REGISTRY COMPLIANCE CHECKS AND CPS INVESTIGATIONS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
A Fact Guide Complied by Once Fallen
Created on 7 Aug. 2010
Most Recent Revision: 25 May 2020
[NOTE: This fact page compiled from information obtained from both online activist forums and blogs that focused on these issues. Below are highlights of numerous “what to do” lists from across the Internet, and as many give similar advice, I’m not contributing the advice to any one person]
DEALING WITH REGISTRY COMPLIANCE CHECKS
It is time for the “Sweeps” — No, not the TV ratings “Sweeps,” the US Marshalls sweeps. Formerly called FALCON raids, the gestapo.. er.. “US Marshals”, working with state and local T4 Squads.. oops.. “Law enforcement,” are conducting nationwide sweeps. It is not uncommon these days to see regular reports of sweeps or so-called “compliance checks” across the county. They will try to scare you into allowing warrantless searches of your property, including your personal effects and your own body.
This has been my personal experience with these compliance checks:
I encountered a few compliance checks since my release from prison in 2003. Often, it was the same officer that issued court summons, a single uniformed officer in an unmarked squad car. He never even attempted to step inside but I had to meet him at my residence and sign a brief form confirming I was at the location met. I felt disgusted by the act of residence verification; the only upside was that the man was cordial and did not try to push his authority. In 2013, my county sheriff decided to conduct a major compliance check operation working alongside the US Marshals. The Marshal pounded at my door nd was dressed in full goon-squad attire and demanded threateningly that I let him see my bedroom to confirm my residence or he’d return next week. (He was escorted by a county cop who looked apologetic at having been paired with this punk in SWAT clothes.) Since I was not on supervision, I “kindly” told him where he can go since he did not have a warrant and he had no choice but to leave. He never came back. There was a second compliance check operation in 2017, and this time the US Marshals were not as disrespectful. They were obviously
briefed I know my rights.
Nearly every registrant will endure a compliance check at some point in their lives, even if you aren’t on supervision. Based on a 2016 survey of 195 registered persons conducted by OnceFallen.com, over half of respondents had experienced a compliance check within three months prior to taking the survey, with just over a fourth subject to a compliance check within a month prior to taking the survey. Nearly three out of five respondents have endured multiple compliance checks within the past year, and three out of five respondents have endured at least 10 compliance checks
during their registration period. Only a fourth were on supervision/ parole/ probation. If the agent at your door is a federal agent (like a US Marshal), you are more likely to encounter rude and threatening behavior.
If you are NOT on probation/ parole, you have the same rights as any other citizen and thus maintain your right to refuse them entry. Below are a few tips posted on a forum that you should keep in mind if the gestapo come to YOUR door.
- Some have suggested not even answering the door in the first place if you are not on supervision. That may a feasible solution so long as you aren’t on paper in some cases.
- DO NOT sign anything, ever, at your door! No matter how “innocent” it seems. Politely refuse, unless you can speak to your lawyer first. (NOTE: If you do not have an attorney, be sure to read anything you sign if you feel compelled to do so. Standing up to a cop is scary, indeed, but they know you have to give up your rights willingly in order for them to proceed)
- DO NOT answer any questions beyond confirming that you are you, and required registration info. Anything else could be used (or twisted) to incriminate you.
- DO invoke the 5th amendment if necessary. But be prepared to be peppered with more questions (What are you hiding? Eh?), and reply only that you want your lawyer present first.
- DO NOT let anyone into your home without a warrant, unless you are still “on paper” (i.e., probation/ parole) and it is required. “Uncle LEO” has no right whatsoever to enter a person’s home without a warrant, UNLESS you give them permission to enter. Don’t fall for the old “can we come inside to confirm you live there” trick. Once inside they are looking for any reason to lock you up. Depending on the state, having toys or other items they consider “paraphernalia” may subject you to arrest or investigation.
- DO NOT leave your home while LE is still at your door. You have strong protections in your home, but practically none once you are out on the street.
- If you have easy access to a camera (cell phone in pocket), take a picture of the group on your porch, or better yet record the whole thing. Many cell phones have a “record” feature for you to talk into. Turn it on and keep it aimed at everyone speaking. The last one is highly important, in my opinion. HOWEVER, it may It may be illegal depending on the circumstances and where you live. According to a 2012 guide by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (found at https://www.rcfp.org/wp-content/uploads/imported/RECORDING.pdf), the following states require BOTH parties to consent to the recording of conversations: CA, CT, FL, IL, MA, MD, MI, MT, NH, NV, PA, and WA
- Limiting police check access when you live with other people: If you are residing with other people (i.e., you have a roommate or live with a relative or significant other), then police could convince that person to consent to a search. There are some exceptions to this and an article by NOLO covers this topic in more detail, but the short answer is that person can give police permission to search areas they reside. If you aren’t home, you have no say but you can refuse if you are home. This is why you must make agreements with those who reside with you to limit police search abilities. In the case of a roommate or someone not sharing a bedroom with you, then that person cannot give permission to those areas. As an added precaution, I would keep my private areas locked, and any personal effects not accessed by a roommate cannot be searched without your consent.
Something to keep in mind: The US Marshals were granted jurisdiction in “investigating and apprehending” Failure to Register violators who cross state lines. The US Marshals DO NOT have the authority to handle compliance checks. They simply tag along. The local authorities are the main individuals in charge.
Addendum: In regards to videotaping police, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review a federal appeals court decision finding it unconstitutional to enforce an Illinois state law that makes it a felony to videotape police officers working in public if a microphone is turned on. The case in the US Appeals Court decision is ACLU of Illinois v. Alvarez, 679 F. 3d 583. (7th Cir. 2012). This makes the decision the current precedent.
DEALING WITH CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES (CPS)
Let’s say you meet a nice gal who just happens to have a kid, or someone from your past who has a kid finds out you are on the registry and wants you investigated. A call is made to CPS and one of their agents shows up at your door. What are your rights?
The most important thing to remember is a CPS agent is a government agent (i.e, an “officer of the court”) which means they have investigation and decision-making powers but are limited by the Constitution just like a cop. CPS does have the obligation to investigate all complaints of child abuse and neglect no matter how frivolous, and they can make your life miserable. However, they don’t have full police capabilities. CPS agents aren’t cops, and have no direct power of arrest; they must call a cop to have you arrested or a court order to have your children removed. Still, being investigated is stressful and they can have your children removed from your house or even get you arrested under the right circumstances. Worse, since they aren’t traditional LEOs, they have less investigative training and more prone to mistakes or personal biases.
Many tips related to dealing with police at your doorstep apply to CPS. Below are various tips I have seen from online lists I feel are important to remember:
- DO NOT LET THEM IN THE HOUSE WITHOUT A WARRANT: Even if a police officer is present, they can only enter your home if you consent, if they have a warrant OR if they hear an emergency situation going on (“exigent circumstances”). Do NOT consent to let them into home even if you feel you have nothing to hide. And even if you do consent, you can force them to leave at any time. No Court Order, no entry, simple as that.
- ASK QUESTIONS (AND RECORD THE ANSWERS): It is suggested you buy a recording device and let them know they are being recorded if your state allows recording of government agents. (As noted above, some states require of both parties involved in the conversation.) Under federal law, CPS agents are obligated to tell you the exact nature of the allegations against you. Ask questions like – “Can I see your ID? What is the name and phone number of your supervisor? What are the exact allegations that have been made against me? Do you have a
warrant to search my home or speak to my children?” Document everything about your interactions with these agents.
- BE POLITE BUT DON’T ANSWER QUESTIONS WITHOUT REPRESENTATION: Your words can easily be twisted around. Don’t speak to them without a lawyer or representative. Say nothing to them. The word NO is a complete answer. The more you speak, the more evidence you give them. But be polite in rejecting them, as anger can be used against you. Even if you are poor, you can get help from legal aid.
OTHER USEFUL RESOURCES
Resources change frequently, especially as it relates to Internet-related issues. These resources were online as of November 2019:
- https://ssd.eff.org/en#index — Surveillance Self-Defense offered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. This covers a variety of topics covering online safety and privacy
- http://defendingsexcrimes.blogspot.com/2010/04/what-to-do-when-police-come-calling.html — “What To Do When The Police Come Calling” by Norm Pattis, a well-known criminal defense attorney
- https://www.michigan-sex-offense.com/legal-defense-strategies-for-winning-sex-crimes-cases-in-michiga.html — While this article is specific to Michigan, there are some good tips here and discusses both police and CPS investigations
- https://www.michigan-sex-offense.com/child-protective-services.html — Also specific to Michigan but discusses the CPS investigation process, noting the standard of proof for CPS investigations is lower than for criminal investigations.