Appeal of Child Abuse Finding Filed and Won by Our Lawyers
Client Accused of Abuse, Neglect and Court Finding Appealed
Office of Administrative Law Appeal Filed and Won by Our Law Firm
In this case, we filed an administrative appeal challenging a finding of child abuse and neglect and won. Here is what happened.
D.H., called our office is desperate need of help. She was a resource parent, caring for five children, and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCP&P) determined she neglected a child. In this case, D.H. permitted a sleep over at her home, which is not uncommon for adolescent children. The child that sleep over was friends with one of her children and requested to spend the night so they could continue playing. Both parents discussed the sleep over and both parents agreed it would be fun for the children. The next day, the child was picked up by his parent and the day after that, went to day care. Sadly, the day care facility observed several bruises and contacted the Department of Children and Family Services.
The Department contacted an investigation and took action against the parent of the child who suffered the reported injuries. On top of that, the Department went a step further and prosecuted D.H. The Department insisted that D.H. knew or should have known that the child was coming from an abusive home and she should have contacted the proper authorities. In light of the Department’s finding, D.H. had a record for child neglect and lost her license to serve as a resource parent. Consequently, she contacted our firm and we immediately filed for an appeal and demanded a hearing.
In New Jersey, an administrative appeal like this must be filed within 20 days from receiving the Department’s findings. Parents will be notified of the finding by way of a letter in the mail. The appeal was filed with the Office of Administrative Law in Trenton and the hearing was held in Newark, NJ
Over the course of several days, the firm vigorously cross-examined the Department’s witnesses. During the first day of the hearing, the Department called two “expert” witnesses who claimed that the bruises were undoubtedly caused by abuse. Nevertheless, we highlighted to the Judge that based upon the injuries themselves, the child’s responses to the doctor’s questions, and the fact that the evaluation occurred close to a week later, it is unlikely that the experts could determine the source of the injury or what day the child was injured. It could have simply been the result of falling down while playing and could have occurred after the child left our client’s care. Moreover, and most importantly for our client, the experts could not give any testimony that showed how D.H. could have known herself what or who caused the injuries.
During the second day of the hearing, the Department called their caseworkers and a representative from the day care facility. Each provided testimony that the child sustained injuries but again, no witness could show how D.H. could have known the source of the injuries and no witness could establish when the injuries occurred.
Administrative Appeal Filed and Won in Trenton, Newark NJ
Consequently, the Judge ruled in our favor and D.H. was able to regain her license to serve as a resource parent so she could safety provide care and support for children. The appeal was successful and a fantastic victory for our clients and attorneys. Contact our office now for the best strategy in handling your DCP&P case.