Child Abuse Registry Defense Attorney in Georgia
We have worked hard to become the “go-to” firm for the defense of Georgia Child Abuse Registry cases.
Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services works to ensure the safety and protection of all Georgia’s children. Senate Bill 138 section 11 was codified into Georgia code 49-5-182 which requires the Division of Family and Children Services to establish and maintain a registry of all substantiated cases of abuse and neglect into a centralized Child Protective Services Information System(Child Abuse Registry). The Division of Family and Children Services will enter the names of all maltreators with a substantiated case of child abuse and/or neglect on or after July 1, 2016 into the Child Protective Services Information System (Child Abuse Registry). If you are hoping to avoid being placed on Georgia’s child abuse registry, you need a smart and skilled criminal defense attorney that understands Georgia’s administrative law procedure.
Challenging Georgia’s Action to Place You on The Child Abuse Registry
Video: “Georgia Child Abuse Registry”
One of the things that we’re increasingly seeing is that the government is trying to place people under certain administrative restrictions before or as quickly a – after it is — after they learn about an allegation involving alcohol, child abuse, sex offenses, any number of another type of criminal offenses, and they put people on these registries in administrative actions, before there’s any criminal case that actually takes place. So, they’re trying to go ahead and punish you before you’ve actually been put to trial on your actual criminal charges. One of the areas in which this has begun to be implemented is in child abuse cases or child neglect cases. Effective July 1, 2016, Georgia implemented a child abuse registry that is main — maintained by the Department of Family and Children Services. We don’t know yet how that registry will actually be used and which law enforcement agencies will have access to it and how it is that it’ll affect you down the line. We just know that they’re starting to maintain that database, supposedly for the purposes of screening out people who were actually caring for or in the business of caring for children. If you’ve received any type of notice that they’re actually trying to take this action against you, and you’re concerned about how your — you’re being placed on that child abuse registry may impact you, feel free to contact me. My name is Ben Sessions at the Sessions Law Firm. My phone number’s 470-225-7710. Again, 470-225-7710. Thank you.
Georgia Child Abuse Registry Appeal
This is a template that you can use for the appeal of the Department of Family and Children Services’ decision to place you on the Child Abuse Registry:
VIA CERTIFIED U.S. MAIL May 22, 2019
WITH RETURN-RECEIPT REQUESTED
Georgia Division of Family & Children Services
Child Abuse Registry Screening Unit
2 Peachtree St., NW, 18th Floor
Atlanta, GA 30305
Re: Petitioner’s Name:
The Petitioner wishes to have a hearing upon the Department’s decision to place her upon the Child Abuse Registry.
The Petitioner hereby requests an immediate hearing regarding this matter.
Petitioner may testify at the hearing and reserves the right to call additional witnesses to appear at said hearing that are unbeknownst to Petitioner at this time. Petitioner does not waive any required proof or full and complete compliance by the Department with all statutory and regulatory perquisites at the administrative hearing.
Finally, Petitioner wishes to make an independent tape recording of the hearing.
Attorney for Petitioner
What Is the Purpose of The Georgia Child Abuse Registry?
- Promote a more efficient method of sharing child abuse information with other states as required by law.
- Central repository where substantiated investigated child abuse and neglected reports are stored and maintained.
- Comply with State of Georgia laws and regulations.
- Comply with the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) child welfare policy and practices.
(a) The division shall establish and maintain a central child abuse registry which shall be known as the “Child Protective Services Information System.” The child abuse registry shall receive notice regarding substantiated cases occurring on and after July 1, 2016, reported to the division pursuant to Code Section 49-5-182.
(b) The child abuse registry shall be operated in such a manner as to enable abuse investigators to:
(1) Immediately identify and locate substantiated cases; and
(2) Maintain and produce aggregate statistical data of substantiated cases.
O.C.G.A. § 49-5-181.
An abuse investigator who completes the investigation of a child abuse report made pursuant to Code Section 19-7-5 or otherwise and determines that it is a substantiated case if the alleged child abuser was at least 13 years of age at the time of the commission of the act shall notify the division within 30 business days following such determination. Such notice may be submitted electronically and shall include the following:
(1) Name, age, sex, race, social security number, if known, and birthdate of the child alleged to have been abused;
(2) Name, age, sex, race, social security number, and birthdate of the parents, custodian, or caretaker of the child alleged to have been abused, if known;
(3) Name, age, sex, race, social security number, and birthdate of the person who committed the substantiated case; and
(4) A summary of the known details of the child abuse which at a minimum shall contain the classification of the abuse as provided in paragraph (4) of subsection (b) of Code Section 19-7-5 as either sexual abuse, physical abuse, child neglect, or a combination thereof.
O.C.G.A. § 49-5-182.
Your Opportunity For A Hearing Prior To Being Placed Upon The Child Abuse Registry
(a) Upon receipt of an investigator’s report of a substantiated case pursuant to Code Section 49-5-182 naming an alleged child abuser, the division:
(1) Shall include in the child abuse registry the name of the alleged child abuser, the classification of the abuse as provided in paragraph (4) of Code Section 49-5-182, and a copy of the investigator’s report; and
(2) Shall mail to such alleged child abuser in such report a notice regarding the substantiated case via certified mail, return receipt requested. It shall be a rebuttable presumption that any such notice has been received if the return receipt has been received by the division. The notice shall further inform such alleged child abuser of his or her right to a hearing to appeal such determination. The notice shall further inform such alleged child abuser of the procedures for obtaining the hearing and that an opportunity shall be afforded all parties to be represented by legal counsel and to respond and present evidence on all issues involved.
(b) Any alleged child abuser who has not attained the age of majority set forth by Code Section 39-1-1 at the time of the hearing requested pursuant to subsection (d) of this Code section shall be entitled to representation at the hearing either by the alleged child abuser’s parent or other legal guardian or by an attorney employed by such parent or guardian. In the event the administrative law judge conducting the hearing determines that any such alleged minor child abuser will not be so represented at the hearing, or that the interests of any such alleged minor child abuser may conflict with the interests of the alleged minor child abuser’s parent or other legal guardian, the administrative law judge shall order the division to apply to the superior court of the county in which the alleged act of child abuse was committed to have counsel appointed for the alleged minor child abuser. Payment for any such court appointed representation shall be made by such county.
(c) In order to exercise such right to a hearing, the alleged child abuser shall file a written request for a hearing with the division within ten days after receipt of such notice. The written request shall contain the alleged child abuser’s current residence address and, if he or she has a telephone, a telephone number at which he or she may be notified of the hearing.
(d) If the division receives a timely written request for a hearing under subsection (c) of this Code section, it shall transmit that request to the Office of State Administrative Hearings within ten days after such receipt. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Office of State Administrative Hearings shall conduct a hearing upon that request in accordance with Chapter 13 of Title 50, the “Georgia Administrative Procedure Act,” and the rules of the Office of State Administrative Hearings adopted pursuant thereto, except as otherwise provided in this article. The hearing shall be for the purpose of an administrative determination regarding whether, based on a preponderance of evidence, there was child abuse committed by the alleged child abuser to justify the investigator’s determination of a substantiated case. The Office of State Administrative Hearings shall give notice of the time and place of the hearing to the alleged child abuser by first-class mail to the address specified in the written request for a hearing and to the division by first-class mail at least ten days prior to the date of the hearing. It shall be a rebuttable presumption that any such notice is received five days after deposit in the United States mail with the correct address of the alleged child abuser and the division, respectively, and proper postage affixed. Unless postponed by mutual consent of the parties and the administrative law judge or for good cause shown, such hearing shall be held within 30 business days following receipt by the Office of State Administrative Hearings of the request for a hearing, and a decision shall be rendered within five business days following such hearing. A motion for an expedited hearing may be filed in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the Office of State Administrative Hearings. The hearing may be continued as necessary to allow the appointment of counsel. A telephone hearing may be conducted concerning this matter in accordance with standards prescribed in paragraph (5) of Code Section 50-13-15. Upon the request of any party to the proceeding or the assigned administrative law judge, venue may be transferred to any location within this state if all parties and the administrative law judge consent to such a change of venue. Otherwise, the hearing shall be conducted in the county in which the alleged act of child abuse was committed. The doctrines of collateral estoppel and res judicata as applied in judicial proceedings are applicable to the administrative hearings held pursuant to this article.
(e) At the conclusion of the hearing under subsection (d) of this Code section, upon a finding that there is not a preponderance of evidence to conclude that the alleged child abuser committed an act of child abuse, the administrative law judge shall order that the alleged child abuser’s name be removed from the child abuse registry. The general public shall be excluded from hearings of the Office of State Administrative Hearings held pursuant to this article, and the files and records relating thereto shall be confidential and not subject to public inspection.
(f) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the decision of the administrative law judge under subsection (e) of this Code section shall constitute the final administrative decision. Any party shall have the right of judicial review of such decision in accordance with Chapter 13 of Title 50, the “Georgia Administrative Procedure Act,” except that the petition for review shall be filed within ten days after such decision and may only be filed with and the decision appealed to the superior court of the county where the hearing took place or, if the hearing was conducted by telephone, the Superior Court of Fulton County. The procedures for such appeal shall be substantially the same as those for judicial review of contested cases under Code Section 50-13-19 except that the filing of a petition for judicial review stays the listing of the petitioner’s name upon the child abuse registry, and the superior court shall conduct the review and render its decision thereon within 30 days following the filing of the petition. The review and records thereof shall be closed to the public and not subject to public inspection.
(g) The administrative law judge shall transmit to the division his or her decision regarding the alleged child abuser and the investigator’s report regarding such individual within ten days following that decision unless a petition for judicial review of that decision is filed within the permitted time period. If a timely petition for judicial review is filed within the permitted time period, the superior court shall transmit to the division its decision regarding the alleged child abuser and the investigator’s report regarding such individual within ten days following that decision.
(h) With regard to a minor child alleged to have committed abuse, the division shall remove such individual’s name from the registry if:
(1) He or she has reached 18 years of age;
(2) More than one year has passed from the date of the act or omission that resulted in a substantiated case and there have been no subsequent acts or omissions resulting in a substantiated case; and
(3) He or she can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she has been rehabilitated.
O.C.G.A. § 49-5-183.
Who can access information from the Georgia Child Abuse Registry?
(a) Except as otherwise authorized in subsection (c) of this Code section and subsection (b) of Code Section 49-5-186, the only persons or entities that may access or be provided any information from the child abuse registry are:
(1) An abuse investigator who has investigated or is investigating a case of possible child abuse and who shall only be provided information relating to such case for purposes of using such information in such investigation;
(2) State or other government agencies of this state or any other state which license entities that have interactions with children or are responsible for providing care for children or licensed entities in this state which interact with children or are responsible for providing care for children and which shall only be provided information for purposes of licensing or employment of a specific individual;
(3) A licensing entity, which may disclose information from the child abuse registry in a written notice to an applicant or licensed entity whose license is denied or revoked as a result of information found in the registry, to the extent that such information is required in such notice by a federal or state law, regulation, or policy or in a proceeding arising from an adverse action taken against a licensed entity or individual as a result of information found in the registry;
(4) The Department of Early Care and Learning, which is authorized to disclose all or a portion of the information from the child abuse registry used to determine that a records check is unsatisfactory or to rescind a determination that a records check is satisfactory to an individual who has submitted a records check application or whose satisfactory records check determination has been rescinded in accordance with Article 2 of Chapter 1A of Title 20; and
(5) An affiliate court appointed special advocate program, as such term is defined in Code Section 15-11-2, which information shall be provided and used solely for the purpose of screening and selecting employees and volunteers of such affiliate court appointed special advocate program and screening and selecting individuals to serve as a CASA, as such term is defined in Code Section 15-11-2.
(b) The division shall provide the Governor’s office, the General Assembly, district attorneys, and law enforcement agencies with a statistical analysis of substantiated cases of child abuse entered into the child abuse registry at the end of each calendar year. This analysis shall not include the names of any children, parents, or persons associated with the child abuse. This analysis shall not be protected by any laws prohibiting the dissemination of confidential information.
(c) An individual may make a written request to the division to find out whether his or her name is included in the child abuse registry. Upon presentation of a passport, military identification card, driver’s license, or identification card authorized under Code Sections 40-5-100 through 40-5-104, the office receiving such request shall disclose to such individual whether his or her name is included in the child abuse registry and, if so, the date upon which his or her name was listed in the registry.
(d) The division shall provide persons and entities authorized in subsection (a) of this Code section with access to or information from the child abuse registry sufficient to meet the requirements prescribed by Congress as conditions to federal funding for programs administered by such persons or entities.
O.C.G.A. § 49-5-185.
(a) Information in the child abuse registry shall be confidential and shall not be subject to Article 4 of Chapter 18 of Title 50, and access thereto is prohibited except as provided in this article. Such information shall not be deemed to be a record of child abuse for purposes of Article 2 of this chapter.
(b)(1) Information obtained from the child abuse registry shall not be made a part of any record which is open to the public except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection; provided, however, that a district attorney may use such information in any court proceeding in the course of any criminal prosecution, if such information is otherwise admissible.
(2) Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, information in the child abuse registry applicable to a child who at the time of his or her death was in the custody of a state department or agency or foster parent, which information relates to the child while in the custody of such state department or agency or foster parent, shall not be confidential and shall be subject to Article 4 of Chapter 18 of Title 50.
(c) Any person who knowingly provides any information from the child abuse registry to a person not authorized to be provided such information under this article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
(d) Any person who knowingly and under false pretense obtains or attempts to obtain information which was obtained from the child abuse registry, except as authorized in this article, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
O.C.G.A. § 49-5-186.