Appealing DCF Substantiation Findings in Ridgefield
Even if an investigation conducted by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) ends with DCF “substantiating” the allegations of child abuse or neglect against you, that does not necessarily mean you have to accept that finding as being set in stone. By effectively appealing DCF substantiation findings in Ridgefield with a seasoned defense attorney’s help, have the best chance at getting improperly obtained evidence thrown out and securing a favorable result.
DCF Substantiation Findings
One essential thing to understand about DCF investigations is that the DCF does not have to meet the same “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard as criminal prosecutors to “substantiate” abuse allegations. Instead, DCF investigators only have to state their opinion—based on multiple forms of subjective evidence—that abuse or neglect has likely occurred. They will then express further views about whether that alleged abuse or neglect is likely to continue and whether the person or family under investigation should be placed in the Department’s publicly viewable Central Registry.
Appealing DCF substantiation findings in Ridgefield typically entails arguing that investigators did not actually establish “probable cause” to believe that abuse or neglect was taking place. A skilled attorney’s guidance is vital to constructing a solid defense strategy and ensuring interactions with DCF investigators go as smoothly as possible.
Beginning the DCF Appeals Process
Once someone receives written notice from DCF that the allegations against them have been “substantiated,” that person has 30 days to fill out the Appeal Request Form (Form 2210b) that DCF should have included alongside the notice of substantiation. A return address should also be listed on the Appeal Request Form.
After receiving an Appeal Request, Ridgefield DCF will internally review the investigation in question and determine whether the original investigators’ substantiation findings should be overturned. If this internal review concludes that the substantiation was valid, the person pursuing an appeal can ask for a hearing to continue the appellate process.
Preparing for a DCF Appeals Hearing
During appeal hearings, DCF holds the burden of proving that they found enough evidence to establish probable cause that serious abuse or neglect was happening. To reiterate, this is a much lower standard of proof than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and courts tend to look favorably on DCF compared to people appealing substantiation findings in Ridgefield.
That said, appellants still have the right to present evidence in their defense, cross-examine DCF investigators, and solicit testimony from witnesses like pediatricians, therapists, and police officers. In some cases, simply moving forward toward a formal hearing can be enough to get DCF to negotiate with a defense attorney for a private settlement outside of court.
Let a Ridgefield Attorney Help With Appealing DCF Substantiation Findings
DCF has a great deal of authority in Connecticut, but that does not mean decisions made to substantiate suspicions of neglect or abuse are completely unassailable. Appealing DCF substantiation findings in Ridgefield is far from easy, though, and you will have far better chances of securing a favorable case resolution by working with a tenacious and time-tested attorney from the Law Offices of Mark Sherman. Call today to learn more, and click here to see what our previous clients have to say about working with our team.