As someone who has a degree in Criminal Justice this question has bothered me since day one. In the Georgia Law Enforcement Handbook it 2003-04 clearly states under Chapter 12 titled “Offenses Against Public Health and Morals”
This: Code 16-2-1 Contributing to delinquency, unruliness, or deprivation of a minor
A person commits the offense of contributing to the delinquency, unruliness, or deprivation of a minor when such person:…..
(3) Willfully commits a act or acts or willfully fails to act when such act or omission would cause a minor to be found to be a deprived child as such is defined in Code Section 15-11-2, relating in juvenile proceedings.
Now the code for Section 15-11-2 under the chapter of Courts i.e. Family Court states: (8) “Deprived Child” means a child who:
(A) Is without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for the child’s physical, mental or emotional health or morals…..
Section 15- 11-7 Other Basic Rights:
(a) a party is entitled to the opportunity to introduce evidence and otherwise be heard in his or her own behalf and to cross-examine adverse witnesses.
Now the problem here is that child deprivation cases while considered criminal are argued in civil court. My question is why? If a parent is charged by Child Protective Services with Deprivation that is a criminal charge and should be heard in a criminal court. As to the “Other Basic Rights” in Section 15-11-7 that is a joke. The reason is simple the case is heard in civil court and the defendant in this case the parent is not allowed to cross examine or to call their own witnesses. In fact in Jackson County Judge Guidry will not allow it.
The reason that a deprivation case is not heard in a criminal court is two fold. One in most cases the term “deprivation” is so broad and sweeping that if it went to criminal court it would be thrown out. Second they use the excuse in the best interest of the child. That again is a lie, it is in the best interest of CPS and all of the entities that are paid with Federal Dollars under the Adoption and Safe Families Act.
It would appear that in Georgia they make the law fit their agenda. It cannot be both ways ,it can not be a misdemeanor for the first or second offense and a felony of the third offense and be tried in civil court. It cannot be tried in civil court if is listed as a misdemeanor and a felony depending on the times the same offense occurs. So which is it? Bottom line it is what ever brings in the money.