Indicated CPS / ACS Fair Hearing

Fair Hearing when Challenging Indicated Child Protective Services FindingsIndicated CPS / ACS

As a professional family lawyer, litigator, and matrimonial attorney, Mr. Darren M. Shapiro Esq. consistently works to ensure that all of his clients get access to a fair hearing if they want it. The right to a fair trial is one of the most crucial and fundamental aspects of law, and it applies to cases both criminal, and civil alike. In order to access a fair trial, it is important for clients to have a fair hearing within the presence of an impartial tribunal, before a certain time period has passed. Across New York, Queens, Nassau County and Suffolk County Long Island, Mr. Shapiro offers his services to clients - on all different types of hearings. One reason why a client may need a fair hearing is if they need to challenge an "indicated" finding by Child Protective services, CPS or the Administration of Children’s Services, ACS.

If the case of an "indicated" finding that Darren Shapiro is helping a client to manage proceeds to the point where a hearing should be scheduled, it means that the caseworker has initially determined that the case was either "indicated" or "founded". In other words, they believe that there is some credible evidence supporting the allegations made regarding child abuse or neglect. When the hearing or initial conference takes place, a hearing officer (or administrative law judge) is present to provide all procedural rulings. Sometimes, the officer chooses to make a general statement before the actual hearing begins - addressing the issues that will be covered. Every party within the hearing will have the opportunity to access representation from a legal professional, if they choose to hire one, such as Mr. Darren Shapiro. Their legal representative can have witnesses give testimony, cross-examine the other side’s witnesses, and submit relevant and material evidence, as well as make appropriate objections.

During these hearings, it is worth noting that the burden of proof lies completely upon the presenting agency - who must prove their allegations by what is called a fair preponderance of evidence. This means that to sustain their burden they have to convince the judge that the allegations are more probably true than not. Simply making conclusory statements will not be enough - there must instead be proof, meaning that the hearing will have a higher burden of proof than the investigation. Fair preponderance of evidence is a higher hurdle than the initial burden to make an indicated finding which is some credible evidence. Crucially, at this point, the appealing party will have the chance to challenge the indicated finding and even if the indicated finding is sustained after the hearing, they then have the chance to challenge whether it is relevant to their employment - meaning that the finding won't be visible in background checks even if the indicated finding stays in place if it is found not to be relevant to employment.

Evidence that is introduced during a fair hearing must be both relevant, and material, and the hearing officer will need to exclude any testimony that he or she deems to be repetitious, or irrelevant evidence. Mr. Darren Shapiro has frequently discovered that in cases such as those challenging "indicated findings", evidence is capable of taking many forms. For example, evidence may come in the form of documentation or proof of injuries that a child may have sustained during periods of neglect or abuse. At the same time, abuse can be shown by writings, photographs, or records made according to a particular occurrence or event by a hospital, or public or private agency. Courts will also consider private statements that are made by children regarding allegations of abuse and neglect as admissible in evidence, and appellants will have the opportunity to supply their own evidence in rebuttal to evidence presented and presumptions made. In other words, now the accused gets to tell their side of the story.

If the "indicated findings" supplied suggest that the child in question may suffer from mental or emotional issues because of the appellants neglect or abuse, then evidence may be delivered in the form of an expert testimony. Such testimony may include information that suggests the impairment was acquired during the time when the child was in the custody of another individual.

Unless the testimony being given is from a child that is too young to understand the meaning of an oath or affirmation, then all testimonies should be given under oath or affirmation. If requested, the copies of any documentary evidence that have been recorded during a hearing should be available to the person launching the appeal within a reasonable timeframe. Although the record of the challenged "indicated findings" will remain confidential - it is possible for either party, or their legal counsel - such as Mr. Shapiro, to examine the record within a reasonable time frame, in a place that is easy to access. This record will include everything from intermediate records, rulings, and notices maintained by the State Central Register, to transcript records of the hearings, matters that have been noticed "officially", proposed findings and exceptions, and reports rendered by the hearing officer. Similarly, the report should contain any questions or offers and proof, rulings thereon, objections thereto, and the overall decision of the hearing.

Hearing decisions that the court does make must be delivered and issued by the commissioner or a specially designated member of staff. The decision should be in writing, and made according to the record of the hearing - describing the issues that are involved in the case in question, and reciting relevant facts, pertinent provisions of the law, and department regulations. Crucially, the decision should state the reasons for such a determination, make appropriate findings, and direct certain actions for parties involved when necessary. If the decision does not go the way of the appellant, then Mr. Shapiro can assist them in bringing the matter to a New York Supreme Court, through a proceeding called an Article 78.

Any hearings that are held according to the social services law 424-a, must have the decision copied so that a copy can be sent to the attorney involved and the appellant. This documentation should be sent within 60 days of the closure of the record, and the same applies for hearings in regards to section 422 - although the time period allowed extends to 90 days.

For more information about fair hearings, family law, and various other legal aspects, feel free to reach out to us. If you are interested in accessing Mr. Shapiro's services yourself, or would like to speak with him about the specifics of your case, then please schedule your half-an-hour consultation for free either in office, or over the phone. Let us know what we can do for you - it would be our pleasure to speak with you.

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