As soon as you are contacted by Child Protective Services (CPS), it is important to get a lawyer involved right away. An experienced attorney can help you understand the process, your rights and your options. With the help of the Sonoma County Dependency Legal Group, you may be able to avoid a formal charge, therefore avoiding the loss of your child or a court ordered plan which may significantly interfere with your relationship.
Understanding The CPS Investigation
- CPS receives notification: CPS is notified by a mandatory reporter, such as a teacher or doctor, or by a concerned citizen, such as a neighbor, of alleged child abuse or neglect. In other cases CPS may get involved if there is a highly contested custody dispute between parents and allegations of maltreatment arise.
- Preliminary investigation: A CPS worker will call and/or come to your home to conduct a preliminary investigation. If the worker deems your child to be in imminent danger, the full investigation will begin immediately and your child may be taken from you right away. If there is no apparent emergency, CPS has ten days to begin their full investigation.
- Full investigation: CPS and the police will investigate the claim. This can include home studies, reviewing family history and criminal record, and speaking with you, your children, your neighbors, and your children's teachers, doctors and caregivers. CPS will then determine the allegations to be either unsubstantiated or substantiated.
- If claims are unsubstantiated: If the claims are found to be unsubstantiated, the matter will be closed. Unsubstantiated does not mean the abuse/neglect did not occur, only that there is a lack of credible evidence to prove it. There will still be a CPS record of the allegations, which can be used as future evidence against you if another incident occurs.
- If claims are substantiated: If claims are found to be substantiated, CPS can offer you a voluntary plan without filing a legal petition, or they can file an official petition to declare your child a dependant of the court. You will then need to face the juvenile dependency judicial process.
Petaluma, California, Child Abuse And Neglect Defense Attorney
If you have been notified of a CPS investigation, contact our CPS investigation process Santa Rosa attorney at 707-623-1875. We will help you understand the process and how to protect your parental rights.
Helping Families Stay Together