Know Your Rights
CPS and Your Constitutional Rights
Few things are more frightening than someone trying to take away your child. Parents accused of serious child abuse may face possible severe criminal penalties and termination of his or her parental rights. A termination of these rights means you would no longer legally be your child's parent. Your precious rights would be stripped away permanently. That is why you need attorneys who would aggressively protect your rights every step of the way.
A parent has a constitutional right to the care, custody, and control of his or her own child. This is an important liberty interest. Parents are afforded certain protections. If the state wants to interfere in this relationship, the state need to prove that the parents are unfit as defined by state law. This process must follow a procedure that protects the parent’s due process rights as well. In order for the state to legally end a relationship between a parent and a child, a high level of evidence is needed showing parental unfitness. In addition, the parents need to be notified of all proceedings. The system is based on the idea it is in a child's best interests to be in the care and custody of his or her parents.
Children’s Protective Services (CPS) has a difficult task of balancing protecting children from abuse and preserving a family's privacy. An officer may, without court order, immediately take a child into protective custody to protect health and safety if that child is at substantial risk of harm or if surroundings present an imminent risk of harm. MCL 712A.14a(1). Then the officer would immediately notify DHS.
It is vitally important to remember that state laws and regulations cannot be interpreted in ways that remove the protections of the United State Constitution. This includes when the state is working to protect children in a CPS case. The Fourth Amendment guarantees "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects." So, unless there are emergency circumstances, case workers or state agents must obtain consent before entering the home, have a search warrant, or court order. Law enforcement would assist with the execution in some of these options. In the Sixth Circuit case of Andrews v. Hickman County (2012), the court held Fourth Amendment standards are the same for law enforcement officers and social workers. There is no social worker exception.
However, CPS and criminal cases are still very different. Technically, a CPS investigation is a civil case. So police may want CPS to take the lead in an investigation to gain advantages in the case in the areas of evidence collection. For example, a police officer may question you and not give you Miranda warnings, even though the information may be used against you at a later date in a criminal prosecution. The Miranda warning is designed to protect citizens from unjust and coercive interrogation techniques. This is scary considering that CPS tends to use bullying tactics in its investigations. Therefore, you are a taking serious gamble in talking with a CPS investigator without your lawyer present.
You really need legal representatives that understand how police may try to take advantage of your CPS investigation; and in a criminal case context, lawyers that can defend your Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and 14th Amendment rights when necessary.
Contact Us Today
At Kronzek and Cronkright, PLLC, our attorneys are highly experienced at battling this hostile system and keeping families together. You need a team that is not intimidated and understands exactly how to protect your rights. In a CPS case, there can be an army or people working against you, including CPS investigators, social workers, prosecutors, guardian ad litems, doctors, and more. Having heavyweight lawyers defending you can level the playing field. We support the rights of parents to raise their own children.