Illinois DCFS Child Abuse and Neglect Claims Can Upend Your Family
No parent ever wants or expects to be contacted by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and told that they are being investigated for child abuse or neglect. That they, their children, and other relevant parties will need to submit to interviews. That their home may need to be visited. That the law could require them to notify law enforcement officials, who may end up doing their own separate investigation.
And in the end, their children could be taken away.
When they hear this information, some people explode in anger. Others become terrified. Some think it must be a joke. Some go into shock. Some just keep asking questions, unable to make sense of the situation or really understand what is going on or why this is happening.
In his years of helping families deal with DCFS investigations, The Law Office of Andrew Weisberg has dealt with parents at pretty much every point on the emotional spectrum. Mr. Weisberg understands just how surreal it can be to have DFCS investigators poking and prodding around your life and calling everything into question. You may feel unmoored. Like you have no control and things are spinning out.
It does not have to be this way though. Mr. Weisberg knows how to walk you through the process and make sure you put your best foot forward with DCFS. Quite simply, he works to give your family the best possible chance at a positive outcome.
Why More Families Turn to Illinois Criminal Attorney Andrew Weisberg for Help with DCFS Cases
When you are being investigated by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, it is not the same as a criminal charge. However, the end result can be just as serious, with your rights as a parent severely curtailed and your family potentially separated.
As such, it can involve many volatile emotions that can cloud your judgment and exacerbate an already trying and confusing process.
In some cases, there is even the possibility that the investigation will lead to criminal charges. This would mean a separate police investigation and an entirely new set of rules and procedures you will have to deal with.
These things make your choice of lawyer incredibly important. What qualities should you look for?
In-depth knowledge. When dealing with the DCFS, obviously it is important to have someone on your side with a strong knowledge of how DCFS cases work. Someone who can help guide you through the process and make sure you do not make a misstep.
However, since there is also the possibility that a DCFS case might turn into a criminal investigation, you also want someone with a track record of success defending people against criminal charges of neglect and child abuse.
Mr. Weisberg fills both roles and will be able to advise you on what to say and do that both gives you the best chance at keeping your family together and helps you to avoid criminal prosecution. In the event that you are charged, he will do everything in his power to protect your rights and fight back against those charges.
An understanding of both sides. Before Andrew Weisberg became a defense lawyer, he worked as a Cook Country prosecutor, crafting arguments designed to prove guilt and get people convicted. This means that he understands how the other side thinks. He knows what prosecutors look for and how they build their cases.
Because of this, it gives him a unique insight into how to cast doubt on their assertions and call evidence into question. This provides his clients with a huge advantage in criminal proceedings, but it can also be valuable in dealing with the DCFS investigators.
How so? Just like with prosecutors, their job is to seek out evidence. They want to put together a picture of your child’s family life, so they can determine if any abuse or neglect occurred. Knowing the signs that they look for can help you to put your best foot forward.
Empathetic and communicative. When you are going through emotional turmoil, you need someone willing to lend an ear and guide you by the hand through the gauntlet of a DCFS investigation. Someone who will not judge you or try to rush you as you attempt to process your situation and how best to deal with it.
You also need an individual who can break things down for you in an incredibly clear way so you understand exactly what is happening every step of the way, what your options are, and possible outcomes.
Andrew Weisberg always does his utmost to make himself available to clients and interact with them on a human level. He wholeheartedly believes that every single person is entitled to the strongest defense possible.
How DCFS Cases Work in Illinois
One of the first questions most of Mr. Weisberg’s clients tend to ask him is, “What is going to happen next?”
It is understandable. Unlike criminal cases, which have been heavily featured in movies and TV shows, most people do not really know how DCFS cases work.
Because of this, it is important to break down the basics of how DCFS cases in Illinois work.
- Someone calls DCFS.
The state of Illinois is legally required to maintain a 24/7 child abuse hotline where people can call in and report suspected cases of abuse. Anyone is able to call in, but people in some professional capacities are actually legally required to report suspected abuse, including doctors, teachers, social workers, and childcare center staff.
- An investigation is opened. By law, an investigative specialist must open an investigation within 24 hours of the initial report. This could mean making contact with the child or parents, or in some cases, the investigator might attempt to view the child’s living environment before making contact to help determine its suitability.
- The investigation occurs. This can involve a number of things. Typically, everyone allegedly involved in the incident and in the care of the child will be interviewed, including other children who come into contact with the adult or adults being investigated.
If there is believed to be some potential danger but it can be alleviated, the investigator may work with you to create a Safety Plan that enables the child to stay in the home or to locate and secure housing. If, however, the investigator believes that there is an immediate risk to the child, he or she is legally allowed to take them into temporary protective custody. In these cases, a hearing must happen before a judge within 48 hours.
Under the law, all DCFS investigations must be completed within 60 days. Most last no longer than 30 days. In some circumstances, however, the department may ask for an extension on the 60-day requirement.
If the allegation is serious enough (for example, an accusation of sexual abuse or serious physical harm), the DCFS investigator is legally required to notify both the local State’s Attorney and the police, which may result in either a joint or entirely separate investigation.
- A decision is reached. There are two possible outcomes for an Illinois DFCS investigation. It will be deemed “unfounded” or “indicated.”
Unfounded basically means that the investigator was unable to find enough information to back up the original allegation. Indicated means that the evidence supports abuse or neglect having taken place.
You will be notified of the decision in writing by the department, and the investigator will also contact you in person to go over the results.
- You can appeal the decision. If you are unhappy with the investigator’s decision, you can request an administrative appeal hearing. At this hearing, both the indicated perpetrator and the department are allowed to present evidence to an administrative law judge, who will then make a recommendation to the director of the DCFS.
This is the part of the process where having a knowledgeable attorney on your side truly helps.
Reach Out to Chicago Defense Lawyer Andrew Weisberg Now If You’re Facing Child Abuse or Neglect Allegations
The bottom line is that when your family and children are on the line, you always want to make sure you have the best possible advocate on your side. Andrew Weisberg can help, but only if you get in touch – and the sooner you do, the better.
Whether you are only dealing with a DCFS investigator or the police are involved as well, you need to understand how the process works and what you should do to protect yourself and your children.
To start fighting for your family’s future today, all you have to do is fill out our easy online case review form, call 773-908-9811, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.