Know Your Rights!

If you’ve been accused….KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!

The Supreme Court decision in Miranda guarantees that you have the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present for any and all questioning related to a criminal charge. Even if the police or child protective services threaten you, you do NOT have to speak to them. Exercise your right to silence! Do not let doctors, police or social services personnel threaten, badger or coerce you into saying anything! They are not on your side. Give the complete medical history necessary to best help the doctors assess and treat the baby, but do not answer anything more than necessary until you have contacted an attorney.

Hire an attorney immediately when you discover that a child in your care has been diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome, especially if the child is severely injured (e.g. in intensive care or on a ventilator), or if the child is deemed dead on arrival at the hospital.

If you receive phone calls or personal visits from the media/press, doctors evaluating the baby or police/social services, advise them that you want an attorney present, get the visitor’s name and telephone number and then hang up or close your door. Do NOT offer any information without your attorney present. Exercise your right to silence!

If you receive phone calls or personal visits from family or friends of the alleged victim, DO NOT speak to them. They may be recording your conversation and attempt to use it at a later point. Trust no one but your attorney, and even then, choose an attorney who has defended or worked on an SBS case before, or is willing to ask for help and learn the literature.

Use caution when seeking assistance from Shaken Baby Resource centers as they are often designed to support the alleged victim, not the accused.

Do not give out confidential or case related information to people on hotlines or on the web without the knowledge or consent of your attorney. People who are not working directly with your case do not have a privileged relationship, and could legally be subpoenaed to testify or asked for their records.

Special caution!  Social media sites (Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.) as well as texting, use of forums, groups in social media or social networking sites, listservs, email, etc. are NOT safe places for you to discuss your case, the details about what happened or to get support. Anything you write, share, or document in these places, EVEN IF YOU DELETE OR ERASE IT, even if the sites indicate that messages “expire” can be legally subpoenaed.  Anyone who read your message can be asked to testify, and records can be included in court documents. Even therapists and religious leaders (pastors) are exempt or protected from testifying in some states. The best way to protect yourself is to only speak to your attorney.