5 Ways To Get Ahead on Your Domestic Violence Case
Are you a victim of domestic abuse? Read these 5 ways to get ahead on your domestic violence case, then contact our Saratoga attorneys today.
1. Afraid of Seeing the Respondent in Court
- If you’re afraid to see the respondent in court, reach out to a court officer outside the courtroom upon arriving at the courthouse and ask to be escorted to a room away from the respondent.
- They will also escort you into the courtroom when you are called for your appearance and, once your case is concluded, they will escort you from the courtroom.
- Bring a friend or a family member – or even an advocate – to court with you so that you don’t feel alone or scared.
2. Victim of Domestic Violence, But Can’t Afford an Attorney
- If you would like representation for a pending family offense case, but don’t have money for an attorney, request court-appointed legal counsel.
- The judge will ascertains that you qualify and direct you to the correct person who can assist you.
3. Having an Order of Protection Against a Spouse at a Custody Trial
- If both spouses involved in a custody trial have orders of protection against each other, the court will consider whether the two parties have children in common, whether those children have been exposed to domestic violence within the household, and whether they have been victims of that domestic violence.
- Every case is different, so it is important to contact a family law attorney for further information.
4. Subject in a CPS Investigation
If you receive a letter from the Office of Child and Family Services stating that you are the subject of a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation, you have probably been named as the subject in a Child Protective Hotline report. This letter means that CPS is now investigating the situation. My suggestion those who find themselves subject to such an investigation is that they cooperate with the Department of Social Services, communicate with the case worker, and allow the case worker to conduct the investigation. Simply having been named as the subject of an investigation does not necessarily mean that someone has been found to have abused or neglected a child, nor does it necessitate that the person will be indicated for having abused or neglected a child.
If you do not cooperate with the investigation, the Department of Social Services has the authority to take an adverse inference against you, and that can result in more severe consequences. If the allegations are severe, CPS may initiate court proceedings—such as an abuse or neglect proceeding—in order to obtain the information it needs to determine whether or not your child is safe. The role of CPS is to conduct investigations that determine whether a child is safe, and you should allow CPS to do its job. If you are indicated, you will have the option to file an appeal, and you should consult with an attorney.
5. Challenging a CPS Indicated Finding
If you have been indicated in a Child Protective Services investigation, you have the right to appeal. Your first step in that process is to respond to the letter that notified you that you were indicated. To do this, you must write a letter to the Office of Child and Family Services in which you reference the case and ID number. In your letter, you should ask to have your indication reviewed, reversed, and marked as unfounded.
Your letter will trigger an automatic administrative review, and it is possible that your case will be marked as unfounded at that level, especially if some procedural error or other glaring error took place during the course of your investigation. In your initial letter, you can also request a copy of the records of your CPS investigation. Doing so will also be important if your indication is not overturned in response to that initial letter. If your case is not reversed at that first level, you will receive another letter stating that an administrative review has been conducted and that CPS has decided to retain your indication.
Your next option is to go through the Fair Hearing process, which is an administrative review process that offers you the opportunity to appear in front of an administrative law judge. During this appearance, you may present evidence on your own behalf that shows that the indication was not warranted. The Department of Social Services will also participate in this process by presenting their information supporting their belief that the indication was, in fact, warranted. The Department of Social Services will go first in this process and has the burden of proof. It must show that there was a substantial basis for your indication based on the information available at the time. After this, you have an opportunity to fully refute whatever information that the Department of Social Services has presented.
Are you a victim of domestic abuse and have questions about these 5 ways to get ahead on your domestic violence case? Contact our experienced and dedicated Saratoga Domestic Violence Attorney for legal assistance.
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