Forked River Police Reportedly Find Five-Year-Old Child in Car with Heroin, Needles
On December 25, 2016, Forked River police officers arrested a 24-year-old Lanoka Harbor woman, a 24-year-old Forked River woman, and a 24-year-old Forked River man following a motor vehicle stop in which police allegedly found 17 bags of heroin and multiple hypodermic syringes.
A five-year-old child was also in the car, reportedly under the care of one of the adult suspects. Accordingly, the incident resulted in drug possession charges and criminal child endangerment charges.
Fortunately, family members were able pick up the child passenger, so the NJ Division of Child Protection and Permanency (“DCP&P”) did not need to intervene and take custody of the child. Although the child in this case was released to family members, DCP&P may still conduct an investigation as to whether the child was abused or neglected as a result of the incident. This will depend in large part on whether Forked River police contacted 1-877-NJ-ABUSE and generated a child abuse referral. The available information in the case does not specify whether police did in fact contact DCP&P. However, New Jersey’s child abuse and neglect law requires “any person having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to child abuse or acts of child abuse shall report the same immediately to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency by telephone or otherwise.” N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10. Thus, because child endangerment charges were issued in this case, it is likely that the police contacted DCP&P as a result of the incident.
If DCP&P received a referral from the police in this case, the Division is required by law to initiate an investigation and interview the child and the child’s caretaker to determine whether the child was abused or neglected pursuant to the child abuse and neglect laws under Title 9, as opposed to the criminal code. In other words: although the police have issued criminal child endangerment charges, DCP&P remains obligated to conduct a separate and independent investigation.
If you or a loved one is being investigated by DCP&P, or if you have reason to believe that a DYFS investigation into your family is imminent, you will be required to cooperate – but only to a certain extent. And keep in mind that you don’t have to face the investigation on your own. The DCP&P defense lawyers at the Tormey Law Firm are available to explain all aspects of New Jersey’s child abuse and neglect laws and represent you during the investigation to ensure that DCP&P is not overstepping any boundaries during the investigation.