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Concealment of Birth or Death

CONCEALMENT OF BIRTH OR DEATH

The crime of refusing to disclose the birth or death of a newborn child.

The offense is entirely statutory in nature, and state laws differ on its elements. In some jurisdictions the essence of the offense is the deliberate concealment of the birth; in others it is the willful concealment of the death. Intent to conceal the birth or death must be proven in order to obtain a conviction.

The concealment must be accomplished in such a manner as to prevent ascertainment of whether the child was stillborn or was born alive and died as a result of a homicide. There is no requirement that every other person be deprived of the knowledge of the birth or death of the child. The crime is still actionable when another person participates in withholding the information. Failure to provide notice of the birth of an infant who later dies does not constitute a concealment, however.

Evidence of stillbirth has been held to entitle an accused to an acquittal under some statutes. Under others it is essential to prove the live birth of the child. And in some states the offense can be committed regardless of whether there was stillbirth or live birth. illegitimacy is a necessary element of the offense in a majority of jurisdictions, based on the supposition that concealment is generally perpetrated only by those individuals wishing to conceal or destroy proof of the birth.

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