Law Offices of Johnson & Johnson

The Detention Hearing

Dependency HearingsThe social worker for CPS/DFS will write a petition stating allegations of how you neglected or abused your child. Often times, these allegations are overstated, exaggerated, surprising and shocking to the parents. Allegations are statements made by a social worker that he or she believes prove that your children are at risk in your custody and that the state must detain (or take custody) of the children. You have the right to an evidentiary hearing where you can call witnesses and cross examine anyone who has made statements of neglect and abuse by you at the detention stage! Most parents are not informed of this right.

If you have hired a CPS attorney (who actively works in the area of juvenile law) after a petition has been filed, your attorney has the right to request a 24-hour continuance to prepare and gather witnesses, if necessary. At the detention hearing the court can either detain the children, send them home, or social services will (with adequate information) place them with relatives. If the court detains the children, it will likely order conditions to enable the parent to retain custody of the children. If the county meets their burden of a prima facie (on its face) case for detention, then matter will then proceed to what is called a jurisdictional hearing. In some cases, there is no immediate solution and the court will remove the children from the parents’ care and find there are no reasonable means (or that reasonable efforts were made and not effective) available to return the children. This anticipated finding that the social worker wants the court to make CAN be litigated! and evidence can be presented in the very beginning to prevent removal if the case warrants this and your experienced attorney will know it and will push that the children remain home from the very inception of the court case. This stage of the case, in pushing that the children remain home can have very strong effects on the overall outcome of the entire case. Some cases warrant a trial at the very inception of the case.

This is an extremely emotional time that takes hard work and dedication with the family and social services. Timelines for the case are in effect, and written rules and regulations must be followed. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Johnson & Johnson are very familiar with the rules and practices at this stage of the court case and will prove dedicated to resolving the many issues that arise. This stage of the case is where constant contact with the attorney is necessary and imperative.

At the detention hearing you have the right to:

  • cross examine any witness against you, including the CPS/CFS worker;
  • present evidence on your own behalf;
  • subpoena witnesses;
  • present witnesses on your behalf.

A jurisdictional hearing can be set within 10 days. This is where the county must PROVE the allegations in the petition by a preponderance of the evidence. All of your rights above still hold true at this stage of the proceeding. It is also imperative that you have an attorney that is well prepared, has spent time with you and your family, investigated every aspect of the case and has remained in close contact with you.

The Jurisdictional Hearing

At the jurisdictional hearing you have the right to a trial on all of the allegations in the petition. Your juvenile law attorney will fight against the allegations of abuse and neglect – and if your attorney can show that the allegations are false or if the county cannot meet their burden of proof, (which is now by a preponderance of the evidence), the petition will be dismissed. At the hearing, just like the detention hearing you have the right to bring witnesses, present evidence on your behalf, and cross examine anyone who claims you have abused your child, and subpoena witnesses on your own behalf. It is important to find a juvenile law attorney that will take the time to meet with you, explain your case to you, and prepare diligently to present your case in a manner of utmost detail and professionalism. If, however, the allegations are found to be true, or any revised portion “sustained,” the matter will then be set for a disposition hearing that involves a case plan.

During a jurisdictional trial, there is a lot of liltigation efforts happening such as search for witnesses, investigation, obtaining medical records, school records, consulting with experts, developing witness lists, legal briefs, and research on applicable law. Some cases involve all of these efforts, some involve more and some involve less. Depending on your case, a unique plan for trial is developed.

At this point, if jurisdiction is taken upon your children, your children may or may not be placed with you while you engage in services, otherwise known as a case plan. It is imperative that details in representation are worked on before a case plan is assembled for your children to be returned to you. Sometimes, a case plan that is not carefully crafted to address your life and your situation will end up being a plan for eventual failure. By law, case plans must be carefully crafted to address the specific needs of the family. For example, the county cannot order parenting classes in the middle of the day if they know the parents work 9 to 5 during the week.

You deserve more than a standard case plan. This stage is important to the eventual outcome of your case. You will want a juvenile law attorney to advocate for you to have your children in your custody while you engage in a case plan. If your children are not in your custody you are entitled, by right to a visitation plan.

Again, a good advocate may be able to argue for a more liberal visitation plan through the juvenile dependency system. Other avenues are a possibility as opposed to jurisdiction or continued removal of your children such as:

  • Dismissal
  • Informal supervision
  • Voluntary legal guardianship

The Dispositional Hearing

If the matter proceeds to a disposition trial, otherwise known as a contest, all of the same procedural rights are afforded to the parents. The county must show by clear and convincing evidence that the children are at a substantial danger to the child’s physical health, safety, protection, or physical and emotional well-being and there is no reasonable way to protect the child.

The burden upon social services CPS/DFS is much greater at the dispositional stage. It jumps from preponderance of the evidence to clear and convincing evidence. Your juvenile law attorney can strongly advocate for the return of the children or the continued placement of the children in the care of the parents at this dependency stage.

Your attorney should advocate for the return of your children whenever appropriate and at all times when possible.At every stage of the proceeding, placement of the children is an issue. Your attorney can ask for return of the children at every single court hearing because placement is always relevant. Extended visitation is always at issue, and when appropriate, your lawyer will argue for more visitations along with less restrictions.

At every stage (detention hearing, jurisdictional hearing and dispositional hearing) of the proceedings, settlement negotiations will take place. A good lawyer can negotiate less severe restrictions on visitation or other elements of the case plan. There may be advantages to settling the matter instead of moving forward to a trial where witnesses are called. Your experienced juvenile dependency attorney will advise what is best for your case and on these very important decisions.

At this point, if jurisdiction is taken upon your children, your children may or may not be placed with you while you engage in services, otherwise known as a case plan. It is imperative that details in representation are worked on before a case plan is assembled for your children to be returned to you. Sometimes, a case plan that is not carefully crafted to address your life and your situation will end up being a plan for eventual failure. By law, case plans must be carefully crafted to address the specific needs of the family. For example, the county cannot order parenting classes in the middle of the day if they know the parents work 9 to 5 during the week.

You deserve more than a standard case plan. This stage is important to the eventual outcome of your case. You will want a juvenile law attorney to advocate for you to have your children in your custody while you engage in a case plan. If your children are not in your custody you are entitled, by right to a visitation plan.

Again, a good advocate may be able to argue for a more liberal visitation plan through the juvenile dependency system. Other avenues are a possibility as opposed to jurisdiction or continued removal of your children such as:

  • Dismissal
  • Informal supervision
  • Voluntary legal guardianship

Carin Johnson has litigated hundreds of cases over the span of 25 years. She knows the juvenile court system is stacked against parents, and is not afraid of challenging expert witnesses, and aggressively cross-examining the dubious reports of police and social workers. Put her skill and knowledge to work for you!

The Law Offices of Johnson & Johnson

Call For A Free Consultation
(925) 444-0838