On the Understandable Urge to Want to “Cooperate” with DCP&P
Most of us have a strong, innate sense of what’s just. We want to believe that the agencies and institutions that regulate family life in New Jersey, for all intents and purposes, share these fundamental notions.
As someone who stands falsely accused of abuse or neglect — or who faces grossly exaggerated charges along those lines — you want to believe that you can trust the process to clear your name, reunite with your children (if they’ve been taken from you) and patch up damage caused by the allegations. After all, the system has been set up to separate the guilty from the innocent. So it should, in an ideal world, do just that.
Here’s the truth. Most people who work on child abuse and neglect cases genuinely want to do the right thing, both by the children and by their families. Unfortunately, good people can often make big mistakes or fail to ensure just outcomes. Fatigue, stereotyping, groupthink and other psychological factors can compromise results.
The mindset of “I will just cooperate and do what I’m told, and life will be okay” can be a dangerous one that can lead to injustice:
- Per DCP&P’s request, the court may provide you with cumbersome services requirements. But DCP&P shouldn’t be allowed to impose this obligation on you without going through a more formal, rigorous process.
- You could give in or give up unnecessarily. To win its case, DCP&P needs to have a “preponderance of the evidence” on its side (over 50% of the evidence). This is a lower bar than what’s used in criminal cases, in which the prosecution needs to prove the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” But a “preponderance of the evidence” is still a high standard.
- When the agency dictates the flow of events, your case can be compromised in unanticipated ways. Let’s say, for instance, that you agree to participate in therapy to placate the agency. The State of New Jersey does not have to provide this service; you can seek a private therapist through your own insurance, thus saving money and also ensuring that you’ll be more comfortable trusting the therapist as a neutral party.
- In addition, you might feel pressure to cooperate because you don’t want appear to the court as if you have anything to hide (because you don’t). Here’s where your qualified attorney can stand up for you. Your lawyer can tell the court that, while you’re more than happy to cooperate, he or she must protect you from any negative inferences.
For skillful, experienced assistance battling back against untrue allegations of child abuse or neglect, call the Williams Law Group, LLC immediately at (908) 810-1083.