You may not know what a maltreatment determination is, but it can still dramatically change your life.
Allegations that a person has abused children or vulnerable adults hold an especially complicated and fraught place in the legal system. Often, such accusations will set off several different but related cases, all of which you probably know something about: a criminal case, a family case such as a divorce or domestic abuse order for protection, a child protection case or guardianship/conservatorship, and even a civil suit for assault. All must be handled carefully. One result of an allegation of child or vulnerable adult abuse that isn’t well known even among many attorneys, however, is that an administrative investigation may begin and the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE), or a county social services agency may make a maltreatment determination before the target even understands what’s going on. Maltreatment can be anything from a physical attack to a threat of violence to sexual assault to neglect.
The Minnesota Maltreatment of Minors Act and the Minnesota Maltreatment of Vulnerable Adults Act allow an appropriate agency to investigate alleged abuse and to make an administrative determination that maltreatment of a child or a vulnerable adult has occurred and that a particular person or facility is responsible for it. The determination is made without a hearing and requires only that the agency believe that the preponderance of the evidence shows that maltreatment occurred – in other words, believes that it is even a tiny bit more likely than not that it happened.
Maltreatment determinations often don’t seem like a big deal when they’re made, but they can haunt someone for years. They can be used against the subject in court cases to devastating effect. They can also affect a person’s ability to get or hold certain jobs – a determination of “serious” maltreatment can effectively prevent a doctor, nurse, PCA, teacher, therapist, and others from working in their fields.
Fortunately, it is possible to successfully navigate an investigation or successfully appeal an adverse determination, but timelines are short and can be strict. The attorneys at Liebow & Liebling, PLLC have handled dozens of maltreatment cases, from responding to an initial contact from an investigator to appealing adverse determinations to the appropriate authority. When your reputation and career are on the line, there’s no time to waste. Contact Liebow & Liebling, PLLC today.