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Child protective services: When a parent commits a crime

When a parent is involved in a crime, a child protective services investigation may be opened to explore whether the child is safe in the home. CPS investigations are scary for parents, because many don't know what these investigations involve and whether they will lose their children as a result.

If CPS is called to investigate your case, it's important to know what to expect. For instance, you need to know that you won't automatically lose your child as a result of CPS being called.

When can CPS be called on a parent?

Anyone can report a concern to CPS to investigate a parent's situation, and criminal charges can sometimes be a trigger. For instance, if you get a DUI and have minors in your vehicle at the time, a CPS officer might get involved. 

CPS agents want to make sure children are safe and healthy. Doing anything that puts them in danger may launch a CPS investigation. During this investigation, they may ask you to take drug or alcohol tests. You have a right to refuse, but enlisting the help of an attorney before doing so might be wise. CPS sometimes requires drug and alcohol tests before children are returned to their parents.

What if CPS goes too far?

The reality is that CPS has a right to perform an investigation. As long as the personnel act appropriately and within the parameters set by law, there should be no problems.

Your children have a right to remain in a happy, supportive household. Committing a single crime doesn't automatically make you a bad parent. Do your best to avoid a conviction, but even if you get one, know that it doesn't mean that you will lose your parental rights or custody of your children.

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Keith Gore, Lawyer
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