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