Caleigh Shea, 27, will return to court on April 11 to set a trial date on a charge of child abandonment. (Facebook)

A Saint John mother accused of leaving her infant alone outside in freezing temperatures has pleaded not guilty to child abandonment.

Caleigh Shea, 27, entered the plea through her lawyer during a brief provincial court appearance on Tuesday.

The mother of four, who is not in custody, will return to court on April 11, when a trial date will be set.

Defence lawyer Brian Munro told reporters outside the courtroom he's confident Shea will be vindicated.

"I think once everybody hears the circumstances, I'm confident that she's going to be fine and that there's going to be a clearer sort of public perception that there's been a dramatic overreaction in this particular situation," Munro said.

The alleged incident occurred on Jan. 21 on Paddock Street, in the city's uptown.


Caleigh Shea has said she put the infant down outside her front door for a moment while she took two other children inside. (CBC)

Police say a neighbour heard a baby crying at about 6 p.m. and went outside to find the infant unattended in a carrier on the sidewalk.

The girl, who is under the age of one, was clothed and had a blanket around her, but temperatures had plummeted to approximately -16 Celsius, Sgt. Jay Henderson has said.

Shea has publicly stated she had just come home from the grocery store with three children under the age of three when she set the infant down in her car seat outside her front door for a moment while she took the one-year-old and three-year-old inside and unzipped their jackets. When she came back outside, her baby was gone, she has said.

Shea's lawyer declined to comment on the status of the baby or Shea's other three children.

Munro described Shea as a "wonderful young lady, very polite, very articulate."

"People in this day and age tend to you know, throw stones from glass houses," he said. "It's difficult when you don't have a lot of money to raise kids in this day and age."

Anyone convicted of unlawfully abandoning or exposing a child under the age of 10, so that the child is likely to be endangered or permanently injured, faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison.