Child Protective Services (CPS) Investigations
CPS is a branch of the Washington State Dept. of Social and Health Services. They are charged with protecting children from abuse, neglect and abandonment.
If you are under investigation by CPS, a CPS officer will generally contact you for an interview. They will also generally want to speak with family members, other children, your spouse and any witnesses to the alleged event. The contents of these investigations by CPS can quickly be forwarded to law enforcement for criminal charges. CPS investigators are technically not law enforcement officers, however, they are generally able to initiate criminal charges through law enforcement. Additionally, CPS investigators do not have an obligation to read you Miranda rights but keep in mind that these statements can be used against you.
Statements made to CPS investigators can be used against you by law enforcement. Cooperating with a CPS investigation is generally advisable but only with an attorney familiar with the process.
What is child abuse?
It is not necessarily illegal to hit a child in the State of Washington. There are many factors that are taken into consideration when determining if an act against a child is illegal. The physical discipline of a child is not unlawful when it is reasonable and moderate and inflicted by a parent, teacher or guardian for the purposes of restraining or correcting the behavior of a child. Use of force by other persons is illegal unless it is authorized in advance by parent or guardian.
The following actions are presumed to be abuse:
- Throwing, kicking, burning or cutting a child.
- Striking a child with a closed fist.
- Shaking a child under the age of three.
- interfering with breathing.
- using a weapon.
- Any other action likely to cause serious bodily damage.
The main legal issue faced in CPS investigations is what actions are "reasonable and moderate." The age and size of the child are the main factors in this. The terms "reasonable and moderate" are open to interpretation by a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigator. Additionally, a CPS investigator may take your statements out of context or misquote you.
Adult Protective Services (APS) Investigations
APS is similar to CPS but they are charged with the protection of elderly or vulnerable adults. The main difference with APS is that they investigate cases of financial abuse of the elderly. In many APS investigations there is a person or persons accused of taking money from the victim adult.