55 Kids and the Law Very often, the DCF attorney will call on the parent to testify. A parent or guard- ian may refuse to testify based upon their right against self-incrimination as stated in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. However, because these hearings are civil and not criminal, the refusal to testify may be used against the person. Any attorney, including the Petitioner’s attorney, can call a parent or guardian to the witness stand to testify. What may a judge decide after the 72-hour hearing? The judge may decide one of the following: 1. The Petitioner did not prove by a fair preponderance of the evidence that the child is in immediate danger or is suffering from serious abuse or ne- glect. The Petition may be dismissed. However, many judges do not believe they can dismiss the Petition without a trial or agreement by all the parties. 2. The Petitioner did prove by a fair preponderance of evidence that the child is in immediate danger or is suffering from serious abuse or neglect but that continued DCF custody is not necessary to protect the child. Custody of the child is returned to a parent. 3. The Petitioner did prove that the child is suffering from serious abuse or neglect or is in immediate danger, and that continued custody in DCF is necessary to protect the child. 4. The Petitioner did prove that the child is suffering from serious abuse or neglect or is in immediate danger, and that continued DCF custody is NOT necessary to protect the child. 5. The Petitioner did prove that the child is suffering from serious abuse and neglect or is in immediate danger, and the court may allow the child to be placed in the care of some suitable person or licensed agency providing foster care. Judges do not often choose option 1, above. If the judge decides option 2, 3, 4, or 5 above, the judge will then appoint an independent court investigator and order the investigator to submit a written report to the court, usually within six to ten weeks. This court investigator, who is usually a social worker or mental health professional, should enter the case on a neutral basis. Care and Protection Cases 6