Our office gets many calls asking for a “CPS attorney”. The simple truth is, there is not such thing as a “CPS attorney”. Often times, once Child Protective Services (CPS) is called, they investigate, and if an allegation is “founded” the result is usually the filing of a Juvenile Court case in the county wherein you reside. However, not all contacts with CPS are negative, not all result in juvenile court actions, and not all result in your children being taken away.
That being said, there are many ways YOU can help the situation if CPS comes knocking at your door.
First, remember that you do NOT have to let them into your house. You do not have to let anyone in your house unless they have a warrant to be in your house. You can politely decline them entering your home, without sounding defensive or like you have something to hide. Remember to politely let them know they are not allowed to enter and DO NOT GIVE YOUR CONSENT for them to enter. If they have a warrant, let them in.
Second, remember these are professional individuals and being polite and showing respect will go a long ways. I have read too many reports where my client became belligerent, rude, and nasty to CPS workers and I can tell you first hand, this WILL NOT help your case. Even if you are angry (you may have the right to be angry) remember to stay calm and be respectful.
Third, exercise your right to remain silent. This isn’t like on the COPS show where you should just stay 100% silent, because that too will not help your case in this situation. However, please remember that everything you say and do could be spun and turned around and possibly used against you later. Don’t volunteer information, ever! Don’t try to dig yourself out of a hole or try to tell the worker what you think they want to hear. Simply answer questions as basic as possible and remember you can remain silent.
Next, be sure you ask for their information. Who are these people and who are they affiliated with? Sometimes you have “CPS workers,” sometimes you have “NFC workers,” sometimes you have “DHHS workers” and sometimes you have police officers. Ask for their identification, ask for their names, ask for their business card, and phone numbers, and write down this information for your records.
Finally, call your attorney. If you have an attorney, call them immediately and let them know what is going on. Your attorney will know how to handle the situation and can even speak to the individuals present to help protect your rights.
Always remember that not all calls to the CPS hotline come back as “founded”. Many times cases come back as “unfounded” and it ends there. Don’t get defensive, don’t try to cover things up, and seek advice from an attorney if this occurs.