New Rights for Suspects in Texas CPS Investigations of Child Neglect or Abuse
One of the many new laws that went into effect in Texas was House Bill 135, which requires suspects of child neglect or abuse to be informed of certain rights. Specifically, such suspects have the right to record investigative interviews conducted by Child Protective Services (CPS), a division of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), as well as to request a review of CPS investigative findings.
What is the significance of this new law? In one-party consent states like Texas, people always have the right to record a conversation they are a party to, though they do not always realize it. The law mandates that CPS interviewers remind suspects of neglect and abuse that they can record any interviews, which might potentially serve as important evidence in their cases.
Recorded Interview Exonerates Texas Mother
HB 135 stems from a 2018 case in which CPS placed a mother’s children in foster care. The woman’s six-month-old son had fallen from a chair and suffered a subdural hematoma. Doctors at the hospital claimed that such a serious brain bleed would not result from a short fall, so they alleged the mother had abused the child.
What CPS failed to include in its investigative reports was that the child was diagnosed with a bleeding disorder that caused him to bleed much easier than normal. This was not in the CPS report, however, and the mother appealed the decision to take her children away based on abuse allegations.
She used recordings she took of CPS interviews to prove the inconsistencies in the CPS investigative findings, and she was able to get her children back and avoid abuse and neglect convictions that might have followed the CPS case.
Informing Suspects of Their Rights
Just like police officers are required to inform a suspect of their Miranda rights upon arrest, CPS investigators must now inform suspect-parents that:
- They can record all interviews
- They can appeal the CPS decision
If parents can hold CPS accountable to report accurate information regarding their cases and conduct, it can help to avoid unnecessary and unwarranted child neglect and abuse charges that might follow in criminal court. Such charges can range from misdemeanors to severe felony charges depending on the allegations, and there is often possible jail time for accused parents. Not only might a parent lose custody of their child, but they also might lose their freedom, as well.
Any parent facing CPS allegations of neglect or abuse should discuss the matter with a criminal defense lawyer, even if no charges are filed yet. It is always a possibility that criminal charges might follow, so you want to prepare with the right legal representation.
A Collin County, TX Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
The law firm of criminal defense lawyer J. Michael Price II represents clients facing a wide range of criminal charges, including child abuse or neglect. Contact us for more information about our services today.