"Do I need an Attorney if I'm am contacted by CPS about my child in Indiana?"
Each year Indiana Child Protective Services receives and investigates thousands of calls about suspected child abuse or neglect from a host of individuals ranging from doctors to teachers to counselors. Their job is to investigate and, if necessary, file a request for a Child in Need of Services case to be prosecuted. Many parents wonder when and if they should have their own attorney. This is the topic of this blog post.
In short, the answer is “yes” there is the right to counsel, and parents should consider retaining counsel for three important reasons.
First, counsel may be able to assist the parents with gathering the correct information (that CPS may not be able to obtain or learns exists) in the right format to avoid a CHINS filing in the first place. An unnecessary CHINS action is an expense to the taxpayer, burden on the court, and causes a number of required hearings and services for the parents interfering with their lives.
Second, in some cases, the basis for the CHINS claims may be abuse or neglect by the parents. For these reasons, statements or admissions in a civil CHINS proceeding may result in a number of admissions to criminal acts and there is the absolute right to not incriminate one’s self under the Fifth Amendment. Such seemingly unimportant admissions or statements may lead to criminal charges and convictions.
Finally, lawyers who practice in the CHINS arena are skilled in the multitude of tools that may minimize the impact of a CHINS case if it is started. For instance, if your child is going to be removed from your home relative placement is preferred, but this may result in logistical challenges, such as the caregiver providing transportation for this child and/or parents for access to court-ordered services. Lawyers can spend the time and often work out a plan from closely working with the parents that may not otherwise be possible, minimizing the impact of the CHINS case.
These are just three of the key reasons to consider retaining counsel if a CPS investigation has begun. This blog post is written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle CHINS and delinquency cases across the State of Indiana. This is not a solicitation for legal advice or request for services. It is general educational material and best thought of as advertising material.