Getting to the Bottom of Allegations
DCPP, New Jersey’s CPS agency, investigators ask a wide range of questions to confirm or disconfirm child abuse allegations. You do have a right to decline to answer questions you don’t feel are relevant. Know, however, that doing so could raise some concerns. You don’t want caseworkers to leave your home with more unanswered questions than they originally had. But we do advise you politely ask for time to discuss your rights with an attorney prior to answering questions. Even if you think you have nothing to hide, it is not advisable you trust your caseworkers to come to that conclusion themselves.
Again, I stress the importance of declining questioning politely and respectfully. Caseworkers may note down observations about how you reacted when asked questions. If you respond with anger, fear, or defensiveness, your caseworker may begin to think you have something to hide. Only say you’d like to speak with an attorney before answering questions. The caseworker cannot force you to answer questions.
Do I Have to Answer the Questions CPS Asks?
Refusing to answer questions does not mean the investigation stops there. CPS caseworkers have other methods of collecting information about your case including interviewing your child, other relatives, and people you know. The truth is, caseworkers cannot go into an investigation with just the allegation on their minds. Child abuse reports are often made by people who suspect a child is being harmed or at risk of harm. Typically, reporters do not have the full story. The investigator takes the allegation as a jumping off point but will try to piece together the whole story by asking questions and employing other investigation methods. Sometimes these questions can seem invasive. For example, parents facing allegations of neglect may be asked about their medical histories, their spending habits, and whether they’ve been accused of neglect in the past.
Fighting for Your Privacy
The questions CPS asks are meant to create a more holistic picture of the child’s health, safety, and home life. Again, your caseworker may ask you questions you find irrelevant to the allegation at hand. This is normal but unsettling. He or she may also want to search your home. Do not react defensively. The best thing you can do when facing a DCPP investigation is to contact a New Jersey child abuse defense attorney who can protect your rights. You’ll need an attorney to help you navigate the investigation process without saying or doing the wrong thing, which happens more than you’d think. Parents without legal representation often make the mistake of fully cooperating with investigations only to learn that their words are taken out of context and presented to the judge as evidence they abused their child.
Worried about the questions CPS asks? The knowledgeable attorneys at the Williams Law Group, LLC have the experience needed to defend your rights. 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.