Welcome back and thanks for joining us for the next installment of this discussion about what happens when CPS tries to take your kids away. As we’ve explained so far in parts 1 and 2 of this series, after CPS files the petition with the family court, there will be a hearing to determine if there’s enough evidence against you to warrant taking your children away. If there isn’t, then they stay with you. If the Judge decides there is, then they’ll be placed in the foster care system.
If your kids are taken from you, there’ll be a trial
If you chose not to enter a plea, or the Judge decided not to dismiss the allegations against you, then the next step in the process is a trial. This can be held in front of a jury, or it can be held in front of a Judge or referee. You’ll have a chance to request a trial by jury if you want one for a limited time. We recommend that before you make any important decisions about your case, you talk to your attorney.
What is the purpose of the trial?
The trial is held so that the Judge (or jury) can decide whether or not the allegations against you are true. For CPS to prove that you’re guilty of the accusations of abuse or neglect they’ve made, they’re required to use ‘a preponderance of the evidence’ as the standard of proof. This means the state is obligated to prove that ‘it’s more likely than not’ that your child was abused or neglected by you.
The standard of proof in CPS trials can be confusing!
The standard of proof in a CPS trial isn’t the same standard of proof required in a criminal trial. In a criminal trial, the prosecution has to prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that the accused is guilty. However the standard of proof used in family court is actually lower, and so it’s easier for CPS to “prove” their accusations. The only exception is if they’re trying to terminate your parental rights – then the standard of proof is higher.
What happens if the allegations are dismissed?
Technically only criminal charges are ‘dismissed’, while CPS allegations are found to be ‘unsubstantiated.’ However, there are lots of other similarities between CPS and criminal trials. For example, both CPS and the defense attorney of the accused will present evidence and witnesses to support their claims. If the Judge or jury decides that the claims are unsubstantiated, your child will be returned to you (assuming they’d been removed by CPS), your name will be removed from the Central Registry, and the petition against you will be dismissed. But what happens if they’re substantiated?
Fighting CPS is a major endeavor, and you’ll need expert help!
If your children are removed from your custody by Michigan CPS, you’re going to need expert CPS defense help. Join us next time to take a look at what happens when the allegations are substantiated during the trial. Until then, if you or a loved one have been accused of abuse or neglect by CPS, contact our office immediately at 866 766 5245. Our experienced CPS defense attorneys have been defending the families of mid-Michigan against CPS bullying for decades, and we can help you too!