Appealing DCF Substantiation Findings in Stamford
Has DCF wrongly substantiated child abuse or neglect against you? A top DCF attorney can help protect your family’s rights and persuasively argue for a reversal of the findings
How Do I Request an Appeal in Stamford?
Under Connecticut General Statutes (C.G.S.) §17a-101k, when DCF issues a finding substantiating allegations of child abuse or neglect, the Department is supposed to provide a written notice describing the finding. This notice includes a form to be signed and returned if the individual alleged to have committed abuse or neglect wishes to appeal the findings.
To start the appeal, the individual must submit the form within 30 days. In addition, the person subject to the allegations should request a copy of the investigation results and review them thoroughly. Mistakes in factual information should be brought to the agency’s attention immediately.
An appeal request triggers an internal “pre-hearing” review process within DCF. If after review, the Department finds that the charges of abuse or neglect are not fully substantiated, DCF may reverse the substantiation finding and require no further action by the person initiating the appeal. If the review affirms the earlier determination, then DCF will assign the case to a hearing officer and notify the person accused, who may then request a hearing.
What Happens in a Substantiation Hearing?
In a substantiation hearing, both the individual charged with abuse or neglect and DCF have the right to submit oral testimony and documentary evidence supporting their position. However, the child alleged to have been abused or neglected may not testify in the hearing.
Both DCF and the accused individual may cross-examine witnesses. When appealing DCF substantiation findings in Stamford, it is important to realize that DCF bears the burden of proving the allegations by a preponderance of the evidence.
The hearing officer will issue written results within 30 days. If the outcome is unfavorable, the accused may file an appeal with the Superior Court.
What are the Differences Between a Substantiation Hearing and a Criminal Trial?
Although someone accused of child abuse or neglect by DCF may face substantial consequences, that person does not have the same rights as in a criminal trial. The accused has the right to an attorney when appealing DCF substantiation findings in Stamford, but the government will not appoint a public defender.
Moreover, the standard of proof differs from a criminal case. In a substantiation hearing, the DCF need only prove the allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. This standard is generally interpreted to mean the evidence indicates it was more likely than not that something occurred. On the other hand, in a criminal trial, the government bears the burden of proving the accused’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
A DCF investigation can also trigger criminal charges, so it is important to speak with a top Stamford DCF attorney who can advise you on what to do in both situations.
Contact a Stamford Attorney for More Information About Appealing DCF Substantiation Findings
A substantiation finding can lead to an individual being placed on the child abuse and neglect registry visible by the public. Such registration is embarrassing, and it can have serious professional and social implications, especially for those who work with children on a regular basis.
An experienced attorney could help in the process of appealing DCF substantiation findings in Stamford. Guidance from a legal advocate at Mark Sherman Law could help protect your rights and help ensure that you are able to take full advantage of all opportunities offered by the appeals process. Call today to schedule a consultation.