Protections Under the Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment, arguably one of the most well-known amendments to the U.S. Constitution, protects us from unreasonable search and seizure. Essentially, this means that law enforcement must have a good reason (i.e. probable cause) to search your person or your property and seize any belongings. This protection is especially important in CPS cases, as home “inspections” are a routine part of the child abuse investigation process.
Why the Fourth Amendment Matters in CPS Cases
New Jersey’s CPS agency, DCPP (formerly DYFS), conducts initial and ongoing home inspections in many cases. One of the most common fears I hear from parents who’re involved with DCPP is that the caseworkers went through every nook and cranny of their house searching for a reason to take their children away from them. Naturally, parents want to know if caseworkers have a right to search their house with such scrutiny, especially when they don’t have proof of child maltreatment. They also want to know if they can refuse to let a caseworker come in and search them home. If you are wondering the same, here is some information that may help.
What Can New Jersey CPS Caseworkers Do?
Caseworkers have a duty to thoroughly investigate every child abuse report they receive. To do this, they may examine the child for maltreatment, talk to witnesses, and even search through the home. Whether or not a search is too thorough or doesn’t seem relevant to the investigation is a somewhat subjective measure, making it difficult to say whether a parent’s rights were violated without knowing the specific facts of the case.
Yes, parents have a right to refuse to let a CPS caseworker in the home or limit what a caseworker can see. However, if a parent under investigation refuses to let a caseworker in, that caseworker may be able to come back with law enforcement and a warrant to force an entry and search. To obtain a warrant, the police officer must have probable cause. But, in child abuse cases, rest assured the safety of the child is the top priority of law enforcement, CPS, and the courts. So, if the caseworker has reason to believe a child is at imminent risk of harm in the home, he or she could easily obtain a warrant to conduct a search. Parents do not have a right to refuse entry of a law enforcement officer with a warrant. If they do, they could be arrested.
Protect Your Rights and Your Privacy
Never forget your constitutional rights. The Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures. That covers searches of your person and your home or car. Always make CPS caseworkers get a warrant if they want to search your home. This may buy you enough time to speak with an experienced New Jersey CPS defense attorney about your rights. That way, when the caseworkers come back with a warrant, you’ll be ready to defend them.
Fighting to protect your right to privacy is stressful, but the knowledgeable attorneys at the Williams Law Group, LLC have the experience needed to defend your rights and protect your child’s best interests. 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 you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.