On November 11, 2012, the Denver Post featured another article on the 72 children who have died in the Colorado child protective services system since 2007 even after the system had been alerted and was to provide protection. The article may be found at http://www.denverpost.com/failedtodeath/ci_21976431/failed-death-system-was-set-up-fail
Unfortunately, the Colorado system often does not work very well. The cases that are brought are commonly called “D&N” cases, which is short for Dependency and Neglect. If you are accused of having a child that is dependent or neglected, you need an attorney to provide legal representation.
The Pearman Law Firm regularly represents parents accused in D&N cases. If you are accused in a D&N case, here is what you can expect:
1. If you do not have sufficient income, the state may appoint an attorney to represent you. If you do have sufficient income, you may have to pay for your own attorney.
2. If you receive a court appointed attorney, you need to decide if this is the right attorney for you. The court appointed attorneys have a contract with the state and receive a set amount of money per month to take a certain number of cases. The court appointed attorneys are sometimes very experienced but are frequently not very aggressive in defending you because they are friends with most of the people in the system and may not be getting paid more money for the extra time and effort you may want them to put into your case.
3. The next big decision you need to make is whether to take a deal to settle the case or whether to go to trial and make the County Attorney, who is bringing the case, prove up their case against you. You should always demand a jury trial and enter a denial until you have had sufficient time to meet with an experienced attorney who will impartially evaluate your case and advise you on what is best for you to do. If you do take the offer from the county attorney, you will make an admission and your child or children will be “adjudicated” as dependent or neglected under the statute. From then on, you and the children are subject to the court’s jurisdiction and will be ordered to follow a treatment plan. You will have the department of social services in your life until they are satisfied that you no longer need their services. You may be subject to all sorts of requirements, such as counseling, anger management, parenting classes, supervised visitation with your children, and drug tests. Your children may be placed in foster care or a group home, a hospital, or other treatment program. If you do not cooperate to the satisfaction of the case workers or the guardian ad litem, you run the risk of losing the children by way of termination of your parental rights.
The most drastic remedy that the government has is to take away your children permanently and to have them adopted into another family. If you are already involved in an ongoing D&N case, and there is talk of terminating your parental rights, you need to consult with an experienced attorney to try to turn things around quickly.
The Denver Post article covers the most horrific of situations. But 72 children dead in five years is inexcusable. If there are children dying, there are also children and parents in the system who are not getting the best possible representation, treatment and services.
Call us at the Pearman Law Firm if you need help in a dependency and neglect (D&N) case. 303-991-7600