New offences introduced to Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)
New offences have been included in the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) as at 29 March 2022 to address criminal behaviour resulting in the loss of an unborn child. The two new offences are:
- Causing the loss of a foetus (s54A); and
- Offence of causing loss of a foetus (death of a pregnant woman) (s54B).
Both offences require the foetus to be at least 20 weeks gestation or, if gestation is unable to be determined, weigh at least 400 grams.
The reforms, in recognising the loss of an unborn child as a result of a criminal act, also improve the support available to parents. The reforms include:
- Family members can make victim impact statements which can be taken into account by the Court when sentencing an offender;
- The name of the unborn child can be included in the indictment (the formal wording of the charges the offender is facing);
- Family members can claim the funeral costs for the loss of the unborn child cause by a car accident.
The Bereavement Payment Scheme has also been established for the mother of the child or the mother’s next of kin (where the mother has died as a result of the criminal act) to apply for a one-off payment of $3,000.00 for each unborn child lost as a result of the criminal offence. This payment has been introduced to assist families in accessing counselling and other support services required during this difficult time.
Application for this made is made through the Department of Communities and Justice. The applicant must be able to show Police have charged an offender with one of the offences listed above and that the foetus was lost as a result of an unlawful act of a third party.
This article was published on 20/09/22 and the information is valid only to the date of publishing. This article should be considered merely general and non-specific on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal, advice. Meehans Solicitors is not responsible in the event this information is relied upon by the reader in the absence of specific legal advice.