1. How long have you been in business?
The Law Offices of Mark Sherman opened its doors in 2003. Since then we have grown into a team of lawyers dedicated to our clients and helping them in a variety of situations, including DCF matters. To learn more about our team, click here.
2. Can I meet with you even if I can’t come to the office?
You can meet with an experienced attorney without coming into the office. We know that parents have busy schedules and will work with your schedules. We are available to meet over a secure video or conference line if you are unable to come into the office.
3. Can lawyers guarantee results?
While lawyers cannot guarantee a particular result in your case, we can give you sound advice based off of years of experience handling similar matters. Our expertise and experience can give you an idea of what you can expect in your DCF investigation, and we will do everything we can to get DCF out of your lives.
4. Do I need an attorney for a Connecticut DCF Investigation?
Absolutely. DCF has the power to remove your children from your home, interfere with the right for you to reside in your home, interview your children without you being present, and foist unnecessary services and treatment orders on your family. For those reasons-any many more-you need a top Connecticut DCF investigation lawyer to hep you and your family through the investigation and clear your name.
5. Does DCF have the right to come into my home without my permission?
No, but if you deny DCF access to your home, then DCF has the option of taking aggressive temporary custody action like imposing a 96-hour custody hold on your children, filing an Order of Temporary Custody (an "OTC") against your family, or filing a neglect petition against both parents. It's better to avoid these situations and let your Connecticut DCF lawyer try and get your case dismissed before your case gets to this point.
6. Do I have to speak with DCF investigators or do I have the right to remain silent?
You do not have to speak with DCF agents. However, there are consequences for turning them away. The best way to proceed is to just take their name and number, and let them know a Connecticut DCF investigation lawyer will contact them to learn more about the case so they can provide you with the best advice. Do not let DCF investigators pressure or intimidate you into talking to them without any of best Connecticut DCF lawyers by your side.
7. What does Connecticut DCF investigate?
DCF investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect. There are several kinds of abuse and neglect including physical, emotional, educational, and moral. DCF has particular definitions of what constitutes abuse and neglect and through their investigation they will be looking for evidence that supports allegations. To learn more about DCF investigations, follow this link.
8. What is a Connecticut DCF mandated reporter?
A mandated reporter is someone designated by Connecticut statute who must report suspected abuse or neglect or else they themselves will be subject to criminal penalties. Connecticut doctors, nurses, teachers, and police officers are some examples of mandated reporters. They are under penalty of law if they do not report, so oftentimes they will make a report even if there is little to no evidence to support it.
9. Do I have to let investigators into my house?
After an allegation or report is made to DCF, a DCF caseworker will show up at your door to begin their investigation. Oftentimes, this is unannounced and may catch you by surprise. If that happens you can ask DCF to come back at another time after you have had the opportunity to speak to a lawyer.
10. What are the potential outcomes of a DCF investigation?
At the end of a DCF investigation, typically 45 days, they will decide whether to substantiate each allegation. Further, DCF may find that you pose a risk to the health or safety of children and recommend placement on the DCF central registry. DCF also has the power to seek court intervention to impose services and plans on your family during and after their initial investigation.
11. Can I appeal a DCF decision?
Yes. You can appeal both DCF’s decision to substantiate abuse and/or neglect against you, and also its decision to place you on its Central Registry. To learn more about the appeals process, click here.
12. How do I start an appeal?
To start a DCF appeal, you or your lawyer needs to file specific paperwork with the DCF Administrative Hearings Unit within strict time limitations. Once DCF receives the paperwork, it will usually first conduct an internal review of the allegations before assigning it to a DCF attorney for an appeal hearing.
13. Is the appeal like a trial?
In some ways, a DCF appeal is like a trial, where DCF has the burden of proving the allegations by a preponderance of the evidence (which means more likely than not). You can question DCF’s witnesses and call your own witnesses except, in most cases, the alleged child victim. You can use evidentiary exhibits to help defend yourself. However, the rules of evidence are much more relaxed, and DCF can rely on hearsay and evidence that might be inadmissible in court to try to prove its allegations.
14. Can I have a lawyer with me for the appeal?
Yes. Not only are you entitled to hire an attorney to represent you during DCF investigations and appeals, but it’s a good idea to have someone experienced by your side.
15. What is a neglect petition?
A neglect petition is a petition that DCF can file in court against a parent anytime DCF believes a child has been neglected, abused, or generally not cared for by their parent guardian. The court will have a hearing on the neglect petition, and the Judge will decide what needs to occur to ensure the minor is protected. This means the court may order that parents complete services or counseling. The court can even order that a child is removed from their home, depending on the allegations.
16. What court do I go to for neglect petition hearings?
If DCF files a neglect petition against you, the petition will be heard in juvenile court. DCF will file in court closest to your home. Greenwich, Stamford and Norwalk DCF neglect petitions will all be heard in the Stamford Superior Court.
17. Are the hearings open to the public?
No. Like all other juvenile matters, neglect petitions occur in a sealed court room. The only people allowed in the courtroom are court staff, the Judge hearing the matter, DCF, the Attorney General, and the parents or guardians accused of neglect.
18. How can a lawyer help me with a neglect petition?
A lawyer can help by representing you in your neglect petition and advocating on your behalf to DCF and to the court. Often, DCF will try to foist unnecessary services and extended DCF monitoring on parents through court order. An experienced DCF lawyer will be able to fight back so you aren’t ordered to complete services that are unduly burdensome. Your lawyer will also fight to keep your children with you, to avoid any temporary or permanent removal. To learn more about how a lawyer can help in a DCF matter click here.