mother hugging child in a living room acs cases

Fight Back Against ACS Investigations – Hire a Trusted Brooklyn ACS Defense Lawyer Today

Your children are the most important thing in your life. So, 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 professionals, an indicated report can damage your reputation, cause possible employment loss 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.

Understanding CPS Investigations 

The Child Protective Services Act governs child protective services in New York. Its purpose is to protect children. The CPS investigates allegations of child abuse or child neglect. ACS is the CPS agency that operates in New York City, including Brooklyn.

What Is Child Abuse and Child Neglect?

Child abuse occurs when someone causes a child to be seriously injured. This includes actions such as beating, kicking, and shaking. It also includes sexual abuse of the child.

Child neglect refers to a parent or guardian’s lack of care for the child. This includes failure to provide the child with the following:

  • Food,
  • Clothes,
  • Shelter,
  • Education,
  • Medical needs, and
  • Supervision.

Child neglect can also include subjecting the child to violence, fear, verbal terror, or extreme corporal punishment.

A child is defined as someone under 18 years old. 

How Does an ACS Investigation Start?

An investigation begins with a notification of child abuse or neglect. Notifiers can call the number on the New York government website to report their suspected child abuse claim.

Notifications can come from two types of people: (1) those who are legally required to report suspected child abuse or neglect and (2) family members or acquaintances who suspect abuse. 

People required by law to report include persons such as:

  • School personnel,
  • Medical personnel,
  • Social service personnel, and
  • Law enforcement personnel.

These people are required to report their suspicions because they are in positions of authority over the children. Or they are in positions where they owe a duty to protect the children. Once these individuals notify the ACS of the alleged abuse, they must also file a written report within two days of the initial oral notification.

Notifications can also come from family members and other acquaintances, such as neighbors. However, the law does not require these individuals to report suspected cases. 

What Happens After a Report Is Made?

The Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (SCR) is the intake center for abuse or neglect allegations. The SCR receives calls 24/7. The calls are then forwarded to local CPS offices for investigation.

ACS will act quickly because child abuse and child neglect are high-priority cases. After the first notification of suspected child abuse or neglect, ACS will contact the person who reported the allegation. This will usually take place within 24 hours. Its purpose is to get a clearer picture of the allegation.

 Keep in mind that anyone can initiate an investigation by notifying the ACS. This may include people who file a false report of abuse or neglect because they are upset or dissatisfied with you for some reason.

This can put you in a very difficult position. Know that it is against the law in New York to falsely report a child abuse allegation. A Brooklyn CPS investigation lawyer can review your case and determine if the allegation was falsified. If so, a lawyer can help defend you and restore your reputation.

ACS will visit your home within two days of the first notification. It will be unannounced. 

The ACS Investigation Process

The ACS investigation process can be a scary and overwhelming experience for parents. It usually starts with a surprise visit from an ACS worker, often accompanied by a police officer, who demands to see the children and may not even show proper identification or disclose the charges against the parent. This can leave parents feeling confused and powerless.

Parents need to know their rights and have legal representation during the investigation. If ACS finds evidence of abuse or neglect, they may remove the child from the home and place them in foster care. This can be traumatic for both the child and the parent, and it’s important to work with an attorney to achieve the best outcome for the family.

Facing an ACS investigation can be a daunting experience. Our experienced Brooklyn ACS defense lawyers can help protect your rights and defend your family against wrongful accusations. Contact us today and take the first step toward protecting your family’s future.

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 at 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?

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 get a court order to get in. The reasoning behind this is that a judge may determine that the facts and circumstances are insufficient enough to prove that the children are in any danger and refuse to issue a court order.

A Brooklyn CPS investigation lawyer will be able to guide you on which strategy is the most advantageous to your case.

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, it 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 are 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.

ACS Findings

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 take 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:

  1. 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.
  2. We will request a copy of your records from ACS.
  3. 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.
  4. We will review the records sent to our office from ACS that serve as a basis for their initial determination.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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. 
  8. 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.
  9. If your child was removed, we will do everything in our power to have your child returned home.
  10. If you are guilty of neglect, we will make sure that you are treated fairly and maintain focus on the reunification of the family.

Seeking a Brooklyn CPS Case Attorney

Having Child Protective Services investigate you and your family is terrifying. These cases can be complex and very involved.

Never speak to CPS alone. You need a competent and fearless Brooklyn CPS case lawyer to represent you.

At Gilmer Law Firm, PLLC, you will be able to speak to an experienced CPS Brooklyn case attorney.

For over 20 years, our firm has vigorously defended parents facing abuse or neglect charges in family court. If you are facing ACS investigations or court proceedings in family court, you need an experienced Brooklyn ACS defense lawyer on your side. Our knowledgeable family attorneys can help you navigate the legal system and protect your family’s rights.  We have a vast variety of resources at our disposal to handle your case. Contact our highly-skilled Brooklyn ACS defense lawyer at Gilmer Law Firm, PLLC 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!