Appealing DCF Substantiation Findings in Wilton
If the Department of Children and Families (DCF) substantiated allegations of child abuse or neglect against you, you should take steps to defend yourself and protect your family. Let a top Wilton attorney help you appeal DCF substantiation findings.
How Do I Appeal a DCF Substantiation Finding?
To start the process of appealing DCF substantiation findings in Wilton, the accused person files a “Request for Appeal of Substantiation Findings.” This same form is also used to appeal a recommendation for placement on the DCF Central Registry, another consequence of a DCF investigation.
While everyone who receives a substantiation finding has the right to seek an appeal of the results, if they fail to file a notice of appeal within the appropriate timeframe, they forfeit that right. From the time an individual receives a “Notification of Investigation Results (Substantiated),” they have 60 days to file an appeal.
What Does DCF Do After Receiving a Request for Appeal?
When DCF receives a request for an appeal, the agency launches an internal review of the results of the investigator’s report. If criminal or civil court proceedings regarding the alleged abuse or neglect are pending, the review will be delayed until that case is resolved.
During the internal review, DCF staff will consider whether the finding of substantiation should be reversed as legally and factually deficient. If the agency affirms the substantiation finding, then the accused person may request a hearing.
What Happens During a DCF Hearing?
A DCF appeal hearing is conducted like a court trial, but with several key differences. A hearing officer resides over the case, not a judge. The hearing officer is the finder of fact, not a jury. DCF bears the burden of proving the case by a preponderance of the evidence. This is a lower standard than criminal court. There are similarities too though. Both sides are permitted to present witnesses, cross-examine adverse witnesses, and enter exhibits to prove their case.
Many people seek help from an attorney to prepare for a hearing. In some situations, an attorney could even help negotiate a resolution of the case prior to the hearing.
Legal Counsel Could Help You Appeal DCF Substantiation Findings in Wilton
The DCF investigation process tends to be fairly one-sided. The standard for substantiation is subjective and reasonable minds could disagree as to what is and isn’t abuse or neglect.
The process of appealing DCF substantiation findings in Wilton gives you the ability to defend yourself. To take full advantage of the opportunities in the appeals process, it can be helpful to consult an attorney with experience advocating for families in DCF cases. An accomplished attorney could help guide you through the appeals process and fight to protect your parental rights. Call Mark Sherman Law to schedule a consultation.