CPS Investigation Attorneys & False Allegations of Child Abuse
Child abuse is a heinous, vile, life-altering crime. False accusations of child abuse are just as heinous, vile and life altering. Seldom are the cases clear-cut. Often the motives behind the charges of child abuse are deeper, more sinister, and closer to home.
Child Protective Services
Virginia’s Department of Social Services maintains a permanent bureau, Child Protective Services (CPS) dedicated to countering the crime that is child abuse in all its forms:
- Abuse — This includes physical, mental, psychological, emotional, and sexual abuse
- Neglect — Possibly more shattering than being abused by a supposedly protective parent is being ignored; neglect can be physical, environmental, educational, supervisory, emotional, or medical
- Perinatal Substance Abuse — An expectant or new mother damages not only her own body with substance abuse, she injures her child, too
- Unexpected Death of a Child — Virginia is part of the National Fatality Review Case Reporting System
- Shaken Baby Syndrome
This is an abbreviated summary of crimes. Make no mistake, either: child abuse is a crime in Virginia, the entire United States, and among all signatory countries of the United Nations’ 1989 Declaration on the Rights of the Child. In Virginia, child abuse stands tall as a signal that the state will not tolerate it. The laws occupy an entire chapter in the legal Code of Virginia.
We lay this out to underline and emphasize that Virginia takes child abuse very seriously, and does everything the Commonwealth can to protect the most vulnerable Virginia citizens, its children. Anyone fighting charges of child abuse has powerful, persistent, forces arrayed against them. Anyone fighting such charges needs a strong legal defense team.
No one can easily ally themselves with child abuse; it provokes near-universal condemnation, even among lawyers who must defend child abusers. Yet equally despicable is the person who falsely accuses a Virginia man of child abuse, knowing the power of the state to relentlessly pursue and punish an abuser.
The legislators who crafted the Child Abuse and Neglect portion of Code of Virginia recognized the great power wielded by prosecutors protecting kids. They included, therefore, a short but vital section of law, § 63.2-1513, about knowingly making false reports:
Any person fourteen years of age or older who makes or causes to be made a report of child abuse or neglect pursuant to this chapter that he knows to be false shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Any person fourteen years of age or older who has been previously convicted under this subsection and who is subsequently convicted under this subsection shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.
Here are the penalties for Class 1 misdemeanors and Class 6 felonies:
- Class 1 misdemeanor — punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000
- Class 6 felony — “a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than five years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both”
Cost of Doing (Dirty) Business
For an avenging ex-wife, partner or mother of your children, the cost of a Class 1 misdemeanor may simply be the cost of doing some dirty business against you. She may be willing to risk the charge if it means tying you in knots, ruining your professional reputation, carving a chasm between you and your own kids, or getting you to capitulate to her unreasonable demands.
Keep in mind your accuser may gather allies to her cause long before she makes her accusations. She may ask child care workers, school teachers, Sunday school instructors, Scout leaders and others to “keep an eye on little Brenda; I don’t know how my little Brenda got so bruised.” She may hint to family members that, when visiting with you after divorce, winsome Wendy wets herself anytime your name is mentioned and she is completely baffled.
An accuser may use very subtle mind games on those loving, caring members of the community who interact with your child. She may merely hint, whisper, or make vague observations in an effort to build suspicion. And then, one day, you get a visit from CPS. Your life is altered. Your life may be destroyed.
You need to think through your relationship with your accuser, or the instigator of accusations. If you two parted amicably, you may find a financial motive underlying accusations of child abuse. If you two had an acrimonious separation, revenge may be her only motive.
Prevention and precaution are two strategies you can use to guard against any accusation, and make more obvious the falsity of her claims:
- If you go out of your way to be civil, even pleasant, with her in every encounter, she has wobbly ground to claim you are some kind of monster.
- If in public and around extended family you shower your children with love, support, guidance and help, how can she point to instances of abuse?
- If you maintain open communication with teachers, family members, Scout leaders and anyone who has regular contact with your own children, they will be less likely to take the bait your accuser offers.
One excellent precaution, after separation or during divorce, is to speak with an attorney so you know the best strategy for dealing with your children, your ex-wife or partner, and any accusations she may make against you.
Engaging a good family law attorney gives you the kind of protective services you need against the overwhelming strength of CPS. A CPS investigation knows few bounds:
- Investigators can conduct a family assessment
- They can have a medical professional examine your child without your consent or presence
- They can contact your child’s school and doctor
- They will probe almost everywhere they feel they need to in order to protect your child
Your attorney can help you defend yourself, and will work forcefully to remind CPS that a false child abuse allegation against you is a crime.
Your attorney can compel CPS to keep your record for up to three years from the date of the complaint. This gives you and your attorney time to gain access to the CPS record through Section 63.2-1514 of the Code of Virginia and learn the identity of the reporter.
Few feelings are as cold, stomach-churning or terrifying as finding a CPS investigator at your doorstep. Your first call should be to a law firm experienced in countering the intrusive, corrosive effects of a CPS investigation, particularly when the charges are false.
No Virginia man should face the weight of a CPS investigation without good legal counsel. Too much — your livelihood, your relationship with your children, your reputation, and your freedom — is at stake.
When facing charges of child abuse, you need tough attorneys. Contact The Firm For Men at (757) 383-9184, or contact us online, so we can begin defending you against these charges. False allegations of child abuse can destroy your life. Let us defend your rights under the law, protect the relationship you have with your own children, and see that justice is served.