If you have been accused of child abuse or sexual abuse of a child, then you may find yourself on the Child Abuse Registry. This registry is officially titled the Child Protective Services Information System. There is no criminal proceeding that results in your name being placed on the list and, therefore, your rights are not the same. Instead, it is an administrative proceeding which means different lawyers, different judges, and different courts. We'll go into more detail below, but just in case you are skimming:
YOU HAVE ONLY TEN DAYS TO APPEAL.
Georgia Child Abuse Registry Definitions
When the Georgia legislature created the Georgia Child Abuse Registry they took the time to provide some specific definitions for certain words. As you read this webpage, you may see some of those words. I have highlighted some of the important definitions below:
1. "Alleged child abuser" means an individual named in an abuse investigator's report as having committed a substantiated case.
2. "Child abuse" means:
- Physical injury or death inflicted upon a child by a parent or caretaker thereof by other than accidental means; provided, however, that physical forms of discipline may be used as long as there is no physical injury to the child;
- Neglect or exploitation of a child by a parent or caretaker thereof;
- Endangering a child;
- Sexual abuse of a child; or
- Sexual exploitation of a child.
3. "Substantiated case" means an investigation of a child abuse report by an abuse investigator which has been confirmed based upon a preponderance of the evidence that child abuse has occurred.
How Does My Name Get on the Georgia Child Abuse Registry?
There are a couple of steps to being placed on the child abuse registry here in Georgia. You, however, do not get a say before your name is put onto the list.
First, an investigator must determine that there is a substantiated case of child abuse. After that, then the investigator has 30 days to send a notice to DFCS. This notice has to include information about the child, the alleged abuser, information about the custodian of the child, a summary of the alleged abuse that must be classified as 1) Sexual Abuse; 2) Physical Abuse; 3) Neglect; or 4) a combination.
Once the notice is received by DFCS then they must put your name on the registry. Additionally, they must include the classification of the alleged abuse and include a report from the investigator. After your name is added, DFCS must send you a notice regarding the substantiated case via certified mail. This notice will tell you that you have a right to appeal and will give your information about how to appeal (that's probably why you are reading this webpage).
How Do I Get My Name off of the Georgia Child Abuse Registry?
You (or your attorney) must file a written request for a hearing with DFCS WITHIN TEN DAYS. This request must include your current address and telephone number.
Once DFCS gets the request for a hearing, then they send the request to the Office of State Administrative Hearings (OSAH). OSAH will then conduct the hearings. This occurs in front of an administrative law judge. You will get notice via first class mail of the time and place the hearing will take place. After OSAH receives the request, the hearing will take place within 30 days and a decision will be made within five days of the hearing. This hearing can be expedited or delayed where appropriate - the location can even be changed if everyone agrees.
At this hearing, DFCS must prove that is is more likely than not (preponderance of evidence standard) than you committed an act of child abuse such that the DFCS was justified to substantiate a case. If the judge finds that DFCS failed to meet this burden, then an order will be filed removing your name from the list. If the judge finds that DFCS did meet their burden then your name will remain on the list, but you may appeal.
Contact a Georgia Child Abuse Registry Attorney
These cases require swift action. If you have received a letter notifying you that you have been placed on the registry you are already low on time and need to contact an attorney immediately. Contact Us today so that we may help you through these difficult times. Don't Fight Alone.