A Monroe County woman will be the first in Tennessee to plead guilty to charges of giving birth to a baby who tested positive for meth.
Back in July - Mallory Loyola was the first mother charged under a new law that punishes mothers who use drugs while pregnant.
Tuesday, she entered a guilty plea to avoid jail time. Loyola's attorney says it's the best resolution. She'll avoid jail time, and instead get the help she needs.
In court, Mallory Loyola was hopeful for a deal that would spare her from being the first mother in Tennessee to be prosecuted for using drugs while pregnant.
Loyola gave birth to a baby girl on July 6th. She later admitted to authorities she had smoked meth three or four days before giving birth. Deputies arrested her and prosecutors charged her with simple assault.
Her attorney, Stephen Hatchett said the guilty plea will give her a chance at getting help rather than sitting behind bars.
"She pled guilty to violation of probation and she will remain on probation," Hatchett explained. "She has to follow all the recommendations of the new beginnings program and her assault charge is reset for 6 months. It will be reviewed at that time to see how the rehabilitation program is going. I give the district attorney general's office all the credit in the world in this case, this is a good resolution in this case, and I applaud them for this decision."
Hatchett believes Tennessee has a drug problem. He said he disagrees with the law and worries the threat of punishment will deter mothers from getting the help they need.
"If we're out trying to throw people in jail, everyone knows women won't seek medical treatment. They'll drop their child off at the hospital and you'll never see them again or they'll seek no neonatal care or prenatal care. If that's the purpose of this law, it worked to as close to perfection as you get in this world and in this courtroom today because she's getting help."
As for Loyola, Hatchett said she's been clean while waiting behind bars, and she is hopeful for a future where she can get visitation rights with her daughter.
"She is extremely remorseful. She didn't make bond, didn't try to make bond. She wanted to stay in jail. Remorse is usually a good indicator of whether a person will do better, she should do a lot better. You won't meet a more remorseful person than Mallory Loyola."
Loyola's case with the Department of Children's Services is being handled by another attorney in Madisonville. He was not available for comment Tuesday. A hearing for her custody case is set for September.
An East Tennessee mother charged with assault after she and her newborn baby tested positive for drugs has pleaded guilty to a probation violation.
Mallory Loyola, 26, of Madisonville was the first to be charged under a new law in Tennessee that allows prosecutors to pursue legal action against women who use drugs while pregnant.
Loyola gave birth to a baby girl on Sunday, July 6. Two days later, officials arrested and charged Loyola with simple assault. Monroe County deputies said Loyola admitted to smoking meth three to four days before giving birth to her child.
In court Tuesday afternoon, Loyola pleaded guilty to a probation violation and will enter a drug treatment facility in Knoxville as soon as a space opens up. The judge deferred the assault charge until February, where how successful she is in rehab could be taken into account.
Her attorney said Loyola is remorseful, and would like to have visitation with her baby girl.