When parents are accused of child abuse, they often find themselves facing one, two, or even three separate cases in court. It is common for CPS to file a petition seeking to terminate or restrict parental rights, it is common for prosecutors to file criminal charges, and it is common for the other parent to use the accusation as a means of gaining custody.
“Discovery Rules” Can Be Used to Your Advantage
All litigation involves a set of rules that determine how much information and what type of information should be made available to parties involved. In a lawsuit, the process of obtaining information is called “discovery.” It is important to have an attorney who understands different discovery rules that attach to each type of litigation. Sometimes, there are rules of discovery in a Neglect Petition case that can yield substantial and important information to be used in defending the criminal case. The same can be said of a custody case.
Courts Don’t Always get it Right
Within the last week a case was successfully appealed when a family court judge ordered the attorneys in the neglect petition to not share information with the criminal defense attorneys representing the same clients. The name of that case was In re: Sean M. Fortunately, the appeals court ruled that the family court ruling violated the parents First and Sixth Amendment rights. The family court ruling was absurd. Can you imagine having important information from your parental rights case that you could not share with your criminal defense attorney? As crazy as this case was, it illustrates some important points that parent defense attorneys have to deal with on a daily basis throughout the country. And Michigan is certainly no exception.
- Parents are not always treated fairly when they are accused of neglect or abuse.
- Not all judges excel at understanding your Constitutional rights.
- Parent defense attorneys need to understand how to obtain necessary information so that they can present the best defense possible at trial.
Michigan Parent Defense Attorney
In Michigan, the defense attorney has broad access to documents and evidence in a Neglect Petition case. However, depositions are not allowed without the permission of the court. Depositions can be extremely important, but they have not been an option for very many years and some judges still resist allowing them. There are states where the rules are much more liberal and therefore much more fair to parents (Wisconsin and Florida are good examples.)
It is rarely best practice to rely on CPS to provide information on which to build a defense. Yet, that is exactly what happens in many cases. The harsh reality is that the quality of parent representation in Michigan is somewhat lacking. Parents need to work with a proactive attorney to assure that they arrive in court prepared to put forward the best defense.
Helping Parents Defend False Allegations
At Cronkright Law, we have experience defending parents against false allegation of child abuse in criminal matters, neglect petitions and family law matters. We offer free case assessments to clients. If we can be of service to your family, please call.