In much the same way that a criminal can agree to a plea deal to avoid a lengthy trial, someone accused of abuse or neglect in New Jersey can “stipulate” to an allegation to avoid the hassle of a fact finding hearing and trial.
However, unlike a plea deal in a criminal case, this kind of settlement generally offers the accused parent very little in the way of benefits. You might be able to avoid a trial; however, your settling in this fashion will not compel the division to withdraw its complaint. Plus, if you accept certain facts and allegations, the court may tacitly decide that all of the allegations against you are true.
Among other things, you could be compelled to engage in much lengthier and more complex services in order to get back together with your child and heal your family. Finally, since you actually didn’t do anything wrong, you might (rightfully) rankle at the notion that you need to “admit” to having engaged in wrongdoing.
If you did engage in behaviors (or failed to do certain things) that were on the edge, you could consider settling. However, you should only do so under very specific conditions. Your defense attorney should draft the language and include a provision that forces the division to withdraw its complaint with respect to any acts to which you do not stipulate and work out exactly what services the division will provide you.
We’ve just covered (in some detail) how Title 9 cases typically work in New Jersey, as well as what you and your lawyer should consider doing at various stages of the process. We discussed how to maximize opportunities to challenge false abuse and neglect allegations, reunite with your family and prevent the division from enjoying an unfair advantage or engaging in tactics that would put you at a disadvantage.
You obviously don’t have to remember everything that happens in Title 9 cases, point by point. However, hopefully, you now have a global sense for what goes on during the process, as well as insight into the motivation of the court, the division and the division’s mental health professionals. In addition, we discussed common mistakes that parents (and sometimes their defense attorneys!) make that create unnecessary complexity or lead to bad results.
In our next section, we’re going to explore the diverse life, career, and emotional challenges created by false abuse and neglect allegations. After that, we’ll return to practical, “nuts and bolts” issues in our section on Frequently Asked Questions about the defense process.
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.