Trusted Brooklyn ACS Defense Lawyer Ready To Help You
You may feel helpless when your relationship with your children is at risk. You deserve an advocate who will fight for your family’s best interests.
Have you been found “indicated” in a New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) report? Are you currently in family court fighting abuse or neglect allegations? Below, our Brooklyn ACS defense lawyer at Gilmer Law Firm, PLLC, describes several aspects of an ACS investigation and how we can help you. For a one-on-one consultation, you can reach us at 718-864-2011.
Our Brooklyn, New York City ACS Attorney has defended parents, foster care parents, doctors, teachers, social workers, and other childcare professionals accused of abuse or neglect by ACS. For families, a Court case or an indicated report made by ACS could mean aggressive ACS involvement in your family life for an extended period of time. For the above-named professionals, an indicated report will damage your reputation and cause possible loss of employment and prevent you from working around children. This is why you need a legal advocate with decades of experience fighting for you against these allegations.
The ACS Investigation Process
An ACS case often begins with a surprise knock on your door in the middle of the night. Sometimes accompanied by a police officer, an ACS worker will demand to see your children. At times, these workers don’t even show ID to prove they are from ACS. Sometimes they won’t even let you know what the charges are against you.
Should I Let ACS Into My Home?
At this point, you have a decision to make. Should I let them in? What happens if I don’t let them in?
The question of whether to let them in is not an easy one to answer. First of all, you have the right not to let them in if they do not have a court order. However, if you do not let them in they can go to court and seek an order requesting that you produce the children. Furthermore, if they go to Court and show that the child is in imminent risk, they possibly can obtain an order to have the child removed. Some parents, in order to avoid problems, let ACS in even if the allegations are false. These parents will say they simply have nothing to hide. If you let them in and ACS begins an investigation on your case, they will investigate you for 60 days and make visits to your home once every two weeks.
What Happens If I Don’t Let ACS in My Home?
If after an ACS case opens and the facts and circumstances of this case are presented to an ACS agency attorney, the ACS lawyer may file a petition to gain access to your home, requiring that you appear in court. Some people choose to force ACS to go to court and get a court order to get in. The reasoning behind this is that a judge may determine that the facts and circumstances are not sufficient enough to prove that the children are in any danger and the judge won’t issue a court order.
It’s important to note that just because ACS can’t get a court order to enter your home does not mean that your administrative case is closed. You’ll still have to go through the investigation process, and could face an abuse or neglect report.
If ACS files a petition to gain access to your home, or you’re facing an ACS investigation, you need an experienced Brooklyn ACS defense attorney, like ours at the Gilmer Law Firm, PLLC, by your side. Call our office at 718-568-5268 to see your options regarding representation.
What Happens After ACS’s Initial Contact?
If ACS does not go to court for access to your home, and you cooperate with the investigation, as stated above, the investigation will take 60 days.
At the beginning of the investigation, you are entitled to a letter notifying you that a case has been opened. This letter will contain your case ID as well as other details, such as the accusation against you. After the 60 days is up, ACS needs to send you a letter showing you the results of the investigation. If you do not get either of these letters, you need to demand one in writing from your caseworker.
At the end of the investigation, ACS will issue findings regarding the allegations of abuse or neglect. The allegations will either be unsubstantiated or indicated. An unsubstantiated report means that the case against you is not supported by the evidence. Thus, ACS will close and dismiss your case.
An indicated report means that ACS believes there’s evidence of the allegations against you. With an indicated report, ACS may do one of the following:
- Refer your case for services, or
- Refer your case to family court.
If you have an indicated report you have 90 days to appeal. Our ACS NYC defense lawyer handles ACS case appeals and has done so for the past 18 years.
After the investigation period is over, ACS may recommend preventative services but these services are voluntary. They may threaten to take you to court if you do not take preventative services. Remember that if they wanted to take you to court, they would’ve done so in the beginning of the case. You do not need to do the preventative services if you already are in services of your own. You also do not have to use the service providers recommended by ACS—in fact, it’s often best not to use a service provider recommended by ACS if you have other resources.
ACS Family Court Process and Emergency Removals
If your case goes to court, it will be much longer than 60 days. It is required that you get served with a petition. If your children were taken from you, you have the right to request a 1028 hearing to get them back. You only get one chance to do this, so it’s best to listen to a knowledgeable Brooklyn ACS defense lawyer as to the timing of this motion. If your children are with you, ACS will supervise you until the termination of the case.
You can settle your case with an ACD (adjourned in contemplation of dismissal) or a 1051(a). With an ACD, your case will be dismissed within a specific time frame, generally six months to a year. If you agree to a 1051A, a dispositional hearing will be held, and the court will order that you take certain services and do certain things. Generally, the supervision on a 1051(a) is also for about a year.
If your child is not with you, ACS will recommend that you take certain services and recommend a visitation schedule with your child. If ACS removes the child from your home, the child will be placed in foster care. ACS is supposed to search for family members or even friends that can take your child prior to placing the child in the home of a stranger. ACS is required to make reasonable efforts to return your children to you.
You also have the right to fight the case at a fact-finding hearing. The standard of proof in a fact-finding hearing is the preponderance of the evidence. It is not like criminal trials which is beyond a reasonable doubt. This distinction is important because the ACS attorney has to prove a lot less to get a finding of abuse or neglect than they would in a criminal proceeding. If you win the fact-finding hearing, your case will be dismissed, and ACS and the court will have no jurisdiction over you. If you lose the fact-finding hearing, the court will hold a dispositional hearing to determine what services you take and the course of contact you will have with your child (if your child is not in your care when you have the fact-finding).
If the court determines that your child will be in danger if placed back in your home, then it will hold permanency hearings until the child is returned every six months.
Hire Our Brooklyn ACS Defense Lawyer Today
If you hire the trusted Brooklyn ACS defense attorney at the Gilmer Law Firm, PLLC, we’ll take the following steps to help you fight your case:
- We will do a full consultation with you and get all of the details of your case. We will look at all of the pertinent information from your files and records regarding your case.
- We will request a copy of your records from ACS.
- We will appeal your case and request that the finding against you be changed to unfounded and that all records pertaining to the report be expunged.
- We will review the records sent to our office from ACS that serve as a basis for their initial determination.
- If we have a legal basis to do so, we will submit a legal brief detailing why the record is insufficient to justify an indicated report.
- If necessary, we will represent you as your attorney at a fair hearing before an Administrative Law Judge at the Office of Children and Family Services and advocate for the dismissal of the case against you and the sealing or expunging of your records.
- If the administrative hearing does not go your way, we will represent you in the filing of Article 78 proceeding to appeal the administrative determination. We have successfully defended parents, professionals, and childcare workers in the past.
- If your case is in court, we will represent you at every court appearance. We will zealously represent you and fight to have your case dismissed.
- If your child was removed, we will do everything in our power to have your child returned to home.
- If you are guilty of neglect, we will make sure that you are treated fairly and maintain focus on the reunification of the family.
For over 20 years, our firm has vigorously defended parents facing abuse or neglect charges in family court. Contact our highly-skilled Brooklyn ACS defense lawyer today.
Related Services and Blogs on Child Protective Issues:
Has ACS accused you of abuse or neglect?
Battle false ACS reports
Get your children back, fight ACS for reunification
Appeal indicated ACS case now!