Having a Child Protective Services investigator knock on your door and ask to talk to you is one of the worst nightmares any California parent could face. It is a sign that you could be facing an ugly divorce and a potential conviction for child abuse. The state defines child abuse through intentional physical injuries, willful cruelty, sexual exploitation or parental neglect.
With so much at stake, it can be very easy for a parent to slip up and turn the eventual court case against them. To minimize or avoid criminal charges altogether, it is important to know common missteps that the accused often make in these scenarios to worsen their situations.
Not knowing your rights
As with other states, California does allow you to refuse a CPS investigator’s entry if they come to your house to question you. Unless they carry the proper warrant, they cannot forcefully come into your house. Should that happen, you can bring this issue up with the courtroom.
You also have the right to refuse an investigator’s questions, but you must be careful which ones you choose not to answer. If you refuse questions that are very relevant to the case or try to minimize the case, the investigator will become increasingly suspicious of your behavior.
Answering too much
While you do not want to leave the investigator completely in the dark, you also need to be careful with how much information you choose to reveal. These investigators are trying to find anything that can prove you guilty of abuse, so any slight excessive detail will be used against you.
Before the interview in or out of the courtroom, make sure you ask your fair share of questions to the investigator. Ask them what the allegations against you are and what type of information they are looking for. It can aid you in preparing your response to their interrogation.
Though it is important to state your rights to the investigator, you must also do so politely and allow some of their investigation if you want to avoid suspicion. If you act rude, overly nervous or combative when they talk to you, then it could justify the accusations against you and will be used in the courtroom.
Just like a DUI stop, even if you have the right to refuse their approach, you should consider what the consequences will be and how you go about doing so. If you have nothing to hide, going along with their investigation can minimize some of their suspicion. Just do not assume that you are completely out of trouble after they interview you.
If you do get word of their investigation ahead of time, it is crucial you contact a California criminal law attorney to help you understand your rights and prepare for the intense meeting. A CPS investigator can have a major impact on you and your child’s history, so you must arm yourself with as much knowledge on the matter as you can.