Killeen CPS Investigations Defense Attorneys
Aggressive defense against allegations of child abuse and endangerment for families in Harker Heights, Waco, Copperas Cove and across Central Texas
Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) has the extremely difficult job of working to protect children of abuse, as well as to rehabilitate and reunite the families where abuse or neglect have been an issue. Unfortunately, this agency is often ineffective at this mission, instead interfering with parental rights and breaking up families either based on false accusations or the agency’s own interests. Dealing with CPS authorities is a difficult and intimidating process, and you need the knowledge of a smart, tough lawyer on your side.
If CPS is investigating your family for abuse or neglect, you could lose custody of your children. It’s imperative you talk to our Killeen family law attorneys as soon as possible. At the Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm, we’re parents, too. We understand the stress and anxiety you’re experiencing, and we want to help. We can help guide you through the legal process with Child Protective Services and defend you tenaciously in court. Call us today.
What does Child Protective Services do?
Part of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, CPS investigates reports of child abuse and neglect throughout the state. They also:
- Help children get adopted
- Place children in foster care
- Provide in-home services to children and families
- Provide services to help youth in foster care transition to adulthood
Anyone can report child abuse or neglect to CPS – and remain anonymous – and the agency must begin an investigation to determine if those allegations are true. They can also look into you and your family to determine if your child or children are at risk for abuse. If a CPS caseworker determines abuse has occurred, or there is a risk for abuse, they’ll put protective services into action.
In one year, CPS agencies checked up on 3.2 million children – 2.5 million of those kids were declared 'non-victims.' [The Atlantic]
If someone alleges abuse or neglect of a child in your family, CPS may become involved, as Texas law requires these allegations to be investigated. Child Protective Services typically gets involved in matters like:
- Child abandonment
- Child endangerment
- Child exploitation
- Child neglect
- Drug abuse
- Physical, emotional or sexual abuse
- Unlocked firearms
- Unsafe living conditions
The worst-case scenario in these circumstances is that CPS may remove your children from your home and place them in the care of another – typically with a relative, but sometimes in foster care. If the agency does get a court order to remove your children from their home, you and the other parent will be named as parties in a case brought by the government.
In extreme cases, you can lose complete parental rights to your children, or your rights to child custody could be significantly limited. The stakes in CPS cases are high, and it’s critical you hire a qualified attorney as soon as possible.
What happens during a Texas CPS investigation?
There are three categories for CPS investigations, divided by urgency. The first category are cases that require immediate investigations (within 24 hours), as they typically involve imminent risk of physical harm or death. The second category carries less immediate risk and cases are investigated within 72 hours. Reports from category three, that carry unidentified risk or are ruled out, are typically disregarded unless CPS receives repeated reports.
If a CPS investigator comes to your home, you should expect them to do the following:
- Interview your child and you
- Inform you of the report made about your child (but not who made it)
- Make a safety plan for your child, if they believe abuse has occurred
- Inspect or examine your home
- Ask for the child’s medical records or history
The majority of the time with these types of visits, all you have to do is show the CPS caseworker that you can and do keep your child safe. Our attorneys can reach out to your neighbors, your child’s teachers or doctors to help corroborate the fact you’re not a neglectful or abusive parent. These are valuable types of witnesses as they have regular and close contact with your child, and would be some of the first to notice signs of abuse or neglect. And, if an accidental injury is what led to the investigation in the first place, a witness can help show in court it was not abuse.
The scary thing about CPS investigations is they can proceed over a few days or over a few hours. An investigation can move so fast it can make your head spin, and before you know what’s happening, your child has been removed from your home and your family. As soon as you know you’re being investigated, call our Killeen CPS defense attorneys immediately for timely help.
Should I let a CPS investigator into my home?
No. You do not have to let a CPS investigator into your home, and they don’t have the right to enter your home without a warrant. Even if they bring law enforcement, remember that the police also require a warrant. You can voluntarily invite CPS into your home if they request, but you must be aware that you are inviting the investigator to find a reason to justify the trip – as well as waiving your Fourth Amendment rights with law enforcement.
What happens after a CPS investigation?
After a CPS investigation, the caseworker is required to determine if abuse or neglect occurred. If the agency decides none occurred, the case is closed. However, if the caseworker decides there is evidence or a risk of abuse or neglect, CPS can:
- Create a service plan. CPS should try to work with your family to protect the best interests of your child. They may offer assistance including counseling, group therapy, parental support services and more.
- Remove the child from the home. If CPS determines your child isn’t safe at home, they’ll secure a court order to take custody of your child. Our attorneys can help you fight this order. In some cases, however, the agency may determine your child is in immediate danger and legally remove them without getting a court order. Again, call our CPS defense attorneys right away for help.
Do not sign any service or safety plan until you speak with an attorney. And remember – there is never any “off the record” conversation with a CPS caseworker. We can do the talking for you and ensure your rights as a parent are fully protected.
Let us help you get your kids back
If CPS makes the decision to remove your children, you have the right to a hearing in court, called an Adversary Hearing. This hearing happens no later than 14 days after your children were removed from your care. During this hearing, our attorneys will cross-examine witnesses called by CPS, present our own witnesses and demonstrate strong evidence to the judge that your children are not in danger and should be immediately returned home.
Whenever CPS gets involved with your family, it’s vital you contact our knowledgeable Killeen lawyers right at the beginning. Reports of child abuse, child neglect or worse could result in criminal prosecution, removal of the child from the home and possible termination of parent’s rights. To prevent your child from being taken away from you and into foster care, contact us as soon as possible.
Strong defense against CPS investigations in Central Texas
Here at the Law Office of Mary Beth Harrell, we understand that a CPS investigation can negatively impact you and your family for a lifetime. If a CPS caseworker has started an investigation on your family, it’s critical that you know your rights. Our family law attorneys provide tough and knowledgeable representation. Contact us today at 254-680-4655 or by filling out our contact form below, or here. We have offices in Killeen, Copperas Cove, and Waco, and handle in-custody visits for clients who cannot come to us.