A finding in an investigation by the Department of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) can fundamentally change every aspect of your family’s future. Either of these designations means that the DCPP has found enough evidence to undertake further legal proceedings against you based on an allegation of child abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, the outcome of these proceedings could determine whether you are able to participate in your child’s life moving forward.
Parents and guardians do have access to an appeals process where they can formally contest the DCPP’s interpretation of available evidence. However, representation from a dedicated attorney is often crucial to making the most out of DCPP appeals in Hackensack and effectively protecting your best interests.
If the DCPP has made a “substantiated” or “established” conclusion in an investigation into suspected child abuse or neglect, the parents or guardians may appeal the finding by requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). To do so, the defendant must submit their request to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) within 20 days of written notice regarding the finding, and they must include in that request information their personal contact details, their DCPP investigation number, and their case ID number.
The OAL generally sends two letters to the defendant in response to such a petition. The first details what protocols will apply to a subsequent hearing, and the second provides a scheduled location, date, and time for a pre-hearing meeting between the defendants, the ALJ, and the Deputy Attorney General representing the state. During this meeting, the ALJ establishes rules for any exchange of evidence between the involved parties and sets a date for the formal appellate hearing.
At the hearing, both sides may present evidence and cross-examine each other’s cases, with equal time provided for each side. If the ALJ’s report based on this testimony is unfavorable to the defendants, they have 45 days to forward their appeal to the Superior Court of New Jersey’s Appellate Division.
If the DCPP successfully seeks and receives a court Judgement of Guardianship Terminating Parental Rights based on an investigation, the process of reversing—or “vacating”—that order is fairly complex. The measure is used to put forward an argument that the court made an error in its decision, based its decision on fraudulent information, or did not have access to new exculpatory evidence when it made its decision.
These grounds are established under New Jersey Court Rule §4:50-1, and defendants have 21 days at most after the issuance of the order to formally appeal it in this way. Assistance from experienced legal counsel is virtually essential, not only to improve a defendant’s odds of a successful resolution but also to get the technically-focused appeal off the ground in the first place.
Regardless of what stage DCPP proceedings have reached, formally appealing the actions this agency has taken against you is a complicated endeavor. Without guidance from a qualified legal representative, you may have slim chances of overturning the Department’s conclusion and preventing further repercussions for yourself and your family.
A knowledgeable lawyer could discuss options for DCPP appeals in Hackensack with you during a private consultation. Schedule yours by calling today.