Hosting a Memorial Day Weekend Party – Know Your Legal Responsibilities

Planning on hosting a party this Memorial Day weekend? If you are going to be a host, remember that serving alcohol to your guests can pose inherent safety risks as well as criminal liability.

Some of the highest incidents of DWI occur between the weekends of Memorial Day and Labor Day. There are several things you can do as a host and guest to prevent you and loved ones from getting a DWI or causing an accident that injures someone else.

  • Plan ahead. Choose a designated driver or call a taxi cab. Uber is another great and convenient option to avoid driving.
  • Limit your number of drinks. Everyone processes alcohol differently and heat and dehydration may cause you to drink faster. Remember that even if you are “buzzed” you can still be charged with DWI.
  • If you are a party guest or host and notice someone who has had too much to drink, you are in the crucial position of making sure they get home safely.

If you are serving alcohol, you have even more responsibility. Even if you didn’t know your guest was under 21, you may be subject to criminal prosecution for serving alcohol to a minor.

The best advice is to use common sense and don’t let your party guests get out of control. If your best-laid plans fail to keep you out of trouble and you end up getting arrested this weekend, the single best thing you can do to protect yourself, your rights and your interests moving forward is to contact a Collin County defense lawyer.

What Happens When CPS is Called?

This blog entry is intended to describe what steps CPS makes after a typical report of abuse or neglect is made. It is extremely important to hire an attorney that has experience dealing with child abuse investigations before meeting with CPS. An attorney will have knowledge to help guide you through this confusing and difficult time. Each person’s situation is different, but do not take your chances telling your side of the story without working with an attorney.

When CPS receives a tip, it must first determine whether or not an investigation is needed. While a caller does not have to be certain or have proof of abuse or neglect, reasonable suspicion is required. Before CPS registers a report and starts an investigation, it must consider:

  • Identity and Location – Can CPS identify and locate the child and family being reported?
  • Age of Child – Is the child able to protect itself from the alleged risk?
  • Jurisdiction – Does CPS have jurisdiction?
  • Person Legally Responsible – Is the abuser a parent, legal guardian, foster care provider or other adult responsible for the child’s care?
  • Allegations – Does the alleged conduct constitute abuse? If CPS determines that the alleged conduct is not abuse, then there probably won’t be any investigation.

If CPS determines that there may be abuse or neglect, a report will be registered, and CPS will begin an investigation. CPS will probably also make a report to the police who may conduct their own investigation.

The Investigation
CPS will want to conduct the initial interview with the alleged victim within 24 hours of a report. In this phase, CPS may take the following steps:

  • Interviews – The caseworker will either call or visit your home to interview you, the alleged perpetrator, the child or other members of the family or household. The caseworker will want to interview your child alone, and the caseworker IS NOT required to record the interview.
  • Examinations – The caseworker may request/inquire about medical or psychological examinations of your child to determine if abuse or neglect has occurred.
  • Drug Tests – Caseworkers routinely carry drug tests with them and will request you to take a test. More than likely, they will give you an oral swab test. These tests are not as reliable as normal drug tests done at any lab. Without a court order, CPS cannot force you to take any test.

Sometimes a caseworker will show up with law enforcement to try to gain leverage or to intimidate you. CPS has no authority to enter your home without a Court order. Caseworkers have threatened removal or warrants for arrests if they are not allowed in the home or not allowed to see the child. Sometimes, caseworkers will interview the child at school prior to you finding out about any allegations against you.

Possible Outcomes
If the caseworker determines that there is no evidence of abuse or neglect, the case is closed and the records are usually sealed. If the caseworker determines that there is evidence of abuse or a risk of abuse, CPS may:

  • Create a Service Plan: In most cases, CPS will try to work with the family to protect the interests of the child. CPS offers many services including psychiatric counseling, group therapy, parent support services and more.
  • Remove the Child: If CPS determines that there are no reasonable efforts that can keep your child safe in your home, CPS will get a court order and take custody of your child. If CPS determines that your child is in immediate danger, CPS may remove your child before getting a court order. When this happens, the court will review your case the next working day to determine if the removal was necessary and proper.

It is important to remember that caseworkers and investigators of CPS are not bound by the constitutional protections as found in dealing with regular law enforcement. It is best to treat the CPS worker as law enforcement and you need to be mindful of your actions during an investigation. I advise all my clients to record every encounter you have with CPS or law enforcement. You have the right to record any conversation. You can also conceal the recorder whether it is a separate device or your smart phone.

Caseworkers will try to intimidate you into signing a service plan or agree to place the children with a relative or friend. You should speak with an attorney before you take any steps. Service plans are not Court orders and have no special legal significance. Service plans are merely contracts with a temporary agreement between the CPS and the parents.

When choosing an attorney to help you with CPS, you need someone who is familiar with the laws, policies and procedures involved in these cases. You need to select an attorney who you can trust to guide you through the process.

I have represented parents, children and family members in CPS cases. I know how the CPS system works, and will give you an honest assessment of your case. Call me today to make an appointment for a consultation – 972-369-0577. Contacting an attorney early in the process can help you formulate the best strategy for approaching your CPS case.

Why Hire an Attorney with Criminal and Family Law Experience?

Sometimes when a person is arrested and charged with a crime a situation arises where there is a family dispute or separation with their spouse and children. This is a difficult situation for anyone. It is imperative you hire an attorney that has experience in both criminal defense and family law or CPS cases.

There are several reasons why hiring an attorney with experience in both criminal and family law is in your best interest.

1. Knowledge of the Procedure and the Law in Both Types of Cases
It is rare that a person’s criminal charge and family case are in the same court. The cases will have different deadlines and timelines. It is very important that whatever defense you have is not contradicted or affected in the way you address the other court. The witnesses will be under different rules in the various types of cases and will be allowed to testify to different issues which may be important in future hearings.

In a criminal case, you as the person charged with allegedly committing the crime cannot be compelled to testify in our own trial. This is not true in a family law hearing and it is quite common that a spouse or CPS will try to get you to testify on the record, under oath, about any alleged criminal conduct. It is essential you have a plan for these situations and take into account the ramifications on your criminal trial.

2. Save Money on Attorney Fees
If you have an attorney representing you on both cases, the prep work and communication with potential witnesses is not repeated and is more efficient. It is also beneficial to have evidence gathered, reports reviewed and witness statements taken by the same attorney. In a family law case, it is extremely difficult in some situations to get information from law enforcement which you are entitled to receive in your criminal case. The same is also true for getting information from witnesses in your family law case that are not working with the police.

If you are involved in a family law situation and you are worried that your spouse has committed a criminal offense, having a family law attorney with experience in criminal law will allow you to communicate with law enforcement and the district attorney’s office which may assist in your family case to secure the custody orders you are seeking.

CPS, family and criminal law are factually tangled in many cases and one will certainly affect the other. It is your best bet to have an attorney experienced in handling each and every facet of your legal issues, regardless if you are the one charged with a criminal charge or involved as a family member in these situations.

3. Implications of Criminal Charges on Your Rights Relating to Your Children
It is extremely important that a parent contacts an attorney with criminal and family law experience if they are facing charges for family violence or a protective order in Dallas County, Collin County or Denton County. If you are facing these sorts of charges the family court Judge may have the authority to modify your conservatorship with your child thereby limiting your rights to make decisions on behalf of your child.

If you are charged with a crime you are still innocent of the charge before your criminal case is concluded. It is important to have an attorney who will make sure no over reactions are taken in family court that are not warranted and unnecessary.

As a criminal and family law attorney, Ryan Kreck has successfully helped and represented clients that have multiple issues in their case including charges of domestic violence, stalking, assault, child abuse and juvenile crimes. Call my Collin County Law office at 972-369-0577 to speak with me to discuss your family, CPS or criminal case.

If You’re Out Celebrating on Super Bowl Sunday With Alcohol, Remember to Find a Safe Ride Home

We love football! We love Super Bowl parties! Even if you are not a football fan, Super Bowl parties are great fun. Many of us host parties with our favorite drinks and secret recipes for wings and hot sauce. But plan ahead for a safe ride home because police departments across the country will be out in force.

Because of the increased drinking that occurs with Super Bowl events there will be an increased police presence, including DWI checkpoints and police stops for suspicion of “drunk driving.” No matter how careful you are driving the police will pull you over for any traffic violation, however minor it may seem. They can even follow you and wait for you to commit a traffic violation.

If you want to drink, plan ahead. Figure out what you’re going to do to avoid drinking and driving. Whether that means walking home or hitching a ride from someone who won’t be drinking at all. We want you to have a great time, but be safe.

If you or someone you love is arrested for DWI on Super Bowl Sunday make the right play and contact Rosenthal & Wadas at 877-538-8640.