Accused of Shaken Baby Syndrome?
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.
Three Things You Can Do to Help Your
Attorney Prepare Your Case.
Please note: If you need assistance from us, we only work with attorneys. Please have your attorney contact us.
If you have been charged with “Shaken Baby Syndrome” or “non-accidental head injury to a child” there are several things that you can do to help your attorney prepare your case. The most important thing you must remember is: do not talk to anyone about your case without your attorney’s permission. Do not contact experts, do not talk to people on the web, by phone or by email, without clearing it with your attorney first. The second thing you must remember is that this is a long process; it takes a lot of time to learn the medical literature and secure experts to review your case. The more that you can do to help your attorney prepare your case, the better advantage you will have at trial. What follows are three things you can do to help prepare your case for trial:
Step 1. Collect all of the baby’s medical records since birth. If you are the child’s parent, or the child’s parent is supportive of your innocence, you can sign a “release of medical records” form to obtain all past and present medical records of the child. If you are not the parent, if your parenting rights have been terminated, or if the parents of the child are not supportive of your innocence, your attorney will have to subpoena the medical records from each medical facility the child has visited. Do not trust the prosecution to turn over all of the medical records. They are often cherry picked to bolster their case. The following is a list of records that your attorney will need to obtain before experts can review your case:
- Prenatal records (will be listed under the mother’s name)
- Birth records (under both mother’s and child’s names)
- Well-baby check-ups and all previous doctor visits
- Vaccination records
- Medical records of siblings
- Daycare records
- Paramedic records
- ER records for day of collapse
- CT Scans, Bone Scans, MRI’s, X-Rays, Retinal Camera Photos
- Progress and follow up records—(if the baby lived)
- Autopsy (if the baby died)
- Pathology or neuropathology repots and slides (if applicable)
Step 2. Create a timeline of the child’s medical history. Subdural hematomas cannot be dated accurately. Instead, we tend to think of them in windows of time. An acute subdural is defined as 1-72 hours old, a subacute is 3 – 10 days old, and a chronic is anything outside of 10 days. An accurate timeline of a child’s falls, hospital visits, vaccinations, symptoms, and any peculiar behaviors, may help your expert time the bleeds or identify their origin.
Here are some questions that may be important to a child’s medical history:
- Was the pregnancy difficult?
- Was the baby a preemie?
- Was childbirth complicated?
- Were there any short falls or impacts to the head at any time since birth?
- If so, when?
- Who was with the child at the time of the fall?
- Did the child see a doctor?
- What did the head circumferences look like? Review the medical records and chart out height, weight and head circumference from birth. The most accurate percentile calculators on the web calculate specifically for gender and number of days old.
- Has the head circumference jumped percentile lines?
- Is head circumference disproportionate to weight and/or height?Has the child shown any of the following signs of increase intracranial pressure since birth (particularly in the last 3 days before his or her hospitalization):
- Vomiting? (projectile?)
- Reduced feedings?
- Inconsolable crying or unusual sounding cries?
- Positional discomfort? (preferring to be seated in a swing or carrier, crying when laided down etc.)
- Was anyone else with the baby, unsupervised, for the last three days?
- Did the parents call or visit the doctor in the last 3 days?
Step 3. Get Informed About the Science. Though it is a good idea to do some medical research on the web, be careful to only utilize peer reviewed journals and academy statements when providing your family or your attorney with research for trial. See our annotated bibliography for a list of the best articles for fighting fact with fiction.
The following is a list of educational and legal resources available for those falsely accused of “Shaken Baby Syndrome” or nonaccidental trauma. These are not websites or persons in any way affiliated with SBSDefense.com website or 2nd Chair Services. As such, we are not intending, by listing them here, to endorse or align ourselves with any of the statements or opinions made by them or their websites. This list is simply intended to aid interested parties in finding information, resources, and alternative explanations to false allegations of abuse.
Pro Bono Attorneys for Help on Appellate Cases
33 E. Main St., Suite 460
Center for Integrity in Forensic Sciences
Madison, WI 53703
For Case Law
Bacterial meningitis is a rare but very serious infection which attacks the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream it can begin to cause serious damage to limbs and body appendages; it can also cause brain injury, severe intracranial bleeding, and can, if left untreated, lead to death. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/meningitis/bloodstream.html
Coagulation or Clotting Disorders
Blood clotting disorders can lead to easy bruising and internal bleeding with minor accidental trauma. It can even lead to the misdiagnosis of child abuse (Scroll down the page for hematologic disorders).
The Global Vaccine Institute http://www.thinktwice.com/global.htm
Support for the Accused
- Forensic Truth Foundation
- The Syndrome