North Carolina, like all states, imposes criminal penalties for all forms of child abuse. In addition, allegations of child abuse often result in investigations by the county Child Protective Services (CPS) whose recommendations can result in the loss of parental rights.
At its highest level, child abuse charges can be charged as class B2 felonies which, if resulting in a conviction, will mean more than a decade in prison.
Defending Against the Accusation
Because the child is young or sometimes the victim of abusive acts by multiple adults or other children, the child-victim cannot often say whether abuse occurred - as opposed to an accidental injury - or who committed the abuse.
Where the child is unable to describe how the injuries happened, police will often focus their investigation on the last adult to have had custody of the children: a parent, a babysitter, a friend, or a relative.
These cases require careful and relentless advocacy, since the accusatory finger can be pointed at the wrong person.
Misdiagnosis and Criminal Charges
In some cases, no abuse happened at all. For nearly twenty years, child abuse advocates have advanced the theory that certain injuries - subdural hematoma and retinal hemorrhaging - are indicative of shaken baby syndrome or abusive head trauma.
While the science is now in dispute, prosecutors and child abuse doctors, trained in the 1980s and 1990s, continue to believe that shaken baby syndrome is a real phenomenon notwithstanding the fact that the force necessary to cause such damage from shaking would also result in injuries to the neck which are rarely observed.
Choosing the right attorney to defend you requires finding a trial attorney who has defended (and won) these cases before, and who knows the medical literature as well as the medical physicians who will testify against you.
It requires finding an attorney who has his or her own network of experts to review the CAT scans and MRIs, and who can call upon this network to provide consultations in your case.
It requires finding an attorney who has beaten these cases at trial, and who knows that just because a doctor diagnoses a condition, does not make it so.
Before you make any statements to the police, and before you engage any lawyer, make sure you consult with a Board Certified Criminal Defense lawyer.
Save medical records. Avoid any conversations with police without the presence of an attorney.