Under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, you have a right to privacy of your person and your property. This right protects you from unreasonable search and seizure. Anyone—even law enforcement—must get a warrant from the court to enter or search your home without your permission. This includes child protective services caseworkers, no matter the allegation against you.
When a caseworker asks to enter your home, you are entirely within your rights to politely refuse. The caseworker must then get a warrant to enter your home. Even if the caseworker comes back with a police officer, you are under no obligation to let them in without a warrant. The one exception is when there are exigent circumstances. Exigent circumstances are emergencies. A good example of an exigent circumstance is if your house was on fire. A law enforcement officer does not need your permission or a warrant to remove your child from a burning home. In all other cases, however, the caseworker will need to ask a judge to issue a warrant.
Caseworkers need probable cause to get a warrant. Probable cause is a reason to believe you abused or neglected your child. The good news is the warrant can work to protect some of your rights. The judge issuing the warrant may limit what the caseworker can do. For example, the judge can permit the caseworker to observe your child in the home and speak with you and your family. Conversely, the judge might prohibit the caseworker from reviewing medical records or examining your child.
If the caseworker comes back with a warrant, make sure you ask to review it before you let him or her him. No need to be rude or forceful. Be confident and polite and carefully read through the warrant before letting the caseworker in. If you can, make a copy of the warrant for your records. And always speak with a New Jersey child abuse defense attorney as soon as you can. Show the attorney the copy of the warrant so the attorney can advise you of your rights. An attorney can also help you cooperate with caseworkers without compromising your case.
Has the CPS contacted you? Williams Law Group, LLC can provide you with tenacious legal counsel to ensure your rights are protected throughout your case. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.