Levels of Proof
In proceedings brought in the Family Court by CPS, the level of proof necessary to establish child abuse or child neglect is minimal. The formal rules of evidence which apply in other courts do not apply here. CPS workers can present hearsay evidence from third parties. They can present statements from three year olds or four year olds who have no clue as to what they are talking about. The exercise of power by CPS in abuse and neglect proceedings can be abusive and inappropriate. Allegations by CPS workers the parents failed to use appropriate standards of care concerning their children are extremely general and are difficult to defend against.
In the normal course of their lives, children may be injured. They will fall. They will get knocked down by their friends or while playing. They will be bruised. They will have bumps. Sometimes they will require stitches. Sometimes children will break bones. None of these events specifically is indicative of a parent being abusive or neglectful. These injuries and maladies which children suffer are indications they are living fulfilling lives, playing and participating in sports, social and other recreational activities. Children do not live in foam, rubber worlds where they don’t receive nicks and injuries.
Allegations by CPS are difficult to deal with. Should you be contacted by CPS workers who are investigating allegations of child abuse or child neglect, you should immediately contact an attorney familiar with handing these types of cases. Be very careful what you say to CPS workers. Be advised that without a search warrant CPS workers do not have a right to enter your home. The fourth amendment to the United State Constitution prevents the unreasonable search of parent’s homes. If the CPS worker comes to your door and says they are there to investigate you, you can tell them you wish to seek consult with your attorney before meeting with them or discussing anything with them. They may tell you you do not have a right to an attorney. They are lying to you if they say this. You have an absolute right to be represented by counsel in these proceedings.
Obtain Competent Legal Counsel
Getting involved in CPS proceedings without the appropriate legal representation puts you at great risk of saying something that can be misinterpreted and later used against you in an administrative proceeding involving your children.
Elliot S. Schlissel is an attorney who has written numerous articles about CPS and ACS cases. He represents individuals being investigated or charged with child abuse and child neglect throughout the Metropolitan New York area. Elliot and his associates have been representing family members regarding CPS and ACS matters for more than 35 years.