Monthly Archives: February 2017

Know More About False Accusations Of Child Abuse

When reading reports of sexual assault in newspapers and on television, it is natural to assume that they are true. However, the reality of the situation can often be different then what is reported especially in child custody and visitation matters.

Case Example

In 2012, there was a report in portwashingtonwi.patch about a twenty-five year old Milwaukee woman who faced charges for her false accusations. The woman had falsely accused a man, who hailed from Port Washington, of sexual assault. Defined as a criminal complaint, she told the police that she had gone to a parking lot to meet the man in order to exchange a child whom both of t
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hem shared custody. She claimed that on that occasion, the man had forced his hands into her pants, and proceeded to touch her genitals. She also claimed that the man did the same act several more times after the park incident.

The police moved forward with the arrest of the man, who retaliated by announcing that nothing of such consequence occurred on the first occasion, which was at the park; and that he and the woman had consensual sex on subsequent occasions. The complainant denied all of the man’s allegations, but there was a video surveillance from the parking lot that showed that the man was indeed telling the truth. When the video was presented to the woman, she confessed that they both had consensual sex.

Statistics

False sexual assault allegations happen to be one of the most scandalous disputes with the highest frequency. A study was conducted in 2010, where all cases of sexual assault were reported to one of the major Northeastern universities. The study was held over a 10-year period and it was analyzed in order to establish the percentage of false allegations. Out of the one hundred and thirty-six cases reported, 5.9% (eight of them) were determined to be false allegations. When these results were compared with the results of former research, it was revealed that the frequency of false allegations had grown and was between 2% and 10%. This might seem like a small number, but if you happen to fall into this category, it can make a really big difference.

What You Should Do if You Are Falsely Accused

It can be devastating if you or anyone around you -family members, friends, co-workers, etc. – have been charged with a crime of sexual assault, which wasn’t committed. Unfortunately, false accusations are much more rampant than we think, especially in child custody and child visitation situations.

So what should you do if you find yourself in this kind of situation? Below are some recommendations:

• First, consider employing the services of a competent and well-experienced DYFS Defense lawyer.

• Realize that false accusations are important and they can affect you in a drastic way if you don’t diffuse them. Never make the assumption that simply because they are false, you don’t need to respond to them.

• Prepare for your defense. There might be need for expert witnesses; special psychological tests might be carried out, and there may be other evidence that needs to be collected.

• Write down your case details and what you believe occurred. Include as many details as you can remember. It doesn’t matter whether you believe they are important or not, make sure to write them down.

• Educate yourself. There are a lot of resources you can get useful information from, including the internet. Educate yourself on your rights, criminal offenses and the legal system.

• Put a list of possible witnesses together.

• Understand your rights. If the police question you, you are not mandated to say anything. You also have the right to competent legal representation according to the U.S. Constitution.

Information About Your Rights With CPS

Child Protective Services (CPS) is required by law to investigate reports of child abuse or neglect. They are part of the New Jersey Department of Family and Protective Services, a state agency.

The Report

It is illegal to not report child abuse if it is suspected. Doctors, lawyers, and therapists are required by law to make a report if they think a child is being abused. Whoever makes the report will remain anonymous by law.

Taking Children

Child Protective Services can legally take your children. If a report is made and CPS determines that a child is in danger, th
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ey have the right to remove them from that situation and any unsafe environment. Unsafe environment includes use of illegal drugs in the house, a home with not enough food or health care, firearms being left in the open in a home, physical violence happening to the child, or sexual contact with the child.

After Removal

Parents will be notified in writing by CPS and they will provide all papers that support removal filed with the court. All papers include a statement about the reasons for the removal by the investigator. 14 days later, a court hearing will be held. The judge decides whether the child should be returned to the home, stay with a family member, or remain in CPS custody at the hearing. The judge can also order various counseling activities for parents or caregivers such as attending parenting classes, completing an anger management courses, going through a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program and other requirements.

Service Plan

To allow the child to be returned home, a service plan is written with CPS recommendations and steps that must be taken. It is not a court order and cannot be enforced, but failure to follow the plan can be used against the family that they are not cooperating. At meetings between CPS and family members, the plan can be changed or renewed.
Rights

· You have the right to talk to your caseworker. Remember that communications between you and the caseworker are not confidential and can be used in court.

· You have the right to a court appointed attorney if CPS files a lawsuit again you.

· You can deny any allegations made by the CPS.

· You have the right to attend all court hearings about your case.

· If you do not know English, you have the right to an interpreter.

· You have a right to bring your child home after the service plan has expired unless:

–the service plan is renewed, or

–there is a court order (signed by a judge) saying that you can’t.

Case Length

18 months from the time of the child’s removal is the longest amount of time the case will stay open. If a lawsuit isn’t started by CPS to terminate parental rights by 18 months, the case automatically closes. It is a good idea to get written confirmation that the case is closed before you take your child back. The person your child has been living with can file for custody and get child support from you after 6 months, so it is important to act quickly.

Should You Know About Child Welfare Litigation Strategies

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It’s easy to feel as if the whole system is against you when you are fighting for your child in court.

The child welfare system is there to protect your child’s safety and well-being, not just to limit your parental rights. But when that system decides you put your child’s safety at risk, it can turn against you. As a vehement defender of parents’ rights in child welfare cases, I can tell you to not give up just yet. Here are some ways you can defend your rights while in litigation.

You have
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a right to counsel during the child welfare litigation process. I highly recommend you at least speak with a New Jersey child welfare attorney about your case. Even a simple consultation can help, but you can ensure your rights will be defended if an attorney helps you with your case. Remember that court appointed attorneys often have severe caseloads and may not be able to give your case the attention it deserves. If you decide to use a court-appointed lawyer it is still a sound decision to obtain a consultation with a specialized DYFS attorney. This attorney can help you understand what you should expect from your court appointed lawyer and what is reasonable to expect from them. They can also help you devise a strategy that you can then discuss with your court appointed lawyer. Many specialized DYFS attorneys offer initial consultations from which you can gather information on how to proceed with your case to the next step.

Second, the court cannot take your child away from you or terminate your parental rights without having good cause. The DCP&P will conduct an investigation to gather evidence to submit to the court. You have a right to provide testimony and evidence, too. Take full advantage of this right! You should have an attorney help you do this, but, whatever you do, don’t pass up this opportunity to provide important information.

Third, cooperate when it is reasonable. Comply with any requests the DCP&P makes during the investigation such as developing a safety plan. Work with your caseworkers to create a visitation plan so you can stay involved in your child’s life. Complete all court-ordered steps such as counseling or a substance abuse evaluation. The DCP&P may also ask you to take advantage of certain services. If you disagree with any of these requests, speak with an attorney.

Knowing and understanding your rights and responsibilities is the best tip I can give you for fighting for your child in court. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the child welfare case process in its entirety. You are dealing with both the DCP&P caseworkers and the court all while trying to remain an involved parent while your child is in foster placement. Speak with an attorney about your case if you have questions about your rights or responsibilities.