Because the swing of every pendulum brings with it potential adverse consequences, it is important to emphasize that in the area of child abuse, as with the investigation and prosecution of all crimes, the state is constrained by the substantive and procedural guarantees of the Constitution. The fact that the suspected crime may be heinous – whether it involves children or adults – does not provide cause for the state to ignore the rights of the accused or any other parties. Otherwise, serious injustices may result.Syl.Pt.3,WALLIS v. SPENCER, 202 F.3d 1126(9th Cir. 2000)
There’s no definite answer but having been through it I have the knowledge of the system and CPS, and even with all the cases I’ve seen, I don’t know how to tell you, this is what you should do. Every case is different and you should contact an attorney for the best personalized legal advice.
Being falsely accused is one of the worst nightmares a good parent can go through. It destroys lives. It kills…. (I’ve read several suicide reports after such family tragedies); most of all, it takes a child’s innocence and childhood from them. It forever changed my world, and it won’t ever be the same. Sometimes, like in my case, the children never come home. Its devastating. I’m still not over it, nor will I ever be. They destroyed me when I lost my boy…. I was a good mom falsely accused.
I couldn’t have prepared for it, when you’re falsely accused you don’t expect to be accused,and you don’t expect to be doubted by the state.If you’ve never dealt with them before, CPS is supposed to help families and until you see for yourself the flaws, there’s no way to believe how wrongly a good parent can be treated. I have faith in the merits of my case, in the system, and in the truth. I never expected my son wouldn’t come home. I knew I hadn’t abused him. However, my faith in the system was where I went wrong. Don’t take for granted it could happen to you. It can happen to anyone, and its the worst pain/nightmare a parent can imagine…. particularly when the child is injured, killed, or never comes home. No parent can prepare for that. Its a tragedy.
# 1 tip I tell parents is to TAPE RECORD EVERYTHING – EVERY VISIT, EVERY INTERACTION with the child, the CPS social workers, the front desk lady, even.TAPE EVERY meeting, phonecall, etc., tape it all. Its value may not be realised until late in your case or even after your case is complete when you recall something that was said, or when something conflicts with something else, etc. Keep those tapes securely in a safe place, and make copies.
Other best advice I have – don’t take anything for granted, and kiss your babies twice every night that you put them to bed. Once for you, and once for all the parents who can’t kiss their kids goodnight.
How to prepare if you are falsely reported for abuse or neglect
- by Dan Weaver October 4, 2004. I will remember that day for the rest of my life. For me, September 11, 2001 fades in comparison bec… read more
- by Catsy Jones I can remember the day quite clearly. I was sitting on the couch, my husband was packing our things for the move to o… read more
- by Frances Gordon I’ve had allot of experience with child Protection Services. A great deal of experience. The Departments vary a lit… read more
- by Shanna Coon No one expects to be falsely accused of child abuse or neglect; yet bogus cases are reported daily to Child Protectiv… read more
- by Sabrina Schleiger First of all, let me just say that if your child has any birth marks or blotches on his or her skin, be sure to tell … read more
View All Articles on: How to prepare if you are falsely reported for abuse or neglect
How to prepare if you are falsely reported for abuse or neglect
by Dan Weaver
October 4, 2004. I will remember that day for the rest of my life. For me, September 11, 2001 fades in comparison because October 4, 2004 was the day Child Protective Services (CPS) of Montgomery County, New York took my daughter away from me based on anonymous and false allegations. I finally got her back, but she would never have been taken in the first place if I had known more about how CPS and Family Court operated, and if I had known my rights under the law.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that it can’t happen to you. Before it happened to me, I would have never thought it was possible. Although my wife and I were approaching age 50, neither of us had any experience with courts, lawyers or investigators of any kind. We had each received a couple of traffic tickets in our lives, which we dutifully pled guilty to and paid the fines. We had hired a lawyer twice for closings on house purchases. My wife had served on a jury once.
We had been married for 25 years, raised two boys who were model citizens, extremely bright and had never had any trouble with the law. We both worked. My wife graduated from community college with a 4.0 average and was a charge nurse at a local nursing home. I had an M.A. degree in English and ran my own business. We paid our taxes, went to church, helped our neighbors, voted in every election, put up the flag on holidays-in short we were the kind of people that supposedly were the backbone of America.
The number one piece of advice I can give people who have been falsely reported for abuse or neglect is to hire a good lawyer. (I am not a lawyer, by the way, so please don’t take any advice from this article without consulting a lawyer first.) But don’t just hire any lawyer. Your lawyer must be familiar with family law and social services law. He or she must also be aggressive. Child Protective caseworkers and social service lawyers are very aggressive, and they will run right over a mealy-mouthed lawyer. I know because it happened to the first lawyer we had.
Another mistake we made was cooperating with CPS. It’s just like cooperating with the police. It generally buys you nothing. When CPS investigators come to your door, you do not have to let them in the house, unless they have a search warrant. All of your constitutional rights are in force, and you need to maintain them.
Get the investigator’s name and business card if possible. Speak as little as possible and as politely as possible. Close the door as soon as you are able and contact your attorney right away.
Before closing the door, ask what the allegations are. CPS will not give you a copy of the report but will generally tell you what the allegations are. Ask the investigator to read the report to you and write it down word for word. If possible, and legal in your state, record the conversation.
The CPS investigator may say she can’t tell you the allegations unless you let her in the house. That’s a lie, and CPS investigators are not beyond lying to get what they want out of you. They will bluff and try to intimidate you. Ignore all such actions. They will do anything to get into your house in order to snoop around and in order to talk to your children. Never let them talk to your children, unless a court forces you to or your lawyer advises you to.
Once CPS leaves and you have contacted your attorney, begin gathering any evidence you can to refute the false charges. These may include medical, dental and psychiatric records. If the allegations involve abuse, ask your lawyer about getting your child an immediate physical examination with accompanying photographs. If the false allegations involve a specific day and time, try to remember what you were doing at that time. If you were with other people, call them and ask them to be witnesses.
It’s enormously important that you know all of your state’s laws regarding Child Protective Services, neglect, abuse, as well as your rights under your state’s constitution and the United States’ constitution. Learning these laws now, before anyone falsely accuses you, will save you a lot of trouble in the future. And don’t assume your lawyer knows the law. Make sure both you and he know the law.
Whatever you do, keep records of everything. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of documenting everything if you have been falsely reported. Get a blank notebook. Record the date and time of every conversation you have with Child Protective Services caseworkers, every visit, every visit or phone call with your lawyer and any visits you make to your child’s doctor or counselor. In short, document everything that might have any bearing on your case.
Just one investigation by CPS, and your life can be altered forever. Mine has been. Yours won’t be if you prepare yourself in advance.