Appeals from the District Court of Williams County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable Joshua B. Rustad (20120362 & 20120386) and the Honorable David W. Nelson (20120365), Judges.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Maring, Justice.
Stegall, 2013 ND 49 This opinion is subject to petition for rehearing. [Go to Documents]
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AFFIRMED. Opinion of the Court by Maring, Justice.
[¶1] The State appeals the trial courts' orders dismissing three separate criminal complaints of endangerment of a child against Alexis Stegall, Chelsea Hettich, and Kimberlie Lamon ("Defendants"). We hold that the trial courts properly dismissed the criminal complaints against the Defendants by concluding the charge of endangerment of a child under N.D.C.C. § 19-03.1-22.2 does not apply to acts committed by the mother against an unborn child. We affirm the trial courts' orders.
[¶2] This case arises out of three separate criminal cases and has been consolidated on appeal. For purposes of clarity and our analysis, we discuss the factual background of each case separately.
[¶3] On December 28, 2011, Stegall gave birth to A.S. The State alleges, following the birth, A.S. tested positive for methamphetamine. On December 29, 2011, the State charged Stegall with endangerment of a child. The trial court established a scheduling order requiring all motions to be filed on or by March 16, 2012. Prior to the deadline, Stegall absconded and her trial counsel withdrew as counsel. The record indicates that Stegall was apprehended on July 9, 2012, and the trial court subsequently appointed her new counsel.
[¶4] On August 16, 2012, prior to trial, Stegall moved to dismiss the complaint under N.D.R.Crim.P. 12(b)(2). Stegall argued the State failed to allege in the complaint or affidavit of probable cause a crime under N.D.C.C. § 19-03.1-22.2. Stegall argued that an individual cannot be charged with endangerment of a child for prenatal ingestion of a controlled substance, as an unborn child is not a child under the statute. The State resisted the motion and argued that, after the child's birth, A.S. continued to be exposed to the controlled substance. The trial court dismissed the State's complaint, concluding "there [were] no allegations that [Stegall] knowingly or intentionally caused, or permitted her child to be exposed to, to ingest or inhale, or to have contact with a controlled substance, chemical substance, or drug paraphernalia following A.S.'s birth."
[¶5] In April 2012, the State charged Hettich with two counts of endangerment of a child, after Hettich gave birth to twins who had ...