CPS may be conducting an investigation into a referral before they ever even contact you.
Often, the only way that you will know that you are the focus of a CPS/DFS (Child Protective Services/Department of Family Services) investigation is by an unannounced visit or a phone call from a social worker. You must take whatever measures appropriate to contact a CPS attorney IMMEDIATELY. The very first steps that you take in dealing with social services is CRITICAL.
In California, CPS agencies have special hotlines set up to receive reports of child abuse, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The callers are allowed to remain anonymous. These callers do not need to provide evidence of abuse — an accusation that is deemed credible by a phone worker is usually enough to trigger a response by CPS.
Tips For Navigating A CPS Investigation
1: Take Any And All CPS Accusations Very Seriously.
Even if the social worker’s claims seem completed bizarre or unbelievable, it is in your best interest to understand that the social worker is extremely serious. A CPS investigation is not a court of law and you are not innocent until proven guilty. The social worker assigned to your case may fully presume that you are guilty of all claims. You would be wise to consider your first contact with CPS serious enough to warrant calling a juvenile dependency attorney in Walnut Creek, California.
2: Ask To Be Informed Of What The Exact Accusations And Charges Against You Are.
Many times, social workers will avoid specifying the exact complaint that CPS has received about you or your household, but it is actually required by both state and federal law that they tell you the details of all accusations against you, the very first time they have contact with you. Neglect and abuse are very broad categories and are not specific enough to qualify as the legally-required details of an accusation or charge. You are entitled to know the specifics of what you are accused of.
3: Do Not Speak To Any CPS Agent Without Your Juvenile Dependency Attorney.
In criminal law, it is a well-known fact that you should not speak to anyone about your case, except your defense attorney. When it comes down to it, many of the accusations that CPS can have against you are also potential criminal charges. The police can show up and arrest you for those charges at any time, especially if you begin volunteering incriminating information to a social worker. If your Walnut Creek, CA juvenile dependency attorney is not preset, you should remain silent.
It is normal for an innocent parent with nothing to hide to want to explain everything about their situation to a social worker, in hopes that any reasonable person would understand. However, this is a mistake. Social workers have an incredibly difficult job and can become entrenched in a culture that is biased and cynical against parents. It is also unlikely that you realize how easily the things you say can be taken out of context and twisted to fit a particular narrative. Any questions you answer should be approved first by your juvenile dependency attorney in Walnut Creek, California.
You should think of a CPS investigation exactly as you would a criminal investigation against you. Just as we are always told never to voluntarily speak with the police, if they are accusing us of a crime, you should never speak to a CPS social worker without legal representation. Then, they will not be able to use your own admissions, statements, and explanations against you later in an attempt to remove your children from your care. If you have been notified that CPS is investigating accusations against you in Walnut Creek, CA, please do not hesitate to contact the experienced juvenile dependency attorneys at The Law Offices of Johnson & Johnson for help.
Once a referral begins, it is classified in one of several ways:
- No response (not enough information, or fails to rise to the level of CPS’ interest- Evaluated Out)
- Immediate (emergency, children in danger)
- 3 day response
- 5 day response
- 10 day response
- 30 day response
A CPS social worker generally has up to 30 days to complete an investigative referral, before either escalating it to a case status, or closing it out as unfounded.
If you are contacted by a social worker either asking to come into your home or to meet, it is your RIGHT to have an attorney present to help answer questions and to advise you on your rights. The Law Offices of Johnson & Johnson have over 25 years of experience with CPS cases, and helping parents fight for their rights.
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