You Need an Attorney Immediately
The Court will have a protective custody hearing within three (3) days of your child(ren) being taken into state custody. Ideally, if you are able to hire an attorney, you should do so prior to the protective custody hearing. If you are not able to hire an attorney due to your financial circumstances, you should request an attorney be appointed to you at the protective custody hearing. It is very important that you have an attorney in your juvenile case, as your attorney will know the law in Missouri and may be able to assist you in having your child(ren) returned to you quicker.
Be Careful What You Say and Do
From the very beginning of your juvenile case, when DFS is at your home taking your child(ren) from you, while at family support team meetings, and while at hearings, everything that you say or do will be written down and placed into a court update, which will be filed with the Court. This is why it is so important that you be very careful what you say and admit to DFS, the police, the juvenile office and to the Court. Your statements and admissions will be used against you later.
Should You Take a Drug Test?
You should be absolutely sure prior to taking any drug testing that your test results will come back clean. If you volunteer to take drug testing and your results come back dirty for drugs or alcohol this will be used against you as a reason to keep your child(ren) from you.
Should You Request a Change of Judge?
You should be aware that in Missouri you may have only five (5) days from the date of your Protective Custody Hearing in abuse/neglect juvenile cases to request a change of judge. This is a very short period of time! Which judge is appointed to your case may be the most important consideration in your case. If you wish to change the judge in your case, you should request the change prior to your protective custody hearing in writing. If you do not know whether you should change the judge in your juvenile case, you should consult with a local attorney prior to your protective custody hearing.