How to Win Your CPS Trial


Part One: The Overview

At some point in a CPS / DCFS case you will be entitled to your trial. Now there are 2 different trials you should be aware of: jurisdictional and dispositional hearings. They are very different. And you should understand the difference.

First, and most confusing to most people is that these two hearings are frequently done at the same time. This is confusing to most clients, and a lot of attorneys. At the jurisdictional hearing, sometimes called the “Jurisdictional” hearing in some counties, the “Juris” hearing in some counties, and the “Adjudication” in others; this is the actual hearing where the County Social Workers, and their attorneys, the County Counsel, must prove that the allegations against you are true, by a preponderance of evidence, and that you are a Risk to the child. Some people define preponderance as more likely than not, or more than 50 percent true. This is the standard, but some theorize that it’s actually the parents who are

The second trial you are entitled to is the “Dispositional” hearing, also called the “Dispo” hearing in most counties. At the dispo, the social worker must prove by Clear and Convincing evidence, that you are a substantial danger to the child; and that there are no less restrictive alternatives other than removing the children from your home. I know that’s a mouthful, but this is an overview. I will break it down in subsequent blogs.

Now, in my humble opinion this is where a lot of folks are missing the boat. The evidentiary standard is higher than above, the Preponderance test. So, generally, if you are participating in any type of remedial program, this burden actually becomes more difficult for the Social Worker to prove against you. Next, it is very difficult to prove that someone is a “substantial danger” to a child. Not just danger, a substantial danger. In my opinion, you’d have to be one bad dude to be a substantial danger. And most people I meet are not substantial dangers to their children. They may have made a mistake that doesn’t justify the child remaining out of the parents’ home for the next 6 months.

These are all very important, and some subtle issues which must be discussed with your attorney BEFORE the actual hearings; and surely not on the day of the hearing. Plan to meet with your attorneys 1, if not multiple times, to discuss your defense strategy, the witnesses you are calling and the remedial classes you should be starting well in advance of the hearings. I like to meet with clients at least 2 or 3 times before the trial to develop these plans. It’s hard to properly prepare otherwise.

My next blogs will address all of the subjects below. These blogs will cover, in general, about 90 percent of the juvenile dependency process. For more specific questions and consults, you have to call me directly.

Part Two: Discovery

Part Three: The Jurisdictional Hearing

Part Four: The Dispositional Hearing

Part Five: The Appeal of the Court’s Findings & Orders

Part Six: The 388 Petition

Part Seven: The 366.21(e)

Part Eight: The 366.21(f)

Part Nine: Denial of Further Family Reunification Services

Part Nine: The 366.26 (The Juvenile Court “Death Sentence”)

Part Ten: The 388 Petition Revisited

Part Eleven: Rights of Relatives and Family Friends


Vincent W Davis

Attorney at Law

150 North Santa Anita Avenue

Suite 200

Arcadia, CA 91006

888 888 6582

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