The Defense at CPS Fair Hearings

Westchester County Divorce Lawyer

One of the most stressful experiences a parent or individual can have is to be the subject of a CPS investigation. Many parents and individuals feel that they are treated unfairly by CPS social workers, there statements are twisted, CPS social workers intrude upon their home, and the process is never fully explained.

To make matters worse, telephone calls to CPS are sometimes made by parents who are combative with each other, especially to gain an advantage in a custody or divorce case, or even worse false claims by children against their own parents.

As a Westchester County CPS defense attorney, we help parents and individuals navigate the process and protect their rights. Once someone learns they are subject of a CPS investigating they should immediately contact an attorney for help. It is never advised to speak with CPS, DSS or ACS without first speaking to an attorney.

After a CPS or ACS “indicated” finding the person subject to the finding is entitled to a fair hearing before the Office of Children and Family Services. At the hearing the issues are as follows:

  1. Whether there is a fair preponderance of the evidence that the individual committed the maltreatment alleged in the report

  2. If so, whether such maltreatment is currently relevant and reasonably related to employment by a child care agency, to the adoption of a child or to the provision of foster care.

If you or a loved one is subject to an indicated finding by CPS or ACS call the CPS defense attorneys at Riebling, Proto & Sachs, LLP to protect your rights. We can analyze your case, explain your options and defend you at the fair hearing.

Recent Success at a Fair Hearing in White Plains, NY

In a recent matter the attorneys at Riebling, Proto & Sachs, LLP successfully defended parents who had an indicated finding that resulted in the CPS report’s amendment to unfounded and the subsequent sealing of the entire report.

The Allegations

The parents videotaped a neighbor, who had been harassing the family, masturbating and showed that video to their young children. The investigation yielded that the parents admitted to showing the video to the children and the children told the case worker the parents had showed the video to each of them.

The Defense

The parents denied showing the video to the children. The parents claimed the case worker had lied in his report and that the children had lied to the case worker. Further, the video was blurry and one would not be able to ascertain the masturbation act.

The Decision

The court agreed with the defense and found that the children had a motive to lie to the case worker and the case worker’s report was inaccurate as the parents had repeatedly denied showing the video to the children. Lastly, the court agreed with the defense that even if the video was shown to the children there was insufficient evidence that this action would have placed the children in imminent harm.

The report was amended to unfounded and sealed.

The CPS Process

After a CPS investigation an initial report is generated. A report will be "indicated" if an investigation determines that some credible evidence of alleged abuse or maltreatment exists. This is a very low standard.

If indicated, the indicated party has the right to request that the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) review and amend the report to unfounded. This rarely happens and the case is forwarded to an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing. At the hearing the County Attorney has the burden of proving maltreatment occurred by a fair preponderance of evidence. If the County Attorney fails to meet this burden then the report will be amended to "unfounded" and sealed.

If the County Attorney meets the burden the indicated report will not be amended and its existence is subject to disclosure to licensing and provider agencies making inquiry about the individual.

The Fair Hearing

In order to be successful at a Fair Hearing preparation is key. Recently, the CPS Defense Attorneys at Riebling, Proto & Sachs, LLP successfully defended a step-father against allegations from his teenage step-son of abuse.

The allegations were that the client threatened the child with a gun, threatened his safety and punched the child in the face causing bruising. The child made a complaint to the police and the allegations were investigated by CPS. Although there were no criminal charges the step-father was indicated by CPS.

Upon a hearing, testimony proved that the child had been a member of a gang, had been arrested for drug sale and possession and had a previous PINS petition filed against him. The witnesses testified that the child had been on probation and recently in a fight with an opposing gang member.

At the end of the hearing the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) determined that the child's statements were not credible due to conflicting accounts and uncorroborated evidence. The "indicated" report was amended to "unfounded" and sealed.

How to Win a Fair Hearing

As CPS defense attorneys we regularly represent client in all OCFS cases. The key strategy to the defense is proper investigation and preparation by the defense attorney.

At Riebling, Proto & Sachs, LLP we take the time to properly prepare your case including speaking to witnesses, the county attorney and immediately argue on your behalf at every court appearance.

Free Consultation From Riebling, Proto & Sachs

If you want to fight an indicated finding at a fair hearing call our Westchester County divorce attorney for a free initial consultation (914) 946-4808. Our offices are located in downtown White Plains and we appear at all DSS/OCFS offices in New York City, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess and Orange Counties. We offer aggressive defense for the criminally charged and family law counsel for those navigating divorce.

Accomplishments & Media