Most people know what the DCFS is in Utah. DCFS, acronym for the Department of Child and Family Services, is entrusted by the Utah Legislature to investigate child neglect and abuse allegations. The DCFS is not a law enforcement agency, but its investigations can have criminal consequences.
Child Abuse Investigations
Child abuse allegations get DCFS and law enforcement involved. What happens in many cases, however, is that the DCFS will get a referral and investigate it. Its investigation can often reveal evidence of severe child abuse. If such evidence is discovered, DCFS will report it to law enforcement, who will then conduct their own independent investigation.
How Should You Respond to Such Investigations
Whether the investigation is being conducted by DCFS or law enforcement you have no obligation to cooperate with either investigation. DCFS agents leave their cards in the doors of those they’re investigating. You do not have to call back the agent. You do not have to answer the door if they visit your home. If you answer the door you do not have to invite them into your home. You do not have to talk to them. You do not have to give them any information. Likewise, if the police begin to investigate you for child abuse you have no obligation to cooperate with them either.
Two Court Cases
If DCFS and law enforcement find that there is enough evidence against you, you could be facing two different types of court cases: a criminal case in district court and an abuse/neglect case in juvenile court. A criminal case may carry with it jail or prison time, fines, and other penalties. The juvenile court case may result in a “substantiated” finding which can result in you being placed in a licensing database that would notify government agencies that you cannot be a foster parent or adopt.
If DCFS is investigating you in Northern Utah, your best bet is to call our criminal defense attorneys for protection and let us take over. Talking to either DCFS or law enforcement is not likely to give you a good result.