November 21, 2014 By Paul Wallin
police take child while parent is arrested
Can the police take your child away when you are arrested?

If you are arrested and your child is present, the arresting officer may choose to take your child into temporary custody. The officer will then choose whether to call the other parent or the local branch of the California Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

If the officer determines that the other parent is not a danger to the child, the other parent will be able to take your child. If the other parent is not able to care for your child, DCFS staff will try to have your child placed with relatives or appropriate caregivers. If your child cannot be placed with these parties, he or she will be transported to the local Children’s Shelter. A Child Protective Services (CPS) worker will be assigned to your child’s case.

There are exceptions to these general rules. Under California law, a law enforcement officer is not required to call DCFS unless there is evidence of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect. A parent’s arrest and subsequent incarceration, does not constitute abandonment or neglect. California law does not require law enforcement agencies to care for children when one or both parents are arrested. Many law enforcement agencies do not have clear policies as to how to handle children post-arrest. Many child welfare agencies also do not have clear policies on this issue.

If your children are of an age and in a situation where they can care for themselves, the law enforcement officer may choose to leave your child alone. Law enforcement agencies’ definition of the term “minor” is not always “under 18.” Definitions for this term range from “16 and under” to “10 and under.” If you have several children, and the older ones can care for the younger ones, the officer may leave the younger children in the care of the older children.

After you are arrested, you should work with law enforcement officers, your attorney, and DCFS staff to make them aware that your child exists. Otherwise, your child’s presence may go unnoticed. If your child is left alone for a significant amount of time or suffers bad consequences because you have not told anyone that he or she exists, you may face criminal charges for child neglect.

Whether and at what point you will have the chance to regain your child depends on a number of factors. These include whether you make bail, the charges that you face, your criminal record, the age of your child, and whether your child was present at the scene of your alleged crime.

If your child was involved in the offense for which you were arrested, he or she may also be arrested or detained, depending on his or her age and level of culpability. He or she may be taken to a juvenile detention center, where he or she will also have the right to an attorney when the case is heard in court.

Call Wallin & Klarich Today

If you’ve been arrested and are worried about the wellbeing of your children or about losing custody of your children, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you. Our experienced team of attorneys has been successfully handling various criminal matters for over 30 years.

Our offices are conveniently located near you in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide you with the personal attention you deserve and expect. You don’t have to go through this alone.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.

Children of Arrested Parents: Strategies to Improve Their Safety and Well-Being:

Keeping Children Safe When Their Parents Are Arrested: Local Approaches That Work:

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