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Introduced Version House Bill 2311 History

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H. B. 2311

 

         (By Delegate Hatfield)

         [Introduced January 11, 2012

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; referred to the

         Committee on the Judiciary.]

 

 

 

 

A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §61-2-31, relating to creating the criminal offense of injury to a pregnant woman that results in miscarriage or stillbirth; specifying penalties for such offense; providing for escalating levels of punishment that are proportionate to the degree of violence involved and for when the offense involves criminal acts of domestic violence; defining terms; providing an exception; and providing that certain additional prosecutions and convictions are not barred.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §61-2-31, to read as follows:

ARTICLE 2. CRIMES AGAINST THE PERSON.

§61-2-31. Injury to pregnant woman.

    (a) The Legislature finds and declares that:

    (1) Intentional criminal acts that cause a miscarriage or interrupt normal fetal development are tragic and should be punished accordingly;

    (2) The harm that results from an underlying offense against a pregnant woman is greater when it results in injury to or death of her fetus; and

    (3) Violent crimes against pregnant women are especially heinous and deserve appropriately severe penalties.

    Accordingly, the Legislature declares that penalties for certain crimes of violence against a pregnant woman that result in miscarriage or interruption of the normal development of her fetus should reflect the gravity of the offense, as set forth in the above stated legislative findings.

    (b) Unless the context clearly requires a different meaning, the following terms have the meanings indicated:

    (1) “Miscarriage” means the interruption of the normal development of a fetus, other than by a live birth and which is not an induced abortion, that results in the complete expulsion or extraction of the fetus from a pregnant woman; and

    (2) “Stillbirth” means the death of a fetus prior to the complete expulsion or extraction of the fetus from a pregnant woman, irrespective of the duration of the pregnancy, and which is not an induced abortion.

    (c) Except for the offense set forth in subsection (d) of this section, any person who, in the commission of a felony, causes injury to a woman, knowing the woman to be pregnant, which injury results in a miscarriage or stillbirth by the woman, is guilty of a second felony in addition to the underlying offense and, upon conviction thereof, shall be confined in a state correctional facility for a definite term that is not less than three years nor more than fifteen years.

    (d) Notwithstanding the provision of subsection (c) of this section, any person who, in the commission of a misdemeanor that constitutes an act of domestic violence as defined in section twenty-eight of this article, causes injury to a woman, knowing the woman to be pregnant, which injury results in a miscarriage or stillbirth by the woman, is guilty of a felony offense in addition to the underlying misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be confined in a state correctional facility for a definite term of not less than one year nor more than five years. If the underlying offense of domestic violence constitutes a felony, the defendant is guilty of a second felony offense in addition to the underlying felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be confined in a state correctional facility for a definite term of not less than five years nor more than fifteen years.

    (e) This section does not apply to acts committed by a pregnant woman which result in a miscarriage or stillbirth by the woman.

    (f) A prosecution for or conviction under this section does` not bar additional prosecutions, convictions or penalties for any other offense committed by the defendant that arises from the same incident that may be prosecuted under this section.



    NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to create a new criminal offense based on acts of violence against a pregnant woman that result in a miscarriage or stillbirth of her fetus.


    This section is new; therefore, it has been completely underscored.


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