Getting a visit from Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) can be very scary and very frustrating. All it takes is an allegation for your life to be turned upside-down by Child Protective Services. Many good people have found themselves in this situation. When CPS comes, you need to contact an attorney at once.
Good people work for Child Protective Services. They have devoted their careers to protecting children. But, oftentimes, those same people are overworked and underpaid. They do not know you the same way as people at your church or in your neighborhood know you. They may assume the worst about you. You need to contact an attorney to protect your rights to your children and to protect your record.
Child Protective Services investigates allegations of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and child neglect. It also investigates allegations of failure to protect children, and issues with child custody and foster care. Once they begin an investigation, CPS can issue a finding to the allegation of “Reason to Believe”, “Ruled Out”, or “Unable to Determine”. Many people hear “Reason to Believe” and think that it does not sound too bad. However, “Reason to Believe” is the most serious finding by Child Protective Services. Negative consequences will follow that finding; these could include having your children placed outside of your home, and the filing of a felony criminal case against you.
The findings of Child Protective Services can be challenged in court and in administrative proceedings. While you should contact an attorney as soon as Child Protective Services becomes involved in your life, hiring an attorney after they have made a finding in your case will still benefit you. An attorney can help guide you through the process from dealing with Child Protective Services until they hand your case off to Family Based Safety Services (FBSS).
It can take months to get your kids back home. FBSS will require you to get a psychosocial assessment from a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) to determine what services you need as a parent, whether it be anger management, parenting skills, or substance abuse counseling. Nearly every time, FBSS will refer you to an LPC to do your evaluation. This LPC likely will conclude that you need many different types of treatment and programs. These treatments and programs can make it take a long time to get your children back. Contact an attorney to help you through this process, and do not allow CPS and FBSS to be the final decider of what treatment and programs you will take to get your children back.
An attorney can also help you in an Administrative Review of Investigative Findings. This is the administrative appeal process we can use to attempt to remove a “Reason to Believe” finding made by Child Protective Services from your record. This is not an actual trial before a court, but is a hearing where having a smart, aggressive attorney can be very beneficial. There are important deadlines and qualifications you must meet to even request a hearing. Contact the attorneys at Nickols & White, PLLC to have an experienced attorney walk you through this trying process.
The most important reason to contact an attorney for help during this process is to protect and limit your criminal liability. Remember, ANYTHING YOU SAY TO CPS CAN BE USED AGASINT YOU IN A SUBSEQUENT CRIMINAL PROSECUTION. This means anything you say to your CPS caseworker, your FBSS caseworker, your LPC who is treating you, or anything said in an Administrative Review of Investigative Findings can be used against you to send in a criminal case. An attorney who has vast experience in dealing with Child Protective Services can help prepare you and structure your interviews in such a way as to make certain you can get your side of the story out there, without opening yourself up to criminal prosecution. These charges can include, but are not limited to the following:
- Injury to a Child – Serious Bodily Injury (1st Degree Felony)
- Injury to a Child – Bodily Injury (3rd Degree Felony)
- Endangering a Child (State Jail Felony)
- Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child (1st Degree Felony)
- Sexual Assault of a Child under 17 (2nd Degree Felony)
- Indecency with a Child (2nd Degree Felony)
- Indecency with a Child – Exposure (3rd Degree Felony)
Every one of these felonies carry the potential of serious prison time. If you are dealing with Child Protective Services and are feeling frustrated, contact the attorneys at Nickols & White, PLLC at (817) 617-7500 for a private consultation.