New York Safe Haven Laws

In New York, a person cannot be prosecuted for abandonment of a child if that person leaves a child not more than five days old with an appropriate person; or in an appropriate and safe location and immediately notifies an appropriate person regarding the child’s relinquishment and location of relinquishment.  However, the surrendering person should not have intent to return for the child.

Relinquishment of the child to a safe haven is an affirmative defense to prosecution for abandonment, or endangering the welfare of a child.  The person may raise an affirmative defense that the child was abandoned according to the safe haven laws.[ii]

Efforts to reunify the child with his or her parent are not required when a court has determined that the child was abandoned by the parent with intent to wholly abandon such child.[iii]

The State makes efforts to propagate the procedures and provisions relating to the safe abandonment of a newborn.  The office of Children and Family Services shall develop and implement a public information program to inform the public of the provisions relating to the safe abandonment of newborns.  The program may include educational and informational materials in print, audio, video, electronic, or other media; public service announcements and advertisements; and establishment of toll-free telephone hotlines to provide information. [iv]

All hospitals and clinics shall notify their prenatal care and obstetric patients of the provisions of the laws relating to safe abandonment using materials provided by the office of Children and Family Services.  The department shall also develop agreements with societies and organizations of medical practitioners under which the department or the office of Children and Family Services shall provide materials to such societies to provide appropriate education and outreach regarding the laws to their members and the public.  The commissioner, in consultation with the office of children and family services, shall adopt rules and regulations necessary to implement the safe haven laws.[v]

[ii] NY CLS Penal  § 260.15

[iii] NY CLS Soc Serv § 358-a

[iv] NY CLS Soc Serv § 372-g

[v] NY CLS Pub Health § 2803-r


Inside New York Safe Haven Laws