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Your Rights in a CPS Investigation in Texas

Defend your parental rights with the help of The Law Offices of Ned Barnett.

When Texas Child Protective Services launches an investigation against you for alleged child sexual or physical abuse, you could lose custody of your child. You could also face criminal charges. A Houston child sex abuse lawyer defends your parental and legal rights.

If CPS is investigating you, call The Law Offices of Ned Barnett now for a free consultation. We know this is a stressful time. We are here to help with an upcoming home visit or potential investigation. Call (713) 222-6767.

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What Are Your Rights?

Parents are human and make mistakes. Sometimes these errors are blown out of proportion and result in a CPS investigation. Other times, a disgruntled former spouse or partner makes false accusations to tip the balance in a custody battle.

However unbelievable you may find these claims, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is obligated to ensure your children’s health, safety, and well-being.

Houston child sex abuse attorney Ned Barnett wants you to know that you have many rights to protect yourself and your family during a CPS investigation.

You Have the Right to Legal Representation

A CPS investigation could lead to criminal charges. It is your right to hire a lawyer to defend your legal and parental rights.

How Your Lawyer Can Help

An attorney with a deep understanding of child sex abuse cases can:

  • Review the claim of alleged abuse or neglect
  • Review taped interviews between an investigator and your child
  • Attend legal proceedings involving your child
  • Be present during a CPS home visit
  • Challenge the investigator’s report

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

Invoking your Fifth Amendment right is one of the most important rights you have during a CPS investigation. You might consider the investigator the same way you would a police officer. The investigator can use whatever you say against you, even an innocuous or innocent remark.

What Do I Do If CPS Visits My Home?

CPS home visits are often unannounced. You might not have time to call a child sex abuse lawyer. You may ask the investigator to come back or ask to make an appointment.

If you do allow the visit, The Law Offices of Ned Barnett advises that you:

  • Carefully consider each question
  • Politely decline to answer any question – you do not have to give a reason
  • Do not comment on current or pending criminal or civil charges against you, if applicable
  • If you choose to answer, keep your response brief and limited to the question

You Have the Right to Refuse Entry

As stated earlier, CPS investigators often arrive at your home without an appointment. While an investigator has the right to ask for entry, you have the right to refuse. The Fourth Amendment protects you from illegal search or seizure.

Are There Exceptions to My Fourth Amendment Right?

There are exceptions when you may not invoke your Fourth Amendment rights:

  • The investigator has a search warrant.
  • The investigator believes your child is in immediate danger.

Call a Houston sexual abuse attorney right away if CPS arrives with a warrant or cause to enter your home.

You Have the Right to Challenge the Inspector’s Report.

Although removing your child from your custody is a last resort, the state has the authority to do so. You have the right to challenge this decision, along with the CPS inspector’s report.

You may request an Administrative Review of Investigation Findings. It is in your best interest – and your child’s – to have an attorney represent you at this review.

Other Parental or Guardian Rights

In addition to the rights stated above, you have the right to:

  • Request an interpreter if you don’t fully understand English or are hearing impaired
  • Request a Family Team Meeting with a CPS investigator to proactively address child abuse, neglect, or safety concerns
  • Notify the inspector if your child is of Native American or Native Alaskan heritage because this affects specific legal requirements that could apply
  • Refuse a drug test unless there is a court order

What the CPS Has the Right to Do

You must understand your rights as a parent facing potential custody loss or criminal charges due to alleged child abuse. It is equally important you know what a CPS investigator can legally do.

Interview Your Child Alone

A CPS investigator has the right to interview your child alone so that they may speak freely. The interview must be videotaped or recorded. Discussions should take place at a reasonable time and place, including your child’s school.

Request a Medical, Psychological, or Psychiatric Examination of You or Your Child

These examinations are often a normal part of an investigation. Ask a Texas child sex abuse lawyer for recommendations on how to handle this request best.

Visit Your Home Unannounced

A CPS investigator has the right to arrive at your home without warning and to request entry. Unless the investigator believes your child is in immediate danger or has a warrant, you have the right to refuse access.

Take Your Child Away

Without a doubt, the fact that a CPS investigator may take your child is the most frightening outcome imaginable. Removing your child from your home can be a temporary measure. It is also preventable.

If you believe that you could lose custody due to an abusive partner, drug addiction, or another reason, call The Law Offices of Ned Barnett. We can help you find safer conditions for your child while you focus on relocating or recovering.

Understanding CPS Investigations

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services is responsible for conducting child safety investigations based on reports of alleged child abuse, child sexual assault, or neglect. They must investigate all claims. The agency received more than 213,000 intake reports of suspected child abuse from September 2020 to June 2021.

CPS Investigation Process

Anyone may file a report of suspected child abuse or neglect. Specific individuals are legally required to contact the TDFPS, including doctors and teachers.

CPS divides qualifying cases into three categories: Priority 1, Priority 2, and No Priority.

Priority 1

These cases require investigation within 24 hours and arise out reports of children at immediate risk of severe harm or death.

Priority 2

These cases are usually investigated within 72 hours and include any other case type recommended for investigation.

No Priority

CPS takes no further action on No Priority cases unless it receives additional reports.

When there is evidence of abuse or neglect, investigators must determine whether the parents are willing and able to manage threats and keep their children safe.

Should the agency find that the parents are unable or unwilling, children are moved into temporary care. In about 45 percent of all cases, children removed from home temporarily live with family members or close friends.

Investigation Results

A CPS investigation results in a ruling called a disposition. A disposition has several potential consequences, such as:

Reason to Believe

Based on the preponderance of the evidence, it is likely that abuse or neglect occurred or is ongoing.

Ruled Out

There is insufficient evidence that abuse or neglect occurred based on the available information.

Unable to Complete

Some investigations cannot begin or conclude because the family could not be located, moved, or refused to cooperate.

Unable to Determine

Results are inconclusive based on available information.

Administrative Closure

Intervention is unwarranted because of new information after the case is assigned for investigation.

Criminal Charges

When necessary, the TDFPS may file civil, criminal, or both types of charges to protect the child. These legal actions could result in removing your child or loss of parental rights. Should this extraordinary measure be taken, a Houston child sexual abuse lawyer fights to defend you and keep your family together.

Resources for You and Your Child

Attorney Barnett knows that divorce, addiction, or criminal charges might lead to child sexual abuse or neglect allegations. Our firm has the strength, knowledge, and resources to defend your legal and parental rights vigorously.

You might find the following useful as additional resources:

Under CPS Investigation? Call Now

If you are under CPS investigation, anticipating a home visit, or received notice of a lawsuit to terminate your parental rights, call The Law Offices of Ned Barnett today. A Houston sexual abuse attorney helps you cooperate with CPS in a way that protects and exerts your parental rights.

For a free consultation, call (713) 222-6767.