Mandated Reporters - CPS - During a Sex Crime Investigation in Michigan
Mandatory reporting for certain people, organizations, and professionals are required by law under MCL 722.623 to report any suspected child abuse or neglect complaints to Child Protective Services. Once Child Protective Services receives a complaint, they move very swiftly, and the most likely outcome is for an investigation to begin and for the department to dispatch a caseworker on a field investigation.
Medical Professionals Required to Report Complaints to Child Protective Services
Under MCL 722.623 most medical professionals are required to report any suspected abuse or neglect of a child to Child Protective Services. A complaint could occur because of actual injuries sustained to the child that are considered suspicious, or because of something the child said that made the medical professional suspicious. Examples of medical professionals required by law to make reports if they have any suspicions of the occurrence of child abuse or neglect include, doctors, dentists, physician assistants, registered nurses, and medical examiners. Additionally, licensed counselors, social workers, psychologists, family therapists, and even audiologists are all required by law to report suspected child abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services.
Teachers, Law Enforcement, and Friends of the Court are Required to Report Complaints to Child Protective Services
The reporting requirements under MCL 722.623 are very broad and mandate many professionals and organizations to report any suspected instances of child abuse and neglect to Child Protective Services. Examples include teachers, school administrators, and school counselors. Additionally, law enforcement officers, members of the clergy, and regulated child care providers are all required by law to report any suspicions of child abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services. Further, the friend of the court or even employees of an organization or entities that are involved in federal contracts or receive federal funding are legally mandated to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services. Consequently, there are many different mandatory reporters of complaints to Child Protective Services, and if you are under investigation for a sex crime, there will also likely be a subsequent investigation for abuse and neglect by Child Protective Services.
Child Protective Services Intake, Field, Investigation, and Outcomes
Once a complaint is filed, it will be placed in the intake process and may trigger an automatic investigation. Based on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Child Protective Services intake decision making tree, if the complaint involves someone under the age of 18 and the person accused is responsible for the welfare of the child, then an investigation will automatically begin. Two priority levels may be assigned to a case based on the evidence presented in the complaint, and if there is evidence of physical abuse involving welts, bruises, or open wounds, then the case will be assigned a priority level one.
A priority one investigation is legally mandated to commence within 12 hours of receiving the complaint. However, if a priority level two is assigned to a complaint, then the investigation is still legally mandated to begin within 24 hours of the department receiving the complaint. Consequently, Child Protective Services moves very swiftly, and it may be in your best interest to contact an attorney soon. You may refuse entry to a Child Protective Services agent until they obtain a warrant. This may provide you an opportunity to contact an attorney to handle the situation. Our sex crimes lawyers have been defending clients against abuse and neglect charges for nearly 20 years, and consequently, we have the experience, knowledge, and expertise to work quickly to bring about a favorable outcome to your case.
Once a complaint is filed, and a Child Protective Service investigation is initiated, then Child Protective Services will conduct a visit to the person's home as an initial step in the investigation. The purpose of the investigation is to gather information and attempt to uncover evidence of abuse or neglect of a child. The investigation will include a visual inspection of the home and child, as well as an interview with the children, parents, and potentially neighbors and school teachers.
The Standard of Evidence: Preponderance of the Evidence – Proving Abuse and Neglect
The standard utilized by Child Protective Service caseworkers is a preponderance of the evidence. A preponderance of the evidence is a legal standard used by regulatory agencies, law enforcement, and the courts to determine how much proof or evidence is necessary to make a definitive conclusion as to a particular fact in dispute. Unfortunately, the preponderance of the evidence is the lowest legal burden of proof used, and consequently, Child Protective Services requires comparatively little evidence to decide that abuse or neglect has occurred. A preponderance of the evidence is when the fact in dispute is more likely to be true than not true and has also been described as being 51% likely to have occurred. Therefore, if Child Protective Services finds there is a 51% likelihood that child abuse or neglect has occurred, then they may petition the court to have the child removed from the home.
Child abuse is defined by the State Child Protection Law and is divided into four different categories of abuse including, physical abuse, child maltreatment, sexual abuse, and mental abuse. Physical abuse is any nonaccidental injury such as sprains, internal injuries, welts, or bruises. Child maltreatment is when a reasonable person perceives the treatment of the child to involve cruelty or suffering as excessive. Sexual abuse is any intentional sexual contact or sexual penetration of a child.
Mental abuse of a child is defined as a pattern of physical or verbal acts or omissions on the part of the parent or guardian that results in psychological or emotional injury to the child. The definition is broad and includes any significant risk of being emotionally or psychologically injured or impaired by such mental impairments as depression, anxiety, lack of attachment, psychosis, fear of abandonment, or fear for safety. However, mental abuse is the one category of child abuse that a Child Protective Services caseworker cannot make. A mental health practitioner must make a diagnosis for Child Protective Services to make a finding of mental abuse.
Child neglect is defined by the same State Child Protection Law and is divided into five categories. The five categories of child neglect are physical neglect, medical neglect, failure to protect the child, and improper supervision.
Physical neglect includes any negligent treatment such as a failure to provide the child with food, clothing, or shelter necessary to sustain health of the child. However, situations solely resulting from poverty will not be considered child neglect. Medical neglect is when the parent fails to follow through with medical care for the child that results in an observable and material impairment to the growth, development, or functioning of the child. Failure to protect a child occurs when the parent knowingly allows another person to abuse or neglect a child without taking the appropriate measures to stop the abuse or neglect. Improper supervision involves placing a child in a situation where a reasonable person would realize it is beyond the child's maturity level, physical condition, or mental abilities that also result in harm to the child. Finally, abandonment occurs when a parent leaves a child with another person or an agency without obtaining an agreement from that person or organization to assume responsibility for the child.
Grabel & Associates Approach to Sex Crimes and Child Protective Services Investigations
There are not many things that are more difficult than facing charges for a sex crime and having to defend your family at the same time. If you are currently being investigated for sex crimes and being investigated by Child Protective Services for abuse and neglect of a child, then our primary focus is on working with you, the prosecutor and Child Protective Services to prevent formal charges or a petition from ever being filed. However, if you have already been charged with a sex crime or are facing a petition from Child Protective Services to have your child removed from your home, then our attention shifts to preparing to win your case. Our overall objective is to prevent a conviction from going on your record and keeping your children in your home.
Grabel & Associates can help you develop an individualized, aggressive, and comprehensive legal defense strategy, and we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, contact us online or call us at 1-800-883-2138 to help you with a free consultation.