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June 24, 2009

What is a fitting and just sentence for breastfeeding while intoxicated?

This local story from North Dakota, which has now been picked up by the AP and UPI, seems certain to be fodder for punditry of all sorts.  Of course, I am eager to make it a sentencing story, and here are the details from the local coverage:

A Grand Forks mother who police say was “extremely intoxicated” while breast-feeding her 6-week-old pleaded guilty to child neglect Tuesday.  Officers responded to an unrelated call at a Grand Forks residence in the early morning of Feb. 13 and saw 26-year-old Stacey Anvarinia slurring her speech and breastfeeding, prosecutor Meredith Larson told the judge.

Citing a police report, Larson said officers were concerned about the infant’s welfare, so they called Altru Hospital and were told that breast-feeding while intoxicated was not good for the child. “Ms. Anvarinia was notified of that, and she continued to make attempts to breast-feed,” Larson said.

Anvarinia, who no longer is in custody, is slated to be sentenced on the Class C felony charge Aug. 7.

I am eager to hear suggestions from readers about what kinds of sentence would be fitting and just for this state felony of child neglect based on BWI (breastfeeding while intoxicated).

June 24, 2009 at 03:17 PM | Permalink


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"breast-feeding while intoxicated was not good for the child"

So is eating fast food, but I don't see the GF SWAT team raiding the local McDonald's.

Also, you left out the last line

"Judge Sonja Clapp of state District Court said Anvarinia will not have to register as an offender against children."

Is there a distinction between that and a sex offender?

Posted by: . | Jun 24, 2009 3:33:13 PM

Would the sentence be doubled if you BWI at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI)?

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Jun 24, 2009 4:33:23 PM

Alcohol is medically classified as a poison. What would the penalty be for (intentionally/negligently) poisoning your infant child?

Posted by: KipEsquire | Jun 24, 2009 6:06:45 PM

123 Double D.

Posted by: George | Jun 24, 2009 8:59:29 PM

Shouldn't a crime cause a harm? What harm did the baby suffer? We are tired of lawyer oppression with an infinitude of rules to be broken by everyone on earth, subjecting them to lawyer judgment, punishment and plunder. Punishment of act that caused no verifiable harm is itself harmful and a crime. I propose 10 canings for the cult criminal on the bench. To deter.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 24, 2009 11:13:11 PM

i think it is okay to drink while breastfeeding as long as you don't get drunk or you don't drink too much. However, for me, as much as possible, t would really be better and would make a difference if you don't drink.

Posted by: long island gal | Jun 24, 2009 11:14:10 PM

George: Just saw that.

Laugh of the Day.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 25, 2009 12:34:42 AM

We're No. 1, virtually without peer, in fact, when it comes to making felons of troubled people who desperately need help.

This case is a perfect example of how we re-earn that distinction again and again.

So assuming this woman sobers up and someday somehow regains custody of her child, she'll be saddled with a felony conviction and therefore even less likely to land a job capable of supporting a child.

What sentence is appropriate? Assuming she has no prior convictions, how about a court-ordered detox program leveraged with the prospect of regaining custody?

Posted by: John K | Jun 25, 2009 11:30:28 AM

That's really dumb. Supposing the woman had a .30 BAL (and that, somehow, she's not unconscious or dead). Suppose the milk had the same alcohol content. Suppose the baby drinks 8 oz of alcohol-infused breast milk. That's a total of about .024 oz of alcohol ingested. That's probably about, oh, six drops. We're not talking fetal alcohol syndrome, here.

Posted by: Michael Drake | Jun 25, 2009 12:44:36 PM

So a night-shift ER nurse says it's "not good for the child," so it must be felony child endangerment.

By this standard, mom would have committed a felony by NOT breast-feeding the baby, because not feeding a hungry child is "not good" for the child.

Forget sentencing -- the real issue here is why this woman was allowed to plead guilty.

Posted by: CN | Jun 25, 2009 1:21:17 PM

Justice Holmes put it right: "Three generations of imbeciles is enough!" But, of course I am referring to the prosecutor here.

Posted by: mpb | Jun 25, 2009 4:05:05 PM

Credit where credit is due to the cop for at least asking for a second opinion from someone more qualified than he before acting.

But, honestly, I suspect that having a mother in prison for a felony isn't good for a child either. Shouldn't the cop have called in the Department of Social Services for civil intervention, rather than turned to the criminal justice system?

Posted by: ohwilleke | Jun 25, 2009 8:05:40 PM

If she had had enough coffee that morning, she would have been giving her baby a White Russian.

Posted by: Tom | Jun 26, 2009 6:35:11 AM

Can a baby even get intoxicated from breast milk from a drunken mom?

Posted by: federalist | Jun 26, 2009 11:46:10 AM

This case poses all sorts of questions: breast vrs bottle feeding, the use of plastic in baby bottles with BPA contamination of infants, the vacination of young infants, failure of bottle feeding to provide immunity to infants, etc, etc.

The most pressing question though may be why this woman appears to have NO representation in a felony case. I don't think there is any excuse for a competent attorney to allow a client to plea quilty to this charge. Who was claiming to represent this woman? What were they thinking to allow this felony charge to proceed? Who's the attorney of record? That's the travesty here.

I can't imagine the prosecuting attorney pushing so hard for a Felony conviction that he would not have agreed to a plea which served the states interests, the infants, and the mother's. It appears the only person with any sense here is the judge!

Posted by: retromega | Jun 29, 2009 2:31:35 AM

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