What to Do if CPS is Investigating You During a Sex Crime Investigation in Michigan?
If Child Protective Services (CPS) is investigating you, then you need to protect yourself by hiring a competent and experienced sex crimes defense attorney. Child Protective Services investigations move quickly and are required by the Michigan Child Protection Law to commence within 24 hours of receiving a complaint. Michigan has mandatory reporting laws that require law enforcement, teachers, and medical professionals to report any suspicions of child abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services, so if you are under investigation for a sex crime, even if it does not relate to your children such as possession of child sexually abusive materials, then there is a still a strong probability that Child Protective Services will investigate you for child abuse or neglect.
These resources are a collection of the best advice for what to do if Child Protective Services is investigating you for an alleged complaint of child abuse or neglect. First, a short discussion on the investigation processes before the recommendations, advice, and best practices.
Child Protective Services Investigation
The Child Protective Services investigation process is a precursor to any court action, and therefore, it is an opportunity to prevent court action by the agency and to stop the allegations from gaining any momentum against you. The investigation is required to be initiated within 24 hours of receiving a complaint and will be concluded within 30 days of its initiation. The primary outcome of a Child Protective Services investigation is the assignment of a category between the numbers one and five. Category one is the most severe, and category five requires no action, and the case will be closed.
The category assignment is an amalgamation of many different investigatory factors and assessments, but two primary factors are determinative of a category assignment. First, if the Child Protective Services caseworker determines if there is a preponderance of the evidence of abuse or neglect, then the case will be considered substantiated. A substantiated case will either be assigned a category one, two, or three.
The second determinative factor is the result of the risk assessment that is used to determine the potential future risk of harm to a child. The risk assessment is comprised of two scales. There is an abuse scale, and a neglect scale, and each has more than ten factors that are used to determine the future risk of abuse or neglect to a child. Whichever scaled score is higher in the final determination of the risk assessment is used. Final results range from low, moderate, high, and intensive and must be approved by a caseworker's supervisor. Navigate to Grabel & Associates webpage about Indications of Abuse and Neglect for more information about the factors associated with the abuse and neglect scales.
A category five is an unsubstantiated case where there is no future risk of harm to a child. Category four is also unsubstantiated, but there is a low risk of future harm and Child Protective Services will recommend community-based services.
Category three is a substantiated case where there is a low to moderate risk of future harm to the child. The alleged perpetrator will not be listed on the central registry. The central registry is a statewide database of confirmed instances of abuse or neglect. The one exception for a category three central registry is that if the person accused of abuse or neglect is not a member of the family or household, then they will be listed in the central registry.
Category two is substantiated and indicates the future risk of harm to the child has been determined to be high or intensive. The alleged perpetrator will be placed on the central registry, and there will be recommended community-based services. If the family does not participate in the community-based services, then the caseworker may reclassify the family's file as a category one. A category one is the most severe category. If Child Protective Services determines there is a preponderance of the evidence of abuse or neglect and that the child is not safe, then a petition for removal is needed, and Child Protective Services will file a petition with the Family Division of the Circuit Court of the county in which the child resides.
The primary objective while proceeding through a Child Protective Services investigation is to have the case be determined to be unsubstantiated and to avoid having a category one assigned. The following recommendations, advice, and best practices will help ensure you have the best opportunity to prevent a category one case and avoid a petition being filed against you and your family.
Recommendations, Advice, and Best Practices
1. Find the Right Defense Attorney to Handle Your Case
Selecting the right defense attorney to handle your case is tantamount to succeeding in defending against a Child Protective Services investigation. An attorney should be astute and acutely aware of all of the factors and circumstances pervading your particular situation. Knowledge and experience are crucial for understanding the process and where and when to invest time and effort. Grabel & Associates has been winning Child Protective Services cases for nearly two decades and is available for a free consultation to help improve your situation, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 1-800-883-2138.
2. Do Not Allow a Child Protective Services Caseworker to Come into Your Home Without a Warrant or Court Order
Child Protective Services main objective is to collect and assemble evidence of child abuse or neglect against you. It is of vital importance to be aware that they have no right to enter your home without a warrant or a court order. It is imperative to enforce your rights and ardently defend yourself and your family even if the caseworker becomes truculent and aggressive demanding access to your home and your children. The strategy is to forestall the investigation and interviews until you have the opportunity to work with an experienced and insightful attorney who can counsel you on how to proceed.
3. Take Child Protective Services Accusations Seriously
Under the Child Protection Law, there are "structured decision-making tools" that are mostly questionnaires and assessments that are filled out by the Child Protective Services caseworker. The risk assessment is one of the two primary factors used in determining what category a family's case is placed. One of the elements used in determining the potential future risk of harm to a child is whether it appears that the parent or guardian is taking the incident, visit, or investigation less seriously than the caseworker. Therefore, it is crucial that you present yourself as being concerned and considering the matter seriously. You can state that this is a serious matter, and consequently, it is necessary for you to obtain counsel from an attorney before you proceed any further.
4. You Have the Right to Remain Silent
The right to remain silent corresponds with not allowing a caseworker into your home. You do not need to submit to questioning or interviews without being presented with a court order. If the caseworker does not have a court order or warrant, then you do not need to answer their questions. You should be assertive, courteous, and firm that you are going to seek legal representation before you proceed any further.
5. Maintain a Courteous, Polite, and Respectful Demeanor at All Times With the Child Protective Services Caseworker
Being respectful and courteous is foundational and fundamental to your overall success because it will demonstrate your character under pressure and allow for a successful resolution once your attorney is involved.
6. Do Not Admit to the Allegations or Concede Facts Against Your Interest
Child Protective Services job is to find, gather, and assemble evidence against you to prepare a petition for removal and placement of your child or children; do not make their job easier by admitting to the facts they are seeking to prove. Brevity is a good rule when dealing with Child Protective Services. Keep the exchanges and conversations short and brief while always demonstrating polite courtesy.
7. Obtain a Business Card
Before the Child Protective Services caseworker leaves, make sure to get their business card. You will want to know who is investigating you, and to be able to share the contact information with your attorney.
8. Ask about the Specific Allegations Contained in the Complaint
Learn as much as you can from the caseworker about the specific allegations they are investigating. If the caseworker says that they are investigating abuse or neglect, then you may have to ask for more specifics as to what the complaint is that initiated the investigation. You will want to learn about the specific nature of the allegations so that you and your attorney can more precisely prepare for the questions and allegations that will occur when the caseworker returns.
9. Have a Reputable Physician Examine Your Child or Children
It would help if you had your child or children examined by a reputable doctor who is willing to write a letter stating that there is no medical evidence of abuse or neglect. A medical testimonial letter is a powerful piece of evidence that can demonstrate your innocence.
10. Record Any Interviews Between your Child and Child Protective Services
If after speaking to your attorney the investigation proceeds and the caseworker interviews your child or children, then you should insist on recording the interview. This can be useful in any subsequent hearings on a petition and can show the atmosphere and methods that were utilized in obtaining responses from a child. For example, if a caseworker asked the same or similar questions repeatedly, then it would not be as credible or reliable as if a response was offered the first time a question was posed. Additionally, if the demeanor was hostile or aggressive, then it can demonstrate undue influence in eliciting responses from a child.
Grabel & Associates is the Premier Law Firm Defending Families Against Allegations from Child Protective Services
Grabel & Associates has been defending families against Child Protective Services investigations, allegations, and petitions for more than 19 years, and understands what it takes to win against Child Protective Services. If an investigation has been initiated, then the objective is to resolve the case quickly and avoid a petition from being filed. If a petition has already been filed or your child already removed, then the objective is to prevent the petition from being authorized at the preliminary hearing and to have the case dismissed. If a petition has already been authorized or your children temporarily removed from the home, then the focus shifts to preparing to win at trial and seeing your family reunited and restored.
Grabel & Associates will diligently prepare all evidentiary, factual, and legal defenses available to protect you and your family. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 1-800-883-2138. Contact us today for your free case evaluation and consultation, and to begin the process of developing your individualized, aggressive, and comprehensive legal defense strategy.