Virginia Safe Haven Laws

In Virginia, any personnel of a hospital or rescue squad receiving a child not more than 14 days old safely delivered by its parents shall be immune from civil liability or criminal prosecution for injury or other damage to the child.  However, the personnel shall be liable for injury or other damage to the child if the injury is as a result of the personnel’s gross negligence or willful misconduct.[i]

A local Department of Social Services has the authority to:[ii]

a)     take custody of abandoned children;

b)     arrange appropriate placements and foster care for abandoned children;

c)     institute proceedings for the termination of parental rights of abandoned children.

If the prosecution of a parent for child abuse or neglect is based solely on the ground of relinquishing a child to a hospital or rescue squad, the accused parent may raise an affirmative defense to prosecution that the parent safely delivered a child not older than 14 days to a hospital that provides 24-hour emergency services or to an attended rescue squad that employs emergency medical technicians in a manner ensuring the safety of the child.[iii]

Similarly, if the prosecution for cruelty or injuries to a child is based solely on the accused parent having left the child at a hospital or rescue squad, it shall be an affirmative defense to such prosecution that the parent safely delivered the child to a hospital that provides 24-hour emergency services or to an attended rescue squad that employs emergency medical technicians, within the first 14 days of the child’s life.[iv]

[i] Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-226.5:2

[ii] Va. Code Ann. § 63.2-910.1

[iii] Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-371.1(B)(2)

[iv] Va. Code Ann. § 40.1-103


Inside Virginia Safe Haven Laws