Main Reasons Child Protective Services Can Be Called
Child abuse and neglect are considered severe offenses in Michigan. The law prescribes harsh penalties for people convicted of crimes against children. Mandatory reporting laws require people, particularly teachers and caregivers, to report potential child abuse cases to the authorities.
Child Protective Services (CPS) is usually involved when such reports are made. It is a government agency working to advance children’s best interests. Their functions include:
- Investigating suspected abuse cases
- Removing children from an unlivable environment
- Developing safety plans to protect them
- Other child and family services
You should contact a criminal defense attorney if you are involved in a CPS case. While there is the possibility that your child could be taken from you, it is merely one outcome of a CPS investigation. You can fight child neglect and abuse charges with the help of an experienced CPS defense attorney.
Reasons Child Protective Services Can Be Called
Thousands of children experience child abuse in the U.S. every year. As such, there are several reports of child abuse annually. Child Protective Services is tasked with investigating child abuse accusations. They have to investigate suspected child abuse brought to their notice, even if they are false allegations.
There are four degrees of child abuse:
Parents can be accused of abusing or neglecting their own children. Caregivers, teachers, and others responsible for the child’s welfare may face the same allegations. CPS involvement typically occurs when the child’s health or welfare is endangered, or the child faces imminent danger or threatened harm. They are also involved in cases of domestic violence or child neglect.
The reason CPS may be involved in a suspected child abuse case can be broadly categorized into three different types of child abuse. First, Child Protective Services may be involved in a case of physical abuse. A person may report potential physical abuse if they notice any physical injury on a child in someone else’s care or if they suspect there is an imminent threat of danger. Thus, social workers may be involved when a report suggests that a person legally responsible for a child injured the child, allowed the child to be injured, or created or allowed an imminent danger of the injury.
CPS involvement could also occur in cases of child sexual abuse. Anyone who suspects sexually abusive or exploitative behavior can report it to the local police department or other law enforcement agency. Examples of sexual abuse include:
- When it is suspected that the person responsible for the child had sexual relations or contact with the child
- When it is suspected that the person legally responsible for the child allowed the occurrence of sexual exploitation or abuse
- When it is suspected that the person responsible allowed the child to engage in prostitution or child sexually abusive activity
- When a child lifts their hands in a defensive manner or flinches from physical contact
Child Protection Services may also occur when people report potential cases of child neglect. Parents or caregivers may be accused of child neglect under the following circumstances:
- It appears that the child is left by themselves for long periods without proper care
- Failure to provide proper care has caused the child to suffer an injury
- It is suspected that the person in charge of the child’s health or welfare has failed or refused to provide a minimum standard of care
- It appears that the child is in an unlivable environment
How Long Does a CPS Investigation Last?
Once CPS receives a viable report of potential abuse or neglect, a CPS worker is assigned to investigate the report. The investigation starts within 24 hours of receiving the report and lasts 30 days. However, the duration may be extended if a solid reason warranting an extension exists.
The investigation often includes physical interviews with the child, the alleged perpetrator of the abuse, and the child’s parents or legal guardian to get a more thorough explanation. The child may also undergo a medical examination with a clinical associate professor for evidence of domestic violence or non-accidental physical injury. Child Protective Services also provides mental health services and psychological tests to check for mental injury.
In addition, the social worker may conduct a physical inspection of the child’s home to assess the child’s safety. They may also review documents and records concerning medical care, education, and overall welfare.
What Should You Do if Michigan CPS is Investigating You for Child Abuse and Neglect?
Hiring a CPS defense attorney is an essential step if CPS is investigating you for child abuse. Even if the allegations are false, you still require legal representation. It is the surest way to defend yourself or prove your innocence. CPS lawyers in Michigan can provide the guidance and expertise needed to deal with a Child Protective Services case.
However, you could also take practical steps to lessen your chance of being viewed as a danger to your child’s well-being. Examples include ensuring there is enough food in the refrigerator, organizing your home, or eliminating any alcohol or drugs from your home.
What Happens if Child Protective Services Takes Your Child Away?
After Child Protective Services conducts an investigation, they determine if the alleged abuse occurred. Where there is adequate evidence supporting the occurrence of neglect or abuse, they also assess the risk of immediate danger to the child. When such risk is high, they can file a petition in court to have the child removed from the house.
In such cases, the child may be placed in the custody of the other parent or a family member. Alternatively, the child may be put in a foster family if there is an immediate threat to the child’s safety. Also, in some other cases, CPS may file for a court order to have parental rights terminated.
The parent, caregiver, legal guardian, or any other person who has abused or neglected the child would be included in the Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry. They may also be punished severely for child neglect and abuse. The penalties include a prison sentence, a hefty fine, or both.
You need to act quickly if CPS has taken your child away. You should contact a defense attorney with sufficient experience in CPS cases to help you get your child back. Blank Law, PC is a reputable law firm working to defend parents and caregivers facing child abuse charges in Michigan. Reach out to us for a Michigan criminal defense attorney free consultation with your CPS case.
Potential Defenses in a CPS Case
Dealing with CPS is usually messy and prolonged. Going up against the state in a child abuse case can be daunting because the state has vast resources and skilled attorneys. However, you should not feel like you are fighting a lost battle. You can succeed with the skill of a seasoned CPS defense lawyer and a solid defense strategy.
A common defense in Child Protective Services cases is when a parent acts in good faith and disciplines their child because they believe it is in the child’s best interests. However, if it is established that the punishment was excessively harsh or cruel, the parent would have no legal defense. Innocence is another defense in an abuse case. If you can prove that the allegations against you are false or unfounded, it could serve as a valid defense in a CPS case.
Attorney Nicole Blank Becker Can Provide Legal Assistance in a Michigan CPS Case
Attorney Nicole Blank Becker is ready to help if you have been charged with child abuse or neglect. Nicole can also provide legal assistance and representation if you risk having your child removed from your home by CPS. Once you establish an attorney-client relationship with Blank Law, PC, Attorney Nicole Blank Becker will guide you to ensure the best outcome in your case.