Would a person go to jail for this?

I’m writing a book, and in the book, this happens:

A woman places her 6-month-old son in a high-chair and places pureed fruit on the table that she plans to feed him. She then carries a glass pitcher of milk to the table, and just as she’s about to set the milk down, she accidentally drops the glass pitcher, and it shatters all over the table. Unbeknownst to her, a shard of glass lands in the puree. She cleans the mess up and then starts feeding the puree to the baby. Her 3rd spoonful of puree contains glass shard, but she doesn’t realize it until her son has swallowed it. She tries to get him help, but he dies.

Now, in my book, she does not get arrested, because what she did is deemed a careless mistake. I want to know if this is realistic and if a parent would be let off for this for such a mistake in real life. Thanks in advance!

In a totally just world where police detectives were omniscient, suspects never lied, and justice was always served, I suspect not. I don’t know, but I imagine that in the real world, she would be considered a suspect and might spend some time in jail awaiting trial or at least until bail could get posted. Cable TV commentators, if they got ahold of the story, might dub her the “glass-feeding baby-killer mom” or something along those lines. At the very least, if she had other children, Child Protective Services might move in to take them away until things were sorted out.

In any case, the police are not likely to just take her statement and offer their condolences. There will be some follow-up. I guess it will depend on the kind of story you want to tell: A world where justice works right or where it further torments a grieving mother. It’s your story.

Over here at least, it could go either way. If the mother was a nice middle-class English woman, with a nice middle-class husband, house and car, they would certainly question her, but assuming that the story was plausible and that she called the emergency services straight away, the coroner would probably record death by misadventure.

If, on the other hand, she was a single mother, who spoke little English and had several children from several fathers; living on benefits and with a history of petty crime and prostitution to support her drug habit; the story might well go the other way.

In either case, it would be for the coroner to decide if there was a case to answer, and the woman would probably not be held in jail.

Could a 6-monthy-old swallow a glass shard large enough to cause death? Could any sized glass shard cause death, if swallowed, even by an adult?

Yes and yes. A sharp piece of glass could pierce the GI tract and cause extensive bleeding. Not exactly common, but in the realm of possibility.

How would she know to call anyone? The pitcher breaks, a piece of glass gets in the pureed fruit, mom doesn’t notice and feeds it to the baby; what happens next? Maybe the child shows immediate signs of distress, or mom notices another piece of glass in the next spoonful and realizes what’s happened; in either case, mom calls for an ambulance. But what if it goes unnoticed at the time? Maybe the glass doesn’t do its damage until later, and mom doesn’t think it’s serious or realize the cause.

This being a work of fiction, thank God, maybe the way in which the symptoms present, and the cause of death is discovered, play in to whether the mom looks guilty of a crime.

People get let off for leaving their child in a car to die. I’m sure it’s plausible that the mother won’t be arrested.

And other people have their kids taken and their families shattered because a neighbor made a false report of abuse. It could go either way.

Since this requires speculation, let’s move it to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

Possible, but IMHO extremely unlikely. The glass would have to be large enough to cause damage, yet small enough not to be noticed in the tiny spoonfulls the mother (presumably already aware that there might be broken glass around) would be feeding the baby.

In my legal opinion, unless there was some probable cause and evidence that the mom was intentionally feeding broken glass to her baby, this would not be considered a crime at all.

I think it would be very unlikely it would be considered a crime.

Unless, perhaps, the person was asking around if feeding your baby glass, with plausible deniability, would land them in jail.

In what world do people have a glass pitcher of milk?

She doesn’t know what’s wrong with the baby. The baby ends up in the hospital, X-Rays reveal the broken glass, initially it’s assume the baby food was somehow contaminated, the mother reveals the broken pitcher story, the authorities are contacted since the hospital workers are mandatory reporters, from then on it depends on how idiotic the authorities are. Some idiot detective may decide this could be murder, she lawyers up, the police conduct an investigation pulling up every detail of this poor woman’s life, some if some other mother has recently been accused or convicted of killing her baby with contaminated food she’s got a long road ahead of her.

Absolutely not fact but in the movie Manchester by the Sea:

A guy puts another log on the fire, doesn’t put the gate in front of the fireplace, goes out to get beer, while he’s gone the house burns down and kills 3 kids. He’s brought in for questioning, tells the cops exactly what happened and is immediately exonerated and the deaths are ruled an accident.

He then immediately tries to kill himself with the cop’s gun but that’s another story.[/spoiler]

Don’t forget to add in the part where the mother sues the manufacturer of the glass pitcher. Once the suit becomes public, other mothers come forward and state they all bought the same glass pitcher and had similar glass shattering incidents.

They all band together and make it a glass action suit and milk if for all its worth.

That was quite a ways to go, Duckster. I enjoyed the trip.


I discovered this after we found some ~5mm shards of plastic in my then-16 month old’s poop. She had a couple of days of diarrhea, but that’s pretty much par for the course with a toddler.

If Casey Anthony got away with murder, who knows, in this crazy world we live in!!

Would glass show up on an X-ray image?