Your young child is injured. She rolled off the bed, she was accidentally burned in a bathtub, or perhaps a curtain rod fell on her arm. You do what any concerned parent would do, and immediately take your child to the doctor. At first the medical staff starts asking questions about what happened. You are giving them every piece of information that comes to mind because your only priority is getting your child the best medical care possible. At some point, however, different medical staff enters the room, and you notice that the tone of the questions starts to change. The questions no longer seem geared toward helping your child. They are now taking on a more accusatory tone. Then a representative from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, sometimes referred to as Children's Protective Services (“CPS”), enters the room. What do you do?
This scenario happens with alarming frequency. It is important to remember that CPS is not your friend in this situation. Everyone agrees that protecting children is an important and noble objective. While many CPS employees work tirelessly to achieve this goal, there are many whose work is sloppy, vindictive, and sometimes dishonest. Some CPS workers have been known to advocate for criminal charges even when there is no evidence that the parent did anything wrong. Indeed, a Harris County judge recently handed CPS a $127,000 fine and ordered additional training for CPS employees because of their conduct.
Anything that you say to a CPS worker can be used in a criminal case against you. It is common for parents to be charged with a felony based on how their words were distorted by CPS workers. Parents face a dilemma when questioned by CPS: they want to do anything to help their child, but they also do not want their words twisted in a way that could lead to criminal charges. A parent who faces criminal charges for injuring his or her child not only faces prison time, but also faces the possibility of losing his or her child. Simply put, you need to talk to a lawyer experienced in these investigations to help navigate these treacherous waters.
If you find yourself in this position, call us immediately. Ed McClees is a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist. He has extensive experience defending parents in criminal investigations involving CPS. Ed regularly works together with a network of lawyers outside of the McClees Law Firm who are Board Certified in Child Welfare Law and Family Law to protect families from overzealous CPS workers and prosecutors.