Dealing With CPS:Demand a Copy of the Search Warrant
When a government agent (social worker, police officer, etc) comes to your door, they are seeking your consent to allow them into your home. Read this before allowing a warrantless entry.
Note that you do not have to speak with a Government Agent or allow them to enter your home without a search warrant!
Say something like:
I understand your concerns and I'm happy to cooperate. May I see your search warrant please?
The agent may try to tell you that a search warrant isn't required because you can give voluntary consent or he may try to make you believe you are required to allow him into your home. The agent might say, I'm required by law to come into your home to investigate." It is true that the agent is required to make an investigation which may include entering your home. However, this doesn't give the agent authority to break the law. If the agent needs to enter your home as part of his investigation, he needs to obtain a search warrant.
Remember that the agent is the one asking you to circumvent the law. You are acting within the law and he is asking you to ignore the law, skip procedure and just do things his way.
Don't be intimidated. Keep a proper perspective of the situation; you are willing to cooperate within the law. The law dictates that a search warrant is required before entering a private home. Your position should be:
I do want to cooperate. I do not want to ignore proper procedure. Why would you want to circumvent clearly established laws and procedures?
Do not allow the agent to peer inside of your home or view your children. Do not answer any questions without seeing the search warrant and verifying it's authenticity. Even minor questions such as your date of birth, name, number of children, etc. should not be answered without seeing a search warrant.
GAINING ENTRY BY THREAT OR INTIMIDATION It is unlawful for the agent to coerce entry into your home by threatening or intimidating you. Federal courts are increasingly finding for parents who sue state agents for coerced entry. The 9th Circuit recently ruled:
Any government official can be held to know that their office does not give them an unrestricted right to enter peoples' homes at will.
[It is] settled constitutional law that ... police could not enter a dwelling without a warrant even under statutory authority where probable cause existed. The principle that government officials cannot coerce entry into people's houses without a search warrant ... is so well established that any reasonable officer would know it.
Appellants' claim, that "a search warrant is not required for home investigatory visits by social workers," is simply not the law.
[N]owhere is the protective force of the fourth amendment more powerful than it is when the sanctity of the home is involved. & Therefore, we have been adamant in our demand that absent exigent circumstances a warrant will be required before a person's home is invaded by the authorities."
Case law: Calabretta v Floyd 189 F.3d 808 (9th Cir. 1999)
In the above case, a social worker and police officer coerced entry into the Calabretta home by threatening to break the door down. Even though the mother ultimately opened the door and allowed them to enter, she did so by coercion which is unlawful. Thus, the agents were held personally liable.
We recommend that you print the highlights of this case and other "warrantless entry" cases to hand to government agents who attempt to coerce entry into your home.
EVIDENCE REQUIRED TO OBTAIN A SEARCH WARRANT In order to get a search warrant, the agent needs some sort of evidence. It can't be an anonymous phone call or allegations without any supporting evidence.
Even when the agent has enough evidence to obtain a search warrant, he is restricted to looking for specific things listed on the warrant. As an example, the warrant may give the agent authority to interview one of your children, this wouldn't allow him to interview siblings or look through your home. It also wouldn't require you to answer any questions.
Agents typically do not seek warrants because; a) they don't have enough evidence to obtain one and b) they don't wish to be restricted in their "investigations".
This constitutional protection was put into place to protect families against unwarranted governmental intrusion into their private lives. Don't waive it! When properly used, this protection is adequate to protect innocent families but will not serve to conceal genuine child abuse.
QUESTIONING CHILDREN AT SCHOOL While families are safe from warrantless governmental intrusion in their private homes; most states require that school and day care personnel allow state agents access to children without informing the parents either before or after contact has been made.
A way to overcome this is to teach your children to exercise their right to have their parents present before answering any questions. The easiest way to do this is by making up a laminated card and instructing the child to hand it to government agents. A sample card might look like this:
NOTICE TO GOVERNMENT AGENTS:
You are hereby informed that I have a right to have my parents present prior to answering any questions. I am now exercising that right and request that you contact my parents immediately.
The back of the card should have the child's name, parents' names and contact information. Several numbers should be listed; home, work, pager and an extra emergency number. Home and work addresses should be given as well. The more contact information, the better. This will eliminate the possibility of the agent claiming he didn't know how to reach you.
By utilizing a written card, the child need only hand it to the agent rather than memorizing what to say. Since it's in writing, the agent can't say the child didn't properly exert his right to have parents present prior to answering questions.
You may be asking; "How do I explain to my child what a government agent is?" Most of us teach our children not to talk to strangers. Government agents are strangers! It's okay to tell your child not to talk to any adult unless you've given permission.
The reason we teach our children not to talk to strangers is because we don't know what their motives are; they may be seeking to harm them. This couldn't be more true with government agents. We don't know their motives and we can't presume they are pure because the child welfare system has irreparably harmed many children in the past.
Because children sometimes can't tell the difference between government agents and 'regular' people, it is a good idea to teach children about the types of questions they shouldn't answer rather than the types of people they shouldn't talk to.
Basically, no person should ask about things that happen at home; what they eat, who they associate with, who visits, what type of discipline is used, etc. If an adult has a legitimate need to knows these things, he/she should ask the parent, not the child.
INVASIVE SURVEYS Public and private schools are increasingly requiring children to participate in group surveys that ask intrusive questions about private home life. These surveys are often a fishing expedition to find indicators of abuse.
The so-called indicators aren't what you'd expect them to be. Low income, no telephone, residence outside the city limits, more than three children, use of corporal punishment or grounding, both parents working, single parents, religious practices and other common things are seen as indicators of abuse and could generate a report to a child welfare agency.
By law, children may be excluded from these invasive surveys if the parents have a Hatch Letter on file with the school.
The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (The Hatch Amendment) to the General Education Provisions Act, which became effective November 12, 1984 allows parents to exclude their children from basically anything that isn't reading, writing or arithmetic.
The Hatch Amendment provides a procedure for filing complaints with the U.S. Department of Education and then withholding of federal funds for those in violation of the law.