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Do I need a lawyer? What are my rights with dyfs in NJ?

Red Bank, NJ |

Someone placed a call to dyfs and told them I was a drug addict. I am not an addict on the contrary I work in a pharmacy and have to pass a drug test every so often. The dyfs worker came out and interviewed everyone in my family and decided the case was unfounded. Hurricane sandy then came and put everything on hold for a while. I received a call today that they need to come out and reevaluate and reinterview everyone in my house/family again. I think this is ridiculous seeing as the accusations were unfounded and they were going to close my case but now want to keep it open. I just want to know what my rights are and I want to press charges against whoever called on me. Please help.

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Attorney answers 4


I handle many DYFS (DCP&P) cases, and here are my thoughts: If you have nothing to hide, let DYFS come out again. They quickest way to get DYFS out of your hair is to cooperate. If you get another finding that abuse and neglect was unfounded, then no harm no foul. You won't need a lawyer. If, on the other hand, you are substantiated for abuse or neglect, get a lawyer experienced in DYFS cases immediately, because you have 20 days to file for an administrative appeal and to request discovery. You cannot press charges against the reporter for merely reporting you to DYFS. The reporter's identity is kept secret, and the general policy of the state is to encourage people to report child abuse.

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You are best advised to cooperate with DYFS. If there are no problems they will acknowledge same and get out of your lives. I think a suit against them will be expensive and unproductive. I would rather move on with my life.

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Unfortunately, these cases happen all the time where someone makes unfounded allegations for malicious reasons or as part of a custody fight or just for revenge. I am not sure why they want to keep the case open. If they did a drug test, I see no reason why they would ask for anything more from you, but if you don't agree, they may go to court and ask for an order to investigate to get the court to order. I would suggest contacting a lawyer in this field, but as to pressing charges that will likely go nowhere since the referrals are confidential. Now I have had occasions arise where someone tells the aggrieved parent that they are behind the calls, and if they surrender their confidential statuts, and you can prove in court that they are making frivilous or false complaints you may have either a civil action or a criminal complaint fo rmaking false reports, which is a disorderly persons offense.

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Unfortunately, in NJ, "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 Youth and Family Services by telephone or otherwise." This is contained within NJSA 9:6-8.10. Also, DYFS has an obligation to investigate all referrals that are received by their organization. This requirement is contained within NJSA 9:6-8.18. This makes the likelihood of pursuing whoever called the allegation in very slim.

If the accusations are baseless, then the investigation will be concluded relatively quickly. Be compliant with DYFS and make sure that the allegations are determined to be unfounded. Also, if you ever deal with DYFS in the future, make sure that this allegation is not used against you, as unfounded allegations should have no value in future investigations.

This answer is given for informational purposes only and does not create any attorney-client relationship. The answer given is based solely on the information provided and does not purport to be comprehensive legal advice.

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