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Indiana Safe Haven Laws

In Indiana, safe haven laws permit parents or any other person to leave an infant not older than 45 days with an emergency medical services provider.[i]  Emergency medical service providers may accept custody of an infant without a court order if the infant appears to be not more than 45 days old; and is voluntarily relinquished by its parents intending not to take the infant back.  Such emergency medical service providers accepting custody of the infant shall perform all acts necessary to protect the health and safety of the infant. [ii]  Any person who in good faith leaves an infant with an emergency medical services provider shall not be obligated to reveal any information relating to the identity of the infant’s parents.  Additionally, the person may not be compelled to disclose his/her name.[iii]

Immediately after taking custody of an abandoned infant, the emergency medical services provider shall notify the Department of Child Services. [iv]  Immediately after receiving notification, the Department of Child Services shall assume care, control, and custody of the child.  The child shall be treated as a child taken into custody without a court order except that efforts to locate the child’s parents or reunify the child’s family are not necessary, if the court makes a finding to that effect under IC 31-34-21-5.6(b)(5) (dealing with instances where efforts to reunify or preserve family not required).[v]  Within 48 hours after taking custody of the child the department shall contact the Indiana Clearinghouse for information on missing children and missing endangered adults in order to determine if the child has been reported missing. [vi]

Whenever the department takes custody of a child without a court order, the attorney for the department of child services shall, without unnecessary delay, request the juvenile court to:

a)     authorize the filing of a petition alleging that the child is a child in need of services;

b)     hold an initial hearing under IC 31-34-10 (dealing with Initial Hearing on Child in Need of Services Petition and Issuance of Summons) not later than the next business day after the child is taken into custody; and

c)     appoint a guardian ad litem or a court appointed special advocate for the child.[vii]

Any person having care of a dependent may raise a defense to prosecution for the offense of the neglect of a dependent if the accused person left the child with an emergency medical services provider and the child was not older than 30 days at the time of abandonment.  However, the defense may be raised only if the abandoned child was not subject to any harm or bodily injury; and the prosecution is solely based on the act of leaving the child to an emergency medical services provider. [viii]

[i] Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 31-34-2.5-1

[ii] Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 31-34-2.5-1(b)

[iii] Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 31-34-2.5-1(c)

[iv] Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 31-34-2.5-2(a)

[v] Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 31-34-2.5-2(b)(1)

[vi] Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 31-34-2.5-2(b)(2), § 31-34-2.5-3

[vii] Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 31-34-2.5-4

[viii] Burns Ind. Code Ann. § 35-46-1-4

Inside Indiana Safe Haven Laws