No criminal charges will be filed agains the mother who safely surrendered her newborn baby to a resident in the Craven Terrace neighborhood on July 17.
District Attorney Scott Thomas issued the following statement regarding the determination by New Bern Police Department and his office that no charges be brought in the case where a newborn infant was safely surrendered in the Craven Terrace Community in New Bern:
On Friday, July 17, 2020, a resident of Craven Terrace called the New Bern Police Department to report an unattended newborn child appeared to have been abandoned on a porch. The baby, apparently born within the prior 24 hours, was taken to CarolinaEast Medical Center for medical evaluation and was found to be in good condition. On July 20, 2020, the mother of the infant was identified by detectives, and her name was not, and will not be, released due to her age. The New Bern Police Department then contacted the Office of the District Attorney to determine whether any criminal charges should be brought against the mother.
North Carolina’s “safe surrender” law states that an infant up to seven days old may be left with a responsible adult, legally and anonymously, and the parent who leaves the infant cannot be prosecuted for doing so (N.C. General Statute 14-322.2). This is referred to as the “Infant Homicide Prevention Act.” The law gives the person who may be crisis a legal, safe manner to surrender a newborn. The hope is that the law will save the lives of newborns by providing a safe choice for the parent.
Under this law, the parent can voluntarily deliver the infant to any responsible adult, anonymously and without fear of prosecution. While the law specifically mentions health care providers, law enforcement officers, social service workers, and emergency medical service workers, any adult can receive the infant under the law.
In the case of this infant, dubbed “Baby Jane,” the mother of the one-day-old infant complied with this law. The mother placed the infant, wearing a diaper and wrapped in a T-shirt, in a chair on the porch of the residence of someone she knew well. The infant was in good physical condition. The mother immediately knocked on the door and told the person inside that she had just discovered the infant on the porch. The mother remained with the infant until the person took possession of the infant. At no time was the infant left alone, abandoned, or in danger. Nearby cameras confirm that the infant was not alone at any time and was safely surrendered to a responsible adult.
The resident on whose porch the infant was left immediately called 911. The police and EMS responded, and the infant was transported to the hospital and received a medical examination. The infant had no medical issues. The Craven County Department of Social Services was brought in, and assumed custom of the infant, and DSS remains involved in the care, custody, and control of the infant. During the investigation, the mother was identified and cooperated with the investigation, and she gave a statement detailing what had actually occurred.
Based upon the specific facts of this case, developed by the New Bern Police Department though their investigation, and under applicable law, no criminal charges will be filed agains the mother who safely surrendered the child.