Do I Have a Right to an Attorney Before Speaking to Caseworkers?
The Right to Legal Counsel
Understanding your rights is step one to successfully handling a visit from CPS caseworkers. Knowing how to keep a level head and protect your rights can make a huge difference in your case. But you might need legal guidance in doing so. Fortunately, you have a right to an attorney. An attorney can give you legal advice and advise you on how to best exercise your rights.
Silence Can Protect You
For many parents, their first interaction with CPS caseworkers is stressful. Caseworkers tend to ask a lot of questions without leaving room for you to ask your own. As a result, some parents are pressured into providing information that could make the caseworker’s job easier. This is exactly what you don’t want to do.
You have a right to an attorney in court proceedings regarding your child or your parental rights (Title 9 and Title 30 proceedings.) Typically, your right to consult with an attorney comes at your own expense. Parents unable to pay for a private attorney can ask the court to appoint them a public defender. Public defenders aren’t free, but they usually charge a reduced flat-fee.
When to Speak With an Attorney
Just because CPS caseworkers contact you doesn’t mean Title 9 or Title 30 proceedings will commence. Until your case goes to court, the court will not appoint you a public defender. You can, however, consult with a child abuse defense attorney at any point in your case, at a cost to you. Many parents don’t feel the need for an attorney if they aren’t involved in court proceedings. But speaking with an attorney about your rights can mean the difference between your case going to court and you negotiating with CPS on your own (often a preferable outcome.) That being said, it’s a wise investment at any point.
You can choose to speak with an attorney before answering any questions from CPS. But if you refuse to cooperate, the case can head to court much quicker. When you first encounter a caseworker, ask for the details of the allegation, and politely say you’d like to speak with an attorney before you move forward. You cannot be forced to answer questions at this point, but caseworkers could still remove your child. Call a New Jersey child abuse defense attorney right away to learn about your rights and what will happen next in your case.
If you are looking for aggressive legal defense in New Jersey, the Williams Law Group, LLC can help you. Our skilled child abuse and neglect defense attorneys will defend your rights every step of the way. 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 [email protected], or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.