What is the Role of Child Protective Services in a Michigan Child Sex Abuse Case?
- In Michigan, the CPS component of a child sex abuse case is bifurcated. This means that there will be a criminal case, and a separate but associated CPS case.
- Criminal child sex abuse cases are investigated by the police and charged and prosecuted by the prosecuting attorney in the Circuit Court, all in the county where the crime occurred. They concern your criminal guilt or innocence with regard to the child sex abuse charges.
- CPS child sex abuse cases are investigated by CPS personnel and charged and prosecuted by the special attorney assigned to CPS in the Juvenile or Family Law Court, all in the county where the child live. They concern your parental rights to your child or children.
- While your CPS case and your criminal case are separate, and conducted by separate agencies with separate goals and outcomes, CPS does exchange information with the agencies involved in your criminal case (i.e., the police, the prosecutor, and any other relevant parties). The same is true of criminal agencies and CPS investigations.
The Michigan Child Protection Services component to an allegation of child sexual assault is bifurcated.
Bifurcated in this context means that there will be two separate proceedings involved when you are charged with child sex abuse in Michigan: one for your criminal case and one for your CPS case.
Your criminal case will be charged by the prosecuting attorney, in the Circuit Court of the county where the crime occurred. It will be investigated by the police and prosecuted by the county prosecutor in that county. This case will concern whether you are guilty or innocent of the child sex abuse charges.
Your Child Protective Services (CPS) case is different altogether. To begin with, the CPS case will concern your parental rights to your children rather than whether or not you sexually assaulted any children. It will be investigated by CPS personnel, not the police.
CPS cases are prosecuted most often by the prosecuting attorney in the county where the accusations occurred, but it’s typically a different prosecutor than the one who will prosecute your criminal trial. Rather, most counties have prosecutors specifically assigned to the CPS unit of that prosecuting attorney’s office. This attorney will prosecute your CPS case.
Furthermore, the Court where CPS cases are tried is different. Unlike criminal child sex abuse cases, they don’t take place in county’s Circuit Court. Rather, they take place in the county where the child lives – in that county’s Juvenile Court or Family Law Court.
CPS will frequently work in conjunction with the police. So, as the police are conducting their investigation into the criminal accusation, CPS will frequently work with the officers or the detective investigating the accusation and vice versa when it comes to CPS and their parental rights investigation. However, they two separate agencies, conducting two separate investigations and they result in two separate cases, though they’ll share information frequently.
In fact, the criminal investigation of a case will often trigger the opening of a CPS case on the matter, if one has not already been opened by the time the criminal case gets underway.
Police officers are mandatory reporters, so if CPS is not involved by the time the case gets to a detective, the detective is legally obligated to make sure that CPS is involved moving forward. Mandated reporters, including the police, are required by law to report any sexual assault of a minor—alleged or otherwise—to CPS.
Still, it’s important to remember that these are two separate agencies with two separate cases and two separate investigative goals: the criminal case being oriented to answer the question of whether you are guilty or innocent of the accusations against you, and the CPS case being oriented to answer the question of whether you can retain your parental rights over your child or children.
For more information on Child Sex Abuse Law in Michigan, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (248) 509-0056 today.