Las Vegas Shaken Baby Allegation Lawyer
In Nevada, charges related to Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) are taken extremely seriously. Clients arrested on suspicion of causing a child to suffer SBS can face charges for child abuse, assault, attempted murder, or murder. These are felonies that carry the potential for long prison terms if defendants are proven guilty. Charges relating to SBS can be reduced or dropped if the appropriate defense is established. It is essential that anyone accused of causing SBS retain a skilled Las Vegas criminal lawyer with experience handling the delicate and emotionally-charged nature of SBS allegations.
What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?
Also called abusive head trauma, shaken impact syndrome, inflicted head injury, or whiplash shake syndrome, SBS is a brain injury caused by the forceful shaking of an infant or toddler. SBS is often caused by frustrated parents, guardians, or relatives accidentally or intentionally shaking a child, and it can cause severe and lasting damage to a child.
SBS can involve damaged brain cells preventing a baby from getting enough oxygen to the brain, resulting in brain damage and, in extreme cases, death. Victims of SBS often show signs of brain damage, neck injury, and retinal hemorrhaging, displaying symptoms such as breathing problems, vomiting, pale or bluish skin, seizures, or paralysis.
Crimes Related to Shaken Baby Syndrome
Depending on how severe the damage to the child presents, someone who causes a child to suffer SBS can be charged with child abuse, attempted murder, or murder. Child abuse requires that a person “willfully caused a child who is less than 18 years of age to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering.” The prosecutor does not need to prove the defendant intended to hurt the child but must prove that they intended the act that led to the injury. If the prosecutor can show that the defendant intentionally and forcefully shook the child, which caused harm, then the prosecutor can establish a case for child abuse.
To prove attempted murder, the prosecutor must show that the defendant intended to kill the child but failed to do so. If the child is killed by forceful shaking, then the defendant may face murder charges. Second degree murder is the unintentional killing of another person through extremely reckless conduct. In a case involving SBS, the prosecutor must show that the defendant acted in a manner that a reasonable person would know is so reckless as to create the risk of causing death. Once can argue that a reasonable person would know that forcefully shaking a baby poses a risk of killing the child.
First degree murder is the intentional, premeditated murder of a person, or death caused during the commission of another felony. If the prosecutor can show that the defendant intentionally shook the child to death, then the defendant faces first-degree murder. Alternatively, Nevada prosecutors can charge a person with “felony murder,” which means causing death while committing another felony. In cases involving SBS, the prosecutor may charge the defendant with the felony of child abuse and then use that related felony to trigger first degree murder via the felony murder rule, even if the child’s death was not intentional. Like second degree murder, these cases involve unintentional killing; it is often up to the prosecutor to decide whether to pursue second or first degree murder in such cases.
Defenses to Shaken Baby Allegations
When a child shows signs of SBS, police and prosecutors will blame the caregivers of the child. Typically, defendants will try to show that either someone else in the child’s life caused the injury, or that it was entirely accidental. If the baby fell out of its crib, or the defendant dropped the baby by accident, then the defendant is not guilty of reckless or intentional bad conduct. Alternatively, the defendant may try to establish that someone else caused the injury.
Often, whether a child’s injury or death was caused by SBS will turn on expert medical testimony. Prosecutors will use medical experts to try to show that the injury was caused by intentional shaking, and the defense attorney will use experts to show that the injury was accidental. The D.A. must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was at fault and that the injury was not accidental, or the charges should be dismissed.
Help is Available to Defend against Serious Shaken Baby Allegations in Las Vegas
SBS-related charges are extremely serious and require an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorney to handle the case. If you or anyone you know has been charged with crimes related to SBS, it is important that you contact a qualified attorney who can get you the results you deserve. Contact Lobo Law today at 702-290-8998 to schedule a consultation.