Category Archives: Specific DYFS Situations
Unexplained Injuries in DYFS cases
Allegations of physical child abuse can take many forms but they often falls into two categories: cases where someone witnessed a parent or caregiver abuse a child or cases where there are injuries to a child that could only have been caused by abuse. That second set of cases can be described as unexplained injuries. While there are other things that could have caused these injuries, the parents usually report that nothing happened. Without any other explanation, the only other cause left is abuse. That’s why we call them unexplained injuries. Shaken baby syndrome is a subset of these cases but unexplained injuries can involve older children.
If DYFS suspect you of injuring your child, you should call a lawyer immediately/. Anything you do or say will be noted and that can be twisted and turned around against you. Quite often, they do not look for other explanations. For example, we had a client that was accused of harming her child. Our client said the child fell of a bike but DYFS said it was abuse. We found that there was dirt inside the handle bars of the child’s bike that was consistent with our client’s story. Our DYFS defense lawyers then hired an expert to support this theory. The report was submitted to DYFS and the case was dismissed the day before the trial was to begin.
The lesson learned here is that you cannot assume that DYFS will perform a full and fair investigation into this case. If you had to bring your child to the doctor’s office or hospital and DYFS was called regarding these injuries, you are likely a suspect even if they don’t come out and say that. If that happens, your next call should be to a DYFS defense attorney. Call us at 1-855-9-JEFLAW to discuss your case.
Shaken Baby Syndrome in DYFS cases
Shaken baby syndrome is common DYFS issue but it can unlike any other set of allegations. That is because the procedures are different and the science involved is very complex. In plain English, Shaken baby syndrome is when an adult shakes a baby which results in injuries. The reasons why people shake babies may vary but it is often out of anger and frustration. Most of the time, the adult does not understand how fragile the baby is and does not think that their actions caused any injuries because the child may not exhibit any signs of being injured. In fact, in many cases the baby falls asleep as a way of coping with the pain. Its only when the baby wakes up does a parent or caregiver realize that there is something wrong and the child is brought to a doctor.
Because there is often a delay between the actions and the discovery of the injuries, time lines become crucial to winning or losing the case. A doctor will determine a range of times that the injuries occurred. Anyone that hanlded the baby within that time period will be a suspect and DYFS will likey bring all of those people to court. If there is even a chance that you are in this potential pool of suspects, it is important that you call a DYFS defense lawyer before you say or do anything. The simplest comment by you could be used to paint you as the prime suspect.
Hiring a lawyer to defense you against shaken baby syndrome allegations will not make you look guilty. Chances are, you are already a suspect anyway. Before you say or do anything, call our team of tough, smart defense attorneys at 1-855-9-JEFLAW. We’ve successfully handled these cases and we will fight for you. There are a number of defenses that can be used to help you. There are other explanations including medical conditions that could have caused these injuries. Let us go through even possible explanation to protect you.
Please note that this is my opinion only. There are laws that DYFS has to follow and then there are internal policies or rules that DYFS has to follow but just like any other agency, it doesn’t mean that they always will. The Internet has made things difficult for lawyers because clients can get some information, some of which may be wrong, and then they twist it around to benefit their case. Even though the lawyer is the expert, they try to tell the lawyer that he/she is wrong because of something they read on the Internet!
One recent example involves a client who thought that she didn’t have to speak with DYFS because they only have 60 days to complete their investigation. Since it has been more than 4 months, the client wanted me to confirm that she could just tell them to go away. So, besides the client calling me with not even a thought of ever hiring me, she wanted me to confirm that she didn’t have to speak with DYFS and was then upset when I told her that she was wrong. DYFS doesn’t always follow their own rules and when they don’t, it doesn’t mean that you benefit.
The surest way to make sure DYFS goes away is to call a lawyer that knows what he/she is doing. As I have said before, plenty of people have made DYFS go away without a lawyer but plenty of people have also screwed up their case by handling it on their own and as a result, they wound up in court. Click on the “DYFS Trap” link above to learn more about why this happens.
Call our DYFS Investigation Lawyers today to discuss your case and how we can help make sure you don’t go to court.
One of the most frustrating aspect of my job is dealing with clients that make assumptions about their case. This often comes up when the client receives a letter from DYFS that the allegations were unfounded. They then call me only to ask me if they need a lawyer and then they proceed to tell me that they don’t need a DYFS lawyer because the allegations were unfounded. Or the other scenario is a couple where one wants a lawyer but the other parent doesn’t. Of course, the first question that comes up is why call a lawyer only to convince yourself you don’t need one? Putting that aside, I wrote the DYFS Trap so that people would understand why this thinking can get them in trouble. I didn’t invent this. I see this happen all of the time. I am attempting to share other people’s horror stories so that you can learn from other people’s mistakes. Unfortunately, not everyone does. I get several calls a week from people that just don’t get it.
Compounding this problem is that there are plenty of people that handle DYFS cases without an attorney and they come out fine. So, if they talk to another attorney or they talk to a friend, they will say “see, I don’t need an attorney because of ….”. This is only bolstered when the parent receives an unfounded letter. However, what they don’t understand is that when DYFS says that they “will be providing services to your family” is a huge sign of danger. As I indicated in the DYFS Trap, many people wind up in DYFS court because of their interaction with DYFS after the initial allegation and not because of the initial allegation itself. Thus, just because you don’t think that DYFS will substantiate you for the initial allegation or if DYFS has already given you an unfounded letter does not mean that you can breathe easily. Instead of assuming you are out of the woods, you should assume that you are in for big problems. Its much cheaper to stay out of court than to roll the dice and wind up in court.
If you received an unfounded letter but DYFS still wants you to do services, call our team of tough, smart DYFS Defense Lawyers to discuss your case.
Hospitals, like schools, work hand-in-hand with DYFS (DCPP). If they suspect that you have been using drugs, they will scrutinize everything about you including everything you say or do. Besides testing your blood to determine recent drug usage, they will also test your baby’s meconium for drug use during pregnancy. Meconium is your baby’s first bowel movement. Its a dark, sticky and odorless tar like substance. It is one of the key tests use to bring a case against you.
If there is any talk about anyone at the hospital suspecting you of drug use, testing the baby’s meconium for drug exposure or calling DYFS, you should call a lawyer ASAP. The hospital will likely place a hold on your baby so that it cannot leave the hospital. DYFS will then issue a DODD removal and force you into court. Anything you say to anyone will be used against you. Thus, allowing an attorney to do all of the talking for you is highly advisable.
Keep in mind that the hospital will not just be testing for illegal drugs. Prescription drugs are more of an issue these days and if you do not have a prescription, the hospital will consider this as abuse. Of course, a DODD removal does not mean that all is lost. Our lawyers have been successful in helping clients get their babies back from DYFS right away. If the hospital has a DYFS hold on your baby, call our team of tough, smart NJ DYFS defense lawyers and let us help you get your baby home.
Thankfully, DYFS doesn’t act on every allegation that they get. When they don’t, the other parent could get upset and bring their own action to restrict your parenting time. This can be a tough situation because its not technically a DYFS case but the other parent is using the DYFS allegations (that they may have called in) as the basis for bringing their motion. As a result, some people may hire a New Jersey lawyer that knows nothing about DYFS and as a result, they could do a lot of damage to your case. Our New Jersey DFYS lawyers also handle many child custody cases. Thus, our team of tough, smart attorneys can handle your child custody case regardless of the content of the DYFS allegations.
Dealing with DYFS involved custody cases in New Jersey
Our lawyers have noticed a disturbing trend in New Jersey over the last few years. Instead of DYFS filing a Title 9 complaint against one of the parents where there are accusations of abuse and neglect, DYFS helps one of the parents fight against the other. This presents a whole host of problems. The first problem is when there is a divorce or custody case already in progress or at least contemplated. In those cases, the parent at issue may already have a lawyer involved. However, it is unlikely that that lawyer will have any experience in DYFS matters since most family court lawyers rarely handle such cases. We know because we have seen this issue many, many times. Without the ability to make key moves early on in the case, the parent’s rights suffer greatly.
Another big problem is that DYFS is like the unseen enemy. They are causing a lot of problems, they are writing reports and they are communicating with the other side but they may never be in the court room! Thus, trying to fight this unseen enemy can be very tough. In a normal DYFS case, the lawyer for the parent has access to the entire DYFS file. In a case where DYFS is just involved, you have access to nothing unless your attorney files a motion. In addition, DYFS cases allow you to have trials where in a DYFS involved case, the judge has the power to create their own rules. Its a very tough situation to be in and as a result, a lawyer will little to no experience in such matters can cause a lot of problems.
That is why our team of tough and aggressive DYFS / DCPP lawyers know how to handle all aspects of a DYFS case from DYFS investigations, divorces with DYFS allegations or custody trials where DYFS is involved. We can also handle any and all criminal allegations related to the DYFS allegations. Call us today to discuss your case for free.
Dealing with false DYFS allegations in New Jersey
Most people that call us about DYFS / DCPP matters in New Jersey are very upset that DYFS is bothering them about false allegations. What most people don’t understand is that their innocence is irrelevant. Many innocent people have lost their children because they didn’t handle the case the right way. Likewise, many innocent people are sitting in prison right now because they didn’t have quality legal representation. Just look at the Innocence Project and how many people have been freed by DNA evidence. Just imagine how many more people are in the same situation but cannot be helped since DNA is not a factor in their case?
Another way to look at is would you want your lawyer to put in less than full effort because you are in fact guilty? Of course not. We get paid to do a job and we don’t judge our clients. Thus, guilt or innocence in and of itself is not the key issue in the case. The issue is evidence. You could be the most innocent person in the world but if you can’t deal with the evidence against you, you will likely lose your case. The converse is also true. If you are the most guilty person in the world and the State does not have enough evidence to prove it, you will likely win your case.
Whenever I tell someone this, the response is often the same: well they don’t have any evidence against me. Is that possible? Sure. Is that likely? Almost never. Your idea of what evidence is and DYFS’ idea of what evidence is are two different things. If they are bringing a case against you, they likely have evidence against you no matter how false or flimsy it may be. It doesn’t mean that you will lose your case but it also doesn’t mean that it will go away instantly. We have shut down many cases very quickly but the vast majority of all DYFS cases take at least six months to handle with a good portion of those taking up to twelve months.
Finally, there is a difference between evidence of guilt and evidence of personal issues that require services. We have been very successful in getting the abuse and neglect charges dismissed but even in that case, the Court can keep the case open for services under Title 30. Usually, the case can get shut down shortly after that. Thus, don’t get too concerned or emotional about guilt vs. innocence.. Let your lawyer handle the case for what it is and trust that he or she will shut it down as soon as possible regardless of how guilty or innocent you may be.
What to do when DYFS / DCPP requests a substance abuse evaluation
DYFS loves nothing more than to request substance abuse evaluations. Most people, thinking they have nothing to hide, agree to participate in the evaluation. This is often where cases go down hill. See, you probably won’t get a choice and where to go for the evaluation. The DYFS case worker will likely force you to go to one of their places such as Preferred. Often times, the evaluator works in DYFS’ office. Thus, while they claim that their agencies are separate, it seems rather odd that they are in the same exact office.
The other odd thing here is how different the results of their evaluations are from anyone else that I use. I work with some of the top evaluators in the state and they are not “hired guns”. They will call it like they see it. DYFS’ people may send someone to drug treatment for smoking one joint over 10 years ago. I know because I helped a former neighbor get out of long term drug treatment for that exact issue. DYFS and their providers seem hell bent on getting people in the system for long periods of time. While their exact motive is unclear, DYFS’ motivation may be to keep you involved as long as possible to see if you screw up. Even people that don’t use drugs often or have been sober for a while use drugs due to the stress of dealing with DYFS. I’ve seen it countless times. People that had 10 years sober have cracked under the pressure. The result is a DYFS complaint being filed against them. For the provider doing the treatment, they obviously get money for keeping the person there as long as possible.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that all evaluations are biased, but it certainly seems that many are for one reason or another. It could also just be a prejudice against people with DYFS cases since personal opinion may play a big factor in the ultimate decision even though it shouldn’t. As I have said in other posts, outright refusing to go through with the substance abuse evaluation could land you in court and your children in foster care. The best way to handle a request by DYFS / DCPP to undergo a substance abuse evaluation is to call an attorney before you even respond to the request. Let the attorney talk for you and guide you as to how to handle this. If your case worker is asking you or your family members to participate in a substance abuse evaluation, call our team of tough, smart defense attorneys right away before you do or say anything.
Dealing with a divorce in New Jersey with DYFS allegations and investigations
During the course of a divorce case, one spouse may decide to make DYFS / DCPP allegations in an effort to gain an advantage. The problem here is that many New Jersey divorce lawyers have little to no experience with DYFS. Quite often, these lawyers either make the wrong moves or make no moves at all. This can lead to disastrous results in both the divorce case and the DYFS case or investigation. The moves made at the early start of the case can have a lasting impact on the rest of the case.
Thankfully, most attorneys are honest enough to admit that they have no ability to help you with the DYFS aspect of the divorce case. At that point, you have to find another attorney to help you with the DYFS case or the DYFS aspect of the case. While you can have two attorneys or even ten attorneys, you could have use handle all of your family court matters. Our team of tough, smart DYFS / DCPP can handle your divorce case along with any DYFS allegations or cases that go along with it. If you want one law firm calling all the shots, our team will do that for you. Call us anytime.
Dealing with DYFS in New Jersey when you have a child with autism
Our lawyers have represented many clients who had DYFS / DCPP cases or investigations with a child that has autism (or a another ASD such as Aspergers). For some reason, this issue touches a big nerve with DYFS. DYFS seems to take the position that the parents do not know how to handle a child with autism even if there is no such allegation in the case. I’ve literally been in a case involving another issue like drug abuse and as soon as DYFS finds out that the child has autism, they automatically want the parent to get involved in a large number of services because they assume that the parents cannot handle the child or don’t know how to parent a special needs child. Luckily, we were there to shut this down as our clients were good parents. Just because a child has special needs doesn’t mean that a child is out of control and/or that the parents have no idea what they are doing. Don’t let DYFS / DCPP bully you and your family. Call our team of tough and aggressive DYFS defense lawyers today.
DYFS and domestic violence allegations in New Jersey
Plenty of people have domestic violence issues in New Jersey but not everyone has to deal with DYFS (DCPP). The police seem to size people up based upon a number of factors as to whether to call DYFS (DCPP). Some of these factors may be people that are on disability, prior drug issues, prior criminal history and people that don’t have a lot of money. Regardless of why the police decided to get DYFS involved in your case, the fact is that you have to deal with it and deal with it ASAP. Our team of tough, smart New Jersey DYFS lawyers can not only help you defeat the DYFS allegations, but we can also help you with the domestic violence charges.
In many cases, DYFS has taken the position that the couple must break up. This causes great strain on a couple that wants to stay together. However, I have also been in cases where DYFS wants the couple to stay together when at least one side doesn’t want to. Thus, there is no one way DYFS handles these matters except that in any case, DYFS often recommends counseling and other services.
As always, the decision as to whether or not to engage in services is not an easy decision. From a practical standpoint, many people have work and other responsibilities that may make it difficult if not impossible to engage in DYFS services. Even more importantly, anything you say during domestic violence counseling (i.e. GEM counseling) can be used against you. Even if you don’t say anything bad, words can be put in your mouth or your words can be twisted and later used against you.
All of this can land you in DYFS court with your children being removed. To avoid all of this, you should hire a lawyer at the first sign of any DYFS investigation or involvement. Our team of tough, smart DYFS (DCPP) lawyers can help you resolve your DYFS investigation. No matter where you live in New Jersey, we can help you.