Infanticide is the deliberate killing of a child under the age of 12 months by its mother where she is suffering from a mental ‘disturbance’ because she has not fully recovered from the birth of her child, or because of lactation following the child’s birth.
Essentially, this refers to cases where a mother kills their child while suffering from post-natal depression and similar conditions.
This section also applies in cases of child murder. The law says that if the child’s mother is on trial for murder, and the jury finds that she was suffering from a mental disturbance when she killed her child, the jury can instead find her guilty of infanticide.
She will then face the same penalties that she would if she was found guilty of child manslaughter.
Section 22A of the Crimes Act 1900, which deals with infanticide, reads as follows:
(1) Where a woman by any wilful act or omission causes the death of her child, being a child under the age of twelve months, but at the time of the act or omission the balance of her mind was disturbed by reason of her not having fully recovered from the effect of giving birth to the child or by reason of the effect of lactation consequent upon the birth of the child, then, notwithstanding that the circumstances were such that but for this section the offence would have amounted to murder, she shall be guilty of infanticide, and may for such offence be dealt with and punished as if she had been guilty of the offence of manslaughter of such child.
(2) Where upon the trial of a woman for the murder of her child, being a child under the age of twelve months, the jury are of opinion that she by any wilful act or omission caused its death, but that at the time of the act or omission the balance of her mind was disturbed by reason of her not having fully recovered from the effect of giving birth to such child or by reason of the effect of lactation consequent upon the birth of the child, then the jury may, notwithstanding that the circumstances were such that but for the provisions of this section they might have returned a verdict of murder, return in lieu thereof a verdict of infanticide, and the woman may be dealt with and punished as if she had been guilty of the offence of manslaughter of the said child.
(3) Nothing in this section shall affect the power of the jury upon an indictment for the murder of a child to return a verdict of manslaughter or a verdict of not guilty on the ground of insanity, or a verdict of concealment of birth.
Being charged with infanticide can be a highly emotional and upsetting experience, particularly following the death of a child.
If you believe that you have been wrongly accused of infanticide, our experienced criminal defence team can help you understand the charges and how you can go about contesting them in court.
Sydney Criminal Lawyers® practices criminal law exclusively, and we particularly specialise in all types of murder cases.
Our extensive knowledge of murder and infanticide law, combined with our years of experience, means that we are best placed to achieve outstanding results in infanticide and murder cases.
In every case, we try to have the charges dropped at an early stage outside of court by finding problems with the prosecution evidence.
If the prosecution refuses to drop the charges, our exceptional advocates will work hard to protect your innocence in court by raising all defences and examining all witnesses.
If you simply want to plead guilty, our lawyers will fight hard to ensure that you get a lenient sentence by presenting persuasive sentencing submissions and pushing to have the charges reduced.
So get the murder and infanticide experts on your side today – call us on (02) 9261 8881 and book a FREE first appointment to discuss your case with one of our senior lawyers.