Whenever a child is a victim of a crime or there is a crime that occurs in the home where a child lives, a lot of times the Department of Child Services will get involved in order to protect the children in the home, especially in domestic violence related cases.
Corporal Injury To Child or Dangerous Environment
How that relates to a criminal case is, if it's a crime against a child and that child can no longer live in that home because the child is now subject to possibly some sort of corporal injury or is in danger in some way, then basically, they will be taken into custody – taken into the care of the state – and the dependency court in Monterey Park in Los Angeles – is basically who controls what happens with children.
So, what ends up happening – and I've done a number of the cases there because I've been doing criminal cases for twenty-five years, so I've followed some of the children involved in a case and even the parents, because the parents end up in the Monterey Park court themselves because they obviously have parental rights and in order to assert those rights they need to go into the Monterey Park court, which is the Dependency Court in Los Angeles and assert their rights.
So, in order to do that you're going to want to have an attorney. Everybody is appointed an attorney by the court. County counsel is basically the prosecutor in there. There's a judge or a commissioner and they're going to decide what happens to the children.
They're going to have hearings. The DCSF is going to prepare reports for them and then ultimately, the judge will decide whether the children get to go back home – whether they go into a foster home – whether they are able to stay with some other family member – there's a number of different resolutions that can occur.
Making Incriminating Statements in Dependency Court
But, if you're a defendant in a criminal case, another concern that you should have as it relates to these dependency cases is, a lot of times they want you to do counseling, they want you to make statements.
You can make a statement to a counselor, somebody else associated with a Dependency Court and then that statement can later be used to incriminate you and you could be arrested and they can now use that statement that you gave.
It's not like that statement is protected by an attorney/client privilege or some sort of a doctor/patient or psychiatrist privilege. Those statements are fair game. That's why a lot of times I'm representing people in pre-filing criminal cases who are in the Monterey Park Dependency Court.
So, I either coordinate with their attorney or I help them on the side, or even sometimes I get retained, but I don't do a lot of those cases because that's a whole process onto itself. There's a number of different court appearances. The bottom line is, it's a big time such while these guys try to figure out what they're going to do with the children inside these courts.
Child Abuse, Neglect, or Endangerment
But they are connected to criminal cases because a lot of times people who abuse their kids or are charged with some sort of crime against their kids or neglecting their kids or putting their kids in a horrible situation – those same people end up getting charged with a criminal case.
So, obviously they want to get their kids back, but while they're trying to get their kids back, a lot of times they may make statements that can then be used against them in a criminal court.
That's where I come in to talk to them and advise them – and like I said, I coordinate with their dependency attorney a lot of the times to make sure we're working together for the best interests – not only of the children, but also for the defendant in the case so they keep their parental right intact, and they're also able to defend themselves in their criminal case which is pending in Los Angeles County.
So, if you've got a dependency matter and you're concerned also about criminal charges related to that, come in and sit down with me. I've been retained in a lot of those situations – either pre-filing, before there are any criminal charges filed with the objective so that criminal charges aren't filed, and then also while the dependency case is pending I will be involved in trying to steer your way through there to make sure that you don't do or say anything that incriminates you, gets you arrested and charged with a crime.