Most of us by now know that if a police officer shows up at your door, and asks to search your house you can insist on a search warrant. What most of us do not know is how that applies to other governmental agencies? What are your rights when someone who works for the government, but is not a police officer shows up at your door. What are your rights? What should you do?
The first thing you should do is contact my office as soon as possible. These government agents are not likely to just go away. They are going to be back….with or without a warrant. The problem will not disappear on its own, and you should use the time wisely and retain good legal advice. My office regularly handles cases at the “investigatory stage”. This is the part of the case where you are being investigated for possible criminal charges, or administrative actions, but have not yet been charged. A good attorney can help prevent those charges.
Q- The department of Children and Family Services has left a business card on my door indicating that they wish to speak to me. Do I have to talk to them?
A- No, you are under no legal obligation to speak to them, or any governmental agency. You should hire an attorney, and allow the attorney to speak to the agency on your behalf.
Q- I answered the door, and the Children and Family Services social worker said they would like to come into my house and check on the welfare of my children. Do I have to let them enter?
A- Absolutely not! They will try to talk their way into your house. However, they only can gain access in one of three ways:
1)A court order or a search warrant.
2)Consent- (This is why they say, “Can I come in…I’ll only be just a minute”
3)Exigent Circumstances- example: The child is in immediate danger. (They will potentially have to prove this immediate danger to a judge later.
Q- What do I do when a government agent is at my door and wants to talk to me?
A- Find out who they are. Demand to see some form of identification. Write down their name, and what department they are representing. Ask them if they have a warrant for entry. If they do have a warrant you will have to allow them to carry out the orders listed on that warrant. If they don’t have a warrant, DO NOT ALLOW THEM INSIDE. Indicate to them that you will not be consenting to them being on your property or searching your property until they obtain a warrant. Contact this office at once.