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Neonaticide: Penal and Criminological Research

Author: Lilia Gîrla
Degree:doctor of law
Speciality: 12.00.08 - Criminal Law (with specification: Criminal Law, Criminology, Criminal Procedure Law, Criminalistics, Judicial Expertise, Executional Law; Theory of The Operative - Investigation Activity)
Scientific adviser: Sergiu Brînză
doctor habilitat, professor, Moldova State University
Scientific council:


The thesis was presented on the 30 September, 2005
Approved by NCAA on the 22 December, 2005


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neonaticide, killing of a newborn during the delivery or after it, infant younger than 24 hours, a born-alive child, viability of the child, state of the mental disturbance, caused by the delivery, disruption of consciousness, participation in child-killing, maternal filicide, causing death to the own child, denial of pregnancy, death of the neonate


The death of children at the hands of their mothers constitutes a complex phenomenon observed since the beginning of recorded history. Neonaticide has received more concerned attention in recent times and is generally acknowledged to be a serious problem. This is a crime that leads to sentencing that is now rarely rehabilitative, or corrective.

This dissertation presents an examination of the neonaticide, not only as a crime which is prohibited by the Criminal Code, but at the same time it is treated as a complex phenomenon from the criminological point of view.

The legal ground of this research is considered to be the actual penal legislation of the Republic of Moldova, judicial practice from the national courts of justice and from Romania. Also there were studied special foreign literature, legislation and judicial precedents of the foreign countries: USA, Great Britain, Canada, and Australia.

The penal research which was undertaken by the author includes a lot of difficult and complex scientific problems; there were suggested own points of view on the following: the beginning of the human life and its legal protection; the object and the victim of neonaticide, peculiarities of the objective side (time of its commission), type of the intention and its influence upon the qualification, problems of complicity in child-killing, delimitation from other crimes, and evaluation of the state of mental disturbance during delivery and postpartum. At the same time there were shown different disputable points of view, which are belonging to other scientific workers, which proved that often the child-killing has been committed in complicity or with deliberation; always it was appreciated by legal authorities as a big problem in judicial practice which induces to the necessity of the elaboration and adoption of the Supreme Court decision on judicial practice about the homicides.

The criminological research includes the psychological nature of the child-killing behavior, there was proposed an effective method for evaluating mothers who kill their neonates by means of classification schemes, so called bio-psiho-sociocultural evaluation of child-killing behavior.

Also there were studied level and dynamics of the neonaticides in the Republic of Moldova for the period of time 1996-2004 and were suggested measures for struggle with neonaticide. The author had undertaken her own criminological research of the 11 cases of the neonaticide, which were examined by the judicial courts for the period from 1996 till 2003. Results obtained shows that the causes of neonaticide are complex, being in mind of the perpetrator. Difficult material and financial problem, absent of the dwelling can make easier the committing of the neonaticide but are not the causes of it.