CPS Harassment During a Sex Crime Investigation in Michigan
If you or someone you care about is being harassed by Child Protective Services (CPS), then it is imperative to take prompt and aggressive action to protect your rights. Child Protective Services can be intrusive, hostile, and demanding. However, it is essential to remember when dealing with such a caseworker, that you are not in a personal battle with a single person, but instead are engaged in a strategic process to prove your innocence and resolve the issues. Consequently, you do not want to participate in a personal contest against a caseworker, but maintain a tactical vision on the entire process with the end in mind.
Therefore, you never want to jeopardize your credibility, reputation, or dignity by acting terse, disrespectful, or truculent toward a caseworker. Always be polite, respectful, and courteous, no matter how contentious the situation gets. It is not uncommon for a caseworker to intentionally push a parent or guardian to see if they lose their composure. Do not give Child Protective Services any evidence to help their case of abuse and neglect.
However, when Child Protective Services crosses the line, you have rights and options. Stand up, take action and be a proactive part of the solution towards resolving your Child Protective Services case and retaining or returning your children at home where they belong. Discuss the matter with your attorney to take aggressive action.
Prosecuting Child Protective Services Caseworkers
If a caseworker is harassing you, they may have violated regulations relating to the administration and execution of their position within Child Protective Services. There are statutes and regulations, including the Child Protection Law, that caseworkers are mandated to adhere to. A caseworker may insist that they can act with impunity and are immune to prosecution, but that is not true.
If a caseworker is harassing you, then it is possible to file a state administrative hearing alleging violations of state regulations. Your attorney will work with you to ensure your rights are protected and upheld. You can assemble a Declaration of Facts in an affidavit that outlines the specific instances where and when you have been harassed by a Child Protective Services caseworker.
Continuous and Sustained False Reports of Child Abuse or Neglect
Under the Child Protection Law, Child Protective Services is required to investigate all claims related to the abuse and neglect of a child. Consequently, if someone continuously reports that child abuse or neglect is taking place in your home, then Child Protective Services is required by law to investigate each reported instance of abuse or neglect within 24 hours of receiving the complaint. Continuous false allegations is a form of harassment when there is no substance to the allegations or complaints. Many times when there are consistent and ongoing reports of abuse or neglect, you may know the person who keeps reporting your family for an alleged violation of the law.
If you do know who is continuously reporting you and your family to Child Protective Services, then you can file a petition with the Family Court and seek an order of protection for you and your family. If the order for protection is granted, and if the individual files another false report against you and your family, then they can be arrested. Your attorney can counsel, advise, and guide you through all of your available options for seeking relief from harassment from individuals or Child Protective Services.
If you are being harassed by a Child Protective Services caseworker, that is something that must be addressed. However, that will not make an ongoing investigation go away. Therefore, it is still necessary to successfully resolve the Child Protective Services investigation and any petition that has been filed.
The most expedient way to resolve a Child Protective Services investigation is to prevent being assigned to a category one at the close of the investigation. Investigations are required to be initiated within 24 hours and must be completed within 30 days. Assignment of a category five, four, three, or two will avoid a petition being filed for removal and placement of a child outside of the home.
There are two primary investigative tools that Child Protective Services uses before deciding what category to assign to a family. Cases are sorted as either substantiated or unsubstantiated, and an unsubstantiated case is assigned either a category four or five depending on the outcome of the structured decision-making tools that are assessments and questionnaires. A substantiated case is assigned either a category one, two, or three. A case is "substantiated" when after the investigation, the caseworker determines there is a preponderance of the evidence that abuse or neglect of a child exists.
A preponderance of the evidence is a legal standard that exists when there is enough evidence to prove that the fact in dispute is more than likely to be true or is 51% likely to be true. This is considered the burden of proof, and Child Protective Services has the burden to prove that abuse or neglect has occurred by a preponderance of the evidence. If the caseworker determines that the burden is met, then the case is substantiated.
The second primary factor in determining the assignment of a category is structured decision-making tools. Typically, Child Protective Services performs a safety assessment, and risk of future harm to the child which is referred to as a risk assessment. The risk assessment is a primary factor that is used to determine the category assigned. Results of the risk assessment range from low, moderate, high to intensive. Navigate to the Grabel & Associates web page on Indications of Child Abuse and Neglect During A Sex Crimes Investigation to learn more about the type of information that is used to compile the assessment score.
A case where there is no evidence of abuse or neglect will be unsubstantiated and assigned a category five. An unsubstantiated case will be a category four and will also require community based services. A category three is a substantiated case where there is a low or moderate risk of future harm to the child. There will be community-based services, but the alleged offender will not be added to the central registry for abuse or neglect. Category two is a substantiated case with a high or intensive risk of harm to the child, and the alleged offender will be added to the central registry. Category one is a substantiated case where removal of the child is necessary and will be assigned a category one, which will result in a petition for removal and placement of the child being filed with the Family Division of the Circuit Court where the child resides.
Grabel & Associates Approach if a Category One is Assigned and Child Protective Services Files a Petition for Removal and Placement of a Child.
If a petition is filed with the Family Division of the Circuit Court, then the primary objective is ensuring that the petition is not authorized at the preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing, or “show cause” hearing, is a legal proceeding used to determine if there is probable cause that one or more of the allegations of abuse or neglect contained in the petition may be true. If the petition is authorized, then the judge or referee is required to order temporary placement of the child pending a trial. The child may be placed in their home, a relative’s home, or in temporary foster care.
If the petition is authorized, then there is still an opportunity to seek a favorable settlement resolution at the pretrial conference. This could include an agreement that the child stays in the home, but partakes in regular counseling. There are many possibilities for what a settlement resolution could entail. If no settlement resolution is reached, then the objective becomes winning at trial.
This means presenting all of the evidentiary, factual, and legal arguments in the light most favorable to the parent or guardian. However, even if the trial results in a determination that the parents are unfit and the child is under the jurisdiction of the court, the proceedings are not over. There is still the initial dispositional hearing and subsequent dispositional review hearings, and every hearing is an opportunity to demonstrate the fitness of the parent or guardian and that the child should be ordered home.
Contact Grabel & Associates Today for a Free Case Evaluation and Consultation
Grabel & Associates has specialized in defense of clients accused by Child Protective Services of abuse and neglect for nearly two decades and has the talent, knowledge, and expertise to reach a favorable outcome. If you or someone you care about is facing a Child Protective Services investigation, then do not hesitate to contact Grabel & Associates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 1-800-883-2138 for a free case evaluation and consultation.