Child abuse is a serious accusation and a serious crime. However, in this day and age, child abuse accusations are sadly made more often than they should be, sometimes as weapons in a nasty divorce or custody case. If you haven’t yet learn how to file for divorce. Whatever the reason, if Child Protective Services (CPS) shows up at your door, there are things you must do, and there are actions you must absolutely avoid.
DO: Take it seriously. CPS is required to investigate all allegations made when abuse is alleged to have been committed by someone who is “responsible for a child’s care, custody or welfare.” They are duty bound to ensure that no abuse is taking place, and if there is, to act accordingly. Laughing off the allegations creates a problematic impression on CPS investigators, as you will be seen to not respect their authority.
DO: Know your rights. It is not uncommon that some CPS workers stretch the truth when informing you of your rights while conducting an interview. You are entitled to a hearing if facing accusations of abuse. You are entitled to an attorney appointed for you (if you cannot afford one) if the Department of Family & Protective Services (DFPS) initiates any action to attempt to remove your children from the home. You are entitled to refuse entry to your home if CPS workers have no warrant or court order. There are many other rights that remain yours, even if you fall under suspicion.
DON’T: Lose your composure. While it is understandable that you might do so at being accused of a heinous crime, it is also understandable that guilty people might vehemently protest their innocence. CPS workers have seen so many of both that it can be difficult in the extreme for them to tell the difference.
DO: Cover your bases. If your child will be asked to submit to a medical exam, ensure that your own doctor performs one as well. The standard used by DFPS investigators is a “preponderance of the evidence” – that is, if they can show by a preponderance of the evidence that abuse occurred, you will likely be found guilty – and as such, the more evidence you can provide, from sources you know are trustworthy, the better off you will likely be.
DON’T: Take any kind of deal or admit guilt if you are not guilty. You may think that taking a plea deal, so to speak, would be to your advantage, as it is to some criminals’ advantage in that it tends to get them a shorter sentence. That is simply not how CPS operates; if you admit to any kind of behavior that could be considered child abuse, you will be treated from then on as a criminal and your children will likely be lost to you.
DO: Consult an experienced criminal defense attorney.
If you are being accused of child abuse, neglect or molestation of a child, the best things you can do for yourself is to engage a competent attorney with experience in dealing with CPS. The Collin County CPS attorneys at Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian are a full service legal defense team and can assist you with all legal matters related to a CPS investigation. Contact us at (972) 369-0577 today to discuss your options with one of our attorneys.