The Administration for Children’s Services (ASC) brought a proceeding in the Family Court in Kings County claiming a child, William, had been neglected by both his mother and his father because they had smoked marijuana while the mother was pregnant. Judge Ann O’Shea sitting in the Family Court in Kings County took the position the finding of neglect entered on consent in one case could not be considered proof of child neglect or child abuse in an another case. She further found it could not be used as evidence in another case to support a finding of neglect concerning a different child at a later point in time.
The Court held that there is a difference between consent findings of child abuse or child neglect and an admission of inappropriate conduct constituting child abuse or child neglect. The Judge compared the consent finding of the child abuse or child neglect to a plea of nolo contende (not contesting a criminal charge) in a criminal prosecution.
Since the only evidence in this case had been the prior consent finding of neglect, the Judge held this finding was inadmissible as evidence in the current case. The court also found ACS had not proved by a preponderance of the evidence the parents had neglect William. The petition by ACS was dismissed.
ACS in the City of New York and Child Protective Services (CPS) in Nassau and Suffolk Counties are very aggressive with regard to bringing proceedings against parents concerning allegations of child abuse. Just because an investigation is started does not mean the parents are guilty of child neglect or child abuse.