Fighting a Connecticut DCF Investigation
Whenever there is a domestic violence arrest in Connecticut that involves children, or takes place in the presence or vicinity of children, then under Connecticut law, DCF must launch an investigation into you and your family. You should understand your rights.
Even in cases where a minor verbal domestic argument or confrontation takes place between spouses or significant others, a Connecticut DCF investigation commences and you are faced with a criminal court domestic violence case. For help with fighting a Connecticut DCF investigation, get in touch with a dedicated DCF attorney at our firm.
What Is The Connecticut DCF Investigation Process?
DCF investigations being with a referral by phone or written report. Anyone can make a DCF referral report to the DCF telephone hotline; however, certain professionals called “mandated reporters” are required by law to make DCF referrals. “Mandated reporters” are individuals, usually educators and health professionals, who are obligated by Connecticut law, C.G.S. § 17a-101a, to report any reasonable belief or suspicion that a minor under the age of 18, or a public school student (regardless of age), is the victim of abuse or neglect, or is in imminent risk of serious harm.
Mandated reporters’ obligations do not stop here. They are required to report even suspected abuse or neglect of minors. As the best attorneys and lawyers appreciate, mere “suspicions” present a very low threshold. For example, a bruise on a young boy or girl that the child received from a fall during sports or on the jungle gym can trigger a DCF report if the reporter is suspicious that abuse may be involved.
DCF reports can originate from the imaginations of kids who are looking for attention and tell tall tales to their friends. A single phone call to DCF by a mandated reporter will initiate the investigation process, no matter how far-fetched the story may be. DCF mandated reporters typically err on the side of caution when making reports, as any failure to make an obligated report can result in criminal or civil penalties against mandated reporter.
What Should I Expect During a DCF Investigation?
Once DCF begins their investigation, it can sometimes escalate into an overreaching intrusion into every aspect of your life and your child’s life. Frequent visits to your home can become the norm during a DCF investigation, as can interviews with your children, their teachers, their pediatricians, dentists and mental health providers, and sometimes other family members and even your neighbors.
If you or your lawyer does not stand up for your privacy rights, then these investigations can cause your neighbors and peers to start asking questions like “Why is DCF investigating this family so aggressively? Should I be concerned about this family?”
There’s no question that DCF investigators are well-intentioned, but if you give them carte blanche to speak to all the care providers in your child’s life, then you could be doing you and your family more harm than good. While we have tried to cover the basics of fighting your Connecticut DCF investigation, reach out to learn more about the specifics of DCF investigations and how to cost-effectively get them dismissed as quickly as possible.
The Results of a DCF Investigation – Substantiation & Appeals
After DCF completes a DCF Full Investigation, they will issue a report that will incorporate their conclusions as to whether the allegations are “substantiated” or “unsubstantiated.” DCF must make this determination within 45 days of the initial referral. DCF will also make a finding as to whether you pose a physical or emotional threat to the child’s health, and will also determine whether the findings will be published in the public DCF registry. If the abuse or neglect is believed to be severe, DCF can seek additional remedies from the Juvenile Division of the Superior Court that, if granted, will most likely affect your parental rights.
Typically, the request will be to remove your child from your home, temporarily suspend your parental rights, or impose court-ordered counseling or supervised visitation. No matter what the result, the report will be preserved at DCF and will be made available for use in future trials or investigations if necessary.
Can I Appeal a DCF Decision?
You can always appeal a DCF decision, and many people do this once they receive a Connecticut DCF substantiation finding. The Connecticut DCF appeal process allows you to call witnesses and take the DCF to task to satisfy their burden of proof in substantiating their allegations, a far cry from the DCF investigation process where you do not have right to confront your accusers, present evidence, or offer any testimony to an impartial judge or arbitrator. So if you are interested in fighting back against your DCF investigation, contact a top Connecticut attorney as soon as possible (as there are time deadlines to timely file an appeal).
Fight a Connecticut DCF Investigation with the Help of an Attorney
Many times, individuals do not believe that an attorney is necessary in DCF investigations. After all, you might feel that you have not done anything wrong, or that an attorney is only necessary when you are guilty. The problem with this thinking is that DCF investigations may start out small, but upon a mere suspicion, investigations can quickly escalate the severity of the investigation and, in some case, refer it to the police.
So if you are being investigated by DCF, you should contact us today. We have a great deal of experience and success in counseling clients through DCF investigations, appealing DCF decisions, and fighting a Connecticut DCF investigation so it has as little impact on and interference with your life as possible.