Child Protective Services - Central Registry in Michigan - Sex Crimes
If a person is investigated, charged, or has been convicted of a sex crime, then there is a high probability that Child Protective Services will also investigate them for abuse and neglect of a child. A Child Protective Services investigation may take place even if the sex crime is unrelated to the child, for example, possession of child sexually abusive materials or child pornography will often initiate a Child Services investigation. Automatic Child Protective Services investigations are often initiated due to the strict legal requirements that agencies, such as the friend of the court program and law enforcement, are held to report any potential abuse and neglect to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
Grabel & Associates has been specializing in the defense of sex crimes and Child Protective Services cases for nearly 20 years, and consequently, we have the experience, knowledge, and expertise to help you avoid an abuse and neglect conviction and keep your children in your home.
The Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry: Michigan Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System
The central registry is a statewide database that maintains names, addresses, and birthdates of people who are involved in the abuse or neglect of a child by a preponderance of the evidence. The central registry database is maintained as part of the Michigan Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (MiSACWIS) that is used by Child Protective Services for case management. The system includes all actions taken in a Child Protective Services investigation and must be updated and completed by the caseworker. Information required to be inputted and maintained by caseworkers includes a risk assessment, safety assessment, allegation findings, petitions for removal, people investigated, and an investigation checklist.
Any case that is substantiated for abuse or neglect and is assigned a category one or category two designation will be included in the central registry. A case is considered substantiated if the department determines a preponderance of the evidence exists as to abuse and neglect. This is very serious, and if a person is placed in category two, then their name can be placed in the central registry without a court hearing. Consequently, the sooner you start working with an attorney, the better chance you have at keeping your name out of this database for people who have abused and neglected children.
When a person is added to the central registry, they will receive a perpetrator notification letter from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. This can harm your opportunities, reputation, and your standing in the community. Grabel & Associates can help you fight sex crime charges and defend you against Child Protective Services allegations. Our goal is to avoid charges if possible, but if you have already been charged with a sex crime or child abuse and neglect then we will seek to win your case. If you have already been placed on the central registry, then we can help you request an administrative hearing to get your name removed from the database.
However, the central registry also serves another function for Child Protective Services. The central registry is the proverbial "stick" that Child Protective Services uses to make families comply with their "recommended" family services. In order to fully appreciate the operation of this function, it is necessary to understand the five categories that Child Protective Services places families in after an investigation.
Central Registry: Five Categories Assigned to Families After a Child Protective Services Investigation
There are five categories that are assigned to families by Child Protective Services caseworkers after an investigation is complete. Two primary factors determine each of the five categories. First, did the caseworker find evidence of abuse and neglect by a preponderance of the evidence. Second, which level of risk was determined using their risk assessment worksheet. Category one is the most serious and typically results in a petition to circuit court for removal of the child from home. Additionally, a category one will also require the department to place the alleged offender in the central registry.
An individual will be assigned a category two designation if the Child Protective Services caseworker finds a preponderance of evidence that abuse or neglect exists and the risk assessment worksheet indicates a high or intensive risk of future harm to the child. With a category two designation there is an automatic requirement to register the alleged offender with the central registry. The critical point to appreciate with a category two is that if the family fails to comply with the recommended services, then the caseworker may reclassify the file to a category one and petition the court to have the child or children removed from the home.
Category three is an example of when Child Protective Services uses the central registry as a "stick" to motivate people to follow their recommendations. For a category three designation, the caseworker must find a preponderance of the evidence that abuse or neglect exists, but the structured risk assessment worksheet will indicate a low or moderate level of future risk to the child. Consequently, the alleged offender will not be placed on the central registry, but if the family fails to participate in the recommended services, then the department will list the alleged perpetrator in the central registry. There is an exception for category three cases if the alleged offender is not a family member of the child, then the person will automatically be placed on the central registry.
Category four is considered an "unsubstantiated case" which means the caseworker did not find abuse and neglect by a preponderance of the evidence. The caseworker will still recommend services, but if the family decides not to participate in the recommended community services, then the department will not list anyone on the central registry. Finally, a category five is also an unsubstantiated case with no evidence of abuse or neglect and no risk of future harm to the child. Consequently, there are no recommended services and no one is placed in the central registry. The case will be closed.
Child Protective Services Case Record Retention Policy
Under Child Protection Law MCL 722.628(11), Child Protection Services maintains records, complaints and case information on all families for ten years. This is the policy for families that have not been placed on the central registry. Therefore, even if an alleged offender or family is not placed in the central registry, a record of the investigation will be maintained for ten years and may be used against the person or family if any subsequent complaints are filed. If a person or family is placed on the central registry, then the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services maintains records until the person listed on the central registry has died.
Expunction and Amendment of Central Registry Entry
Under Child Protection Law MCL 722.621 there is a provision that provides people listed within the central registry an opportunity to request an administrative hearing to have their entry in the central registry amended or removed. The administrative hearing and removal process is called expunction, and Grabel & Associates can help you navigate this complicated legal process.
Grabel & Associates Approach to Sex Crimes and Central Registry
If you are currently under investigation for a sex crime and child abuse and neglect, then our goal is to work with you, the prosecutor, and Child Protective Services to prevent formal charges from ever being filed. If you have already been charged with a sex crime and child abuse and neglect, then our focus shifts to preparing to win your case at trial or a hearing. We will conduct an independent investigation, and uncover any and all pertinent details that will help to win your case. It may be necessary to implement the use of a polygraph lie detector test or to obtain a third-party opinion from a mental health petitioner. These are just examples of the many different legal, factual, and evidentiary tools and arguments that may be implemented based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. If you are ready to take the first step toward crafting your individualized, aggressive, and comprehensive legal defense strategy, then contact Grabel & Associates or call at 1-800-883-2138 for a free consultation today.