Appealing DCF Substantiation Findings in Norwalk
If you are under investigation by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), or if you need help navigating a substantiation hearing, contact a top defense lawyer to learn how to best protect your rights. A skilled Norwalk attorney can help you appeal DCF substantiation findings.
How Does a DCF Investigation Begin?
Anyone can initiate a DCF investigation by making an anonymous complaint to the 24/7 DCF hotline. The most common complainants, however, are police officers and mandated reporters. A DCF investigation lasts 45 days and during this time investigators will speak with you, the child, and anyone else who may have information.
Who is a Mandated Reporter?
Mandated reporters include teachers, social workers, athletic coaches, and mental health professionals. These individuals are subject to criminal penalties if they fail to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect.
What Happens When DCF Completes an Investigation?
After DCF workers complete their investigation, they must determine whether to substantiate the claim. Substantiation means DCF has a reasonable belief that abuse or neglect has occurred.
What Does a Substantiation Finding Mean for My Family?
Substantiation could lead to a variety of outcomes, including placement on the DCF central registry and / or even removal of the child from the home. It’s important to note that families have the right to challenge the findings and recommendations. By appealing DCF substantiation findings, Norwalk families may be able to have them overturned.
During the appeals process, the target of the investigation may be able to introduce evidence to counter the substantiated findings of abuse or neglect. They can also cross-examine DCF witnesses to shed doubt on their testimony and conclusions. In this manner, families may be able to overcome the allegations against them.
How Do I Appeal Substantiation Findings?
Once DCF has entered a substantiation of abuse or neglect against parents or other caretakers of children, the affected individuals have the right to request an internal review by DCF within 30 days. This internal review is the first step of the appeals process, and individuals have no right to a hearing until the internal review is complete. Following the internal review, DCF either will uphold or reverse the substantiation.
If DCF upholds its substantiation determination, the parents or guardians then have 30 days in which to request an administrative hearing. These hearings typically occur at DCF field offices in front of attorneys appointed by DCF as hearing officers. Administrative hearings are less formal than court hearings, and the rules of evidence are more relaxed.
Let a Norwalk Attorney Help You Appeal DCF Substantiation Findings
An attorney with experience handling DCF investigations and appeals can help protect your family’s interests. A lawyer can provide advice about how to answer DCF’s questions without providing them with evidence to use against you. When appealing DCF substantiation findings in Norwalk, having a strong legal advocate could make a critical difference in the outcome of your case. Call Mark Sherman Law today for a consultation.