Facing court over matters related to juvenile dependency is really serious and you need to be fully aware of what you’re involved in. For a case to reach this stage of maturity, it means that Child Protective Services (CPS) have already made an assessment that there has been some kind of abuse or neglect, and they have determined that it is not possible for the child to remain in the household. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are correct in their assessment, but that is the situation as it stands when you’re first summoned to appear in a juvenile dependency case.
As you can see for yourself by checking out the CPS web page, their operational guidelines clearly indicate a strong desire to allow the child to remain in the family home if it is a safe possibility, or otherwise to move the child to a foster placement “located close to the parent’s home”. Therefore when matters have advanced to the point of a juvenile dependency hearing, it means the State is already convinced that there is compelling evidence that it is not in the best interests of the child to remain in the family home.
During the series of hearings that will commence, you will have the opportunity to listen to the allegations that have been made, and you will have an opportunity to contest those allegations if you believe they are false allegations. You will also have an opportunity to respond to the recommended course of action that CPS wants to take with regard to the on-going care of the child, before the judge makes any final decisions.
According to Carlsbad juvenile dependency attorneys Fischer & Van Thiel, it is never a good idea for parents to attempt to deal with these matters on their own. Without qualified legal help, you not only risk the possibility of losing the case, but if you don’t know the correct way to respond, you could end up facing serious criminal charges. This kind of thing can happen-indeed has happened many times-when people are too confident of their ability to prove their innocence.
It’s not just that some response you give or statement you make may be self-incriminating (perhaps not because you are guilty, but that you don’t express your sentiments in the right way, and they get misunderstood). There is also the possibility of being found to be in contempt of court, being accused of perjury, or a whole range of other possible charges that can be brought against you if your emotions get out of control or if you can’t get your story straight.
Understandably, people facing court in these sorts of cases are often experiencing extreme stress and that can make them nervous or overly emotional. It can make it difficult for them to exercise self-control and restraint. Having a lawyer to fight the battle on your behalf means that at least some of the pressure is lifted from you, and that can make all the difference to the outcome.