When a child is thought to be in danger, the case may be brought before Juvenile Dependency Court (JDC). Juvenile Dependency Court is not a criminal court, and is not interested in punishing parents. There are no criminal proceedings, and it is completely independent of criminal drug cases. Since the matter is not criminal, it is very important to understand that the case against a parent need only be proven by clear and convincing evidence. This means that the proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” used in criminal cases does not apply. As a result, the state does not have to prove as much in order to control your child’s custody status as it would need to prove if you are charged with a crime. Giving kids the safest possible environment and providing parents the support they need was the original intent of this system.
If JDC determines that a particular child should become a “dependent of the court,” orders will be made for the parent, the child, and the social worker involved in the case. The protection of the child should always be the goal rather than punitive measures against the parents. Of course, removing a child from a parent’s home certainly will seem punitive to the parent (and quite possibly to the child). I strive to work out arrangements whereby the child is placed back in the home with his or her parent.
The policy of the law is in favor of not removing a child. Or, if the child is removed, the court will strive to reunify the child with his or her family as soon as possible. Naturally, every case is unique, and the course of action must be tailored to that individual case.
Recently, a mislabeling of a routine drug analysis in a California hospital caused a social worker to conclude that the wrong mother was addicted to meth, temporarily taking away her newborn son and her other children. A juvenile dependency attorney lawyer was able to help prove this mother was falsely accused. In certain cases, a mother’s own false positive drug tests can be linked to such things as having taken opiates prescribed to you under a doctors care and supervision, having eaten poppy seeds, or having used marijuana for medicinal purposes.
If your newborn child has tested positive for drugs at birth, retesting may help prove the test was falsely concluded. A positive toxicology screen of a newborn is not necessarily sufficient basis for reporting child abuse or neglect. Any indication of maternal substance abuse will bring on an assessment of the needs of the mother and child, Section 123605 of Health and Safety Code. When additional indicators show a particular risk to the child, a report will be filed. The report is supposed to go to county social services and not to local law enforcement.
As soon as you find out Child Protective Services has been contacted, you will need to contact an attorney. With the custody of your children and their future upbringing at stake, it is imperative to receive the best representation possible. The less you say the better. Sometimes CPS agents can show up at your front door on anonymous tips with almost no evidence. The only thing they can take to court in such cases is what they are told in the interview with you and your child alone. While it is difficult to do, remaining calm and being respectful is your best strategy throughout the process.
During the time you are being investigated, you would need to think through what the coming weeks and months of the investigation entail and try to remain calm and respectful throughout all of the interviews and questioning. This is no easy task for anyone. For that reason, it is highly advisable to have experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel by your side.
If you have been accused of child abuse or endangering a child, take advantage of the experienced counsel of the skilled and proven professionals at the Law Firm of Wesley Schroeder. We are ready to help you and your family pursue the best possible outcome in your case. Call (408) 277-0377 or contact us online to schedule an appointment with our firm and let us get started on your case today. Our team of skilled professionals is ready to provide the highest quality representation for you and your family.