“What is the Child Abuse Central Index (CACI)?”
California’s Child Abuse Central Index is a list maintained by the California Department of Justice of known and suspected child abusers.
“How did my name get on the CACI?”
Your name could have gotten on the CACI in one of two ways. If your name was recently placed on the Index, it is because a county child welfare agency (such as CPS, CWS, Health & Human Family Services Agency–different counties use different names) conducted an investigation into an incident and concluded that you abused or neglected a child. That county agency then sent a notice to the Department of Justice to have your name placed on the CACI.
“Who has access to the list of names on the CACI?”
There is a long list of people and organizations that have access to the CACI. The ones you really care about include: Employers Potential future employers Law enforcement Prosecutors Judges State licensing agencies Schools Non-profit organizations at which you may wish to volunteer Any of the above organizations from other states
“Is my name already on the CACI?”
Probably. Most people find this site because one of two things happened: 1) They got a letter in the mail from their local child welfare services agency notifying them that their name was placed on the CACI. If that’s you, then yes, your name is already on the CACI as you read this. 2) They were notified by another organization (such as a potential employer or a licensing agency) that their name is on the CACI. If that’s you, then yes, obviously your name is already on the CACI.
“What steps do I need to take to get my name off the Child Abuse Central Index?”
If you received a letter from a county agency notifying you of the placement of your name on the CACI, it probably informed you that you only have 30 days from the date of the letter to ask for a Grievance Hearing to dispute your listing on the CACI. NOTE: The letter probably says you have 30 days FROM THE DATE OF THE LETTER, NOT THE DATE YOU RECEIVED THE LETTER. I emphasize this because it is not uncommon for people to receive the letter a couple weeks after the letter was written. So, what steps do you need to take? You need to ask for a Grievance Hearing using the form provided in the envelope. You can either hire a lawyer to do that for you or you can do it yourself. Either way, that should be your first priority, before time runs out. If you miss that deadline, you’re out of luck–you won’t have another chance to get your name off the CACI. If you found out you were on the CACI from someone other than the county agency, then you need to write a letter to the appropriate government agency, asking for a hearing. Again, you can either hire a lawyer to do it for you or you can do it yourself.
“Is there anything that would prevent me from getting started right now?”
If you have a current court case pending (either in criminal court or dependency court–dependency court is where the government is trying to take your kids away from you), then the county agency will not give you a Grievance Hearing right now. They will wait until the court case is resolved. If during the court case the judge makes a finding that you committed child abuse or neglect, the county agency will not give you a Grievance Hearing at all. You’ll be out of luck. If the court case is resolved in your favor, then you should ask for a Grievance Hearing. So, if you do currently have a pending criminal or dependency case, the question is: should you send in your request for a Grievance Hearing now, or should wait to see what happens with your court case? My recommendation is you send in your request for a Grievance Hearing now, just in case the court case is resolved in your favor. You don’t want the county agency coming back to you and saying, “Sorry, you had the chance to ask for a hearing 6 months ago and you didn’t do it, so even though your criminal charges were dismissed, we’re not going to give you a Grievance Hearing.” If you ask for a Grievance Hearing now, there will be a record of it later.
“What exactly can you do for me to get my name off the CACI?”
My particular areas of legal knowledge are the child abuse laws and the child abuse reporting laws. I represent clients in their fight to get off the CACI. For more in depth information on how I help my clients, watch my 4-part video series that shows you how I win Grievance Hearings.
“Do you take cases in my area?”
If you have a CACI case in California, then yes. I take cases all over California. I’ve helped people in Sacramento, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, San Diego, and other counties. While my office is located in San Diego County, wherever you are located, I can help.
“What else can you tell me about CACI cases in the various counties?”
Learn more about Grievance Hearings in the following California counties: Alameda County Contra Costa County El Dorado County Imperial County Los Angeles County Orange County Placer County Riverside County Sacramento County San Bernardino County San Diego County San Mateo County Ventura County
“What kind of lawyer do I need?”
Which lawyers are best able to handle CACI cases? Criminal defense lawyers, family law lawyers or dependency lawyers?
In my opinion, the answer is: none of these.
CACI cases are NOT criminal cases, family cases, or dependency cases.
CACI cases are NOT held in criminal courts, family courts, or dependency courts.
CACI cases are ADMINISTRATIVE cases and deal with ADMINISTRATIVE law.
The type of attorney you need is an administrative lawyer who specializes in CACI proceedings.
Only about 3% of all criminal cases go to trial. The vast majority of criminal cases settle after negotiation between the defense lawyer, prosecutor, and judge. Therefore, many excellent criminal defense lawyers have excellent negotiating skills.
CACI cases are not negotiated. Well, it does happen, but it’s quite rare. The vast majority of CACI cases proceed to hearing (which is like a trial.)
Another big difference between criminal cases and CACI cases is quite often criminal defense lawyers see their job as getting the least punishment (i.e., sentence) possible. This almost always involves their client admitting guilt early and expressing sympathy for the victim, and taking responsibility for his or her action. This will not work in CACI cases. If you do this in CACI cases, you will lose.
Therefore, the skills of a criminal defense lawyer (even a really good one) may not translate well to CACI cases.
Good family lawyers know the Family Code very well. However, they may not know the Penal Code very well. Family lawyers may also know the case law (appellate court opinions) related to family law very well. They typically are not very well-versed in the case law relating to criminal law.
CACI cases involve criminal law, not family law. It is important that your CACI lawyer know the criminal law (both statutes and case law) related to child abuse backwards and forward. Your case rests on this area of law.
One of the difficulties that child welfare agency social workers and County Counsel have with CACI proceedings is that they very often want to apply dependency laws to CACI cases. However, dependency law has NO APPLICATION to CACI cases, and applying dependency law to CACI cases will often be harmful to your case. Dependency law comes from the Welfare & Institutions Code, not the Penal Code. A “guilty” finding under the Welfare & Institutions Code is much easier to come to than it is in the Penal Code.
Administrative law deals with laws made by agencies of the executive branch of government. For example, the DMV, the FTC, the EPA, state and federal licensing agencies, and countless others, are all involved in administrative law.
There are administrative laws related to: driver’s licenses, professional licenses, consumer protection, and a very long list of other topics.
It is practically impossible for one administrative lawyer to know well all the laws applicable in all the different types of administrative proceedings that exist.
A good administrative lawyer will know procedural rules that apply in administrative hearings, the case law applicable in administrative hearings, and have a great depth of knowledge related to the subject matter of your administrative hearing (in your case: child abuse).
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“How will being on the CACI negatively impact me and my family?”
The answer depends on what you do in life. If you are a practicing nurse with a current job, it could result in you losing your job. If you have security clearance, I’ve been told that it could affect result in losing that clearance. If you are looking for a job as a teacher, it could result in losing that opportunity because employers will simply not hire you. If you are trying to become a foster parent, it could disqualify you from being eligible as a foster parent. If you ever want to adopt a child, you lose that opportunity. If you want to become a coach for your child’s little league team or volunteer in your child’s class or participate as a Sunday school teacher…in all of those situations, being on the CACI could prevent you from becoming involved. I have represented clients in each of the situations described above. Those are the reasons why they hired me. On the other hand, perhaps you don’t ever see yourself falling in any of those scenarios. I have also had clients hire me simply because they didn’t like the idea of being labelled a “child abuser”. They felt it was an injustice for them to be on the list and, as a matter of principle, they wanted off. They needed to defend their good name and reputation based on principle. You may feel similarly. If none of those scenarios resonate with you, then perhaps being on the CACI will never really negatively affect your life or the lives of your family members.
“Is the CACI the same as a criminal record?”
No. While both the CACI and criminal records are maintained by the California Department of Justice, they are two separate lists. Being on the CACI does not mean you have a criminal record. In fact, many people on the CACI do not have criminal records.
“How long will my name stay on the CACI?”
It depends. Are you an adult? If so, your name will stay on the CACI for the rest of your life (or until you turn 100 years old)…unless you act to get your name taken off the Child Abuse Central Index now. If your name was placed on the CACI as a minor, your name will be removed from the CACI 10 years from the date of the incident resulting in the CACI listing AS LONG AS you don’t have your name placed on the CACI again for some other reason, in which case your name could stay on the Child Abuse Central Index for the rest of your life (or until you turn 100 years old).
“When should I get started to get my name off the Child Abuse Central Index?”
Now. Your time to act is extremely limited. It’s best to act now.
“How long will my case take to resolve?”
From the date that we submit a request for a CACI Grievance Hearing to the county, the shortest amount of time in which I’ve seen a case resolved was probably just 3 and a half weeks. The longest is about 3 and a half years. If I had to guess, I’d say most cases are resolved somewhere around 9 months. There are a number of factors that will determine how long your case will take:
- Are you the minor’s parent?
- Do you have a particular reason to have your hearing sooner rather than later?
- Do you have a particular reason to delay your hearing?
- Are you going through a child custody dispute in family court?
- Will we want to hire expert witnesses to help us with your case?
- Was the minor interviewed by a professional forensic interviewer? If so, was the interview audio or video recorded?
- Did the minor receive a medical evaluation?
- What county is your case in? (Some counties take MUCH longer to make a decision than others.)
“What are some reasons your clients have hired you?”
People hire me because they need to get their names off the CACI, but the reasons why they need to get off the CACI vary. Some clients will not be able to get a job in their chosen profession while on the CACI. This includes nurses, teachers, coaches, school administrators, prison guards, probation officers, law enforcement officers, military personnel, and the like. My clients have included people in each of these professions. Some clients will not be able to get promotions or may get fired while on the CACI. These include everyone listed above. Some clients will not be able to continue volunteering at their children’s school or coach their children’s athletic teams (soccer, baseball, football, basketball, etc.) while on the CACI. Some clients will not be able to continue as a foster parent while on the CACI. Some clients will not be able to work at a day care, or their parents or spouses are no longer able to operate a day care while the client is living there. Some clients will not be able to adopt a child while on the CACI. Some clients simply do not want to be on the CACI, as a matter of principle, because they are not child abusers and do not want or deserve the stigma attached their name following them around for the rest of their lives. I have had clients hire me for ALL of the above reasons. But none of that really matters. Only one question matters: What’s your reason?
“What is your track record of success or your win percentage? How many CACI cases have you won?”
That’s a fair question, and I don’t mind you wondering about it. As of the moment I write this, I have a track record of success that spans for, I believe, just over 4 years. That means a 100% success rate in CACI Grievance Hearings over that time period, in every county in which I had a case. BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN I WILL/WOULD/COULD WIN YOUR CASE. EVERY CASE IS DIFFERENT, INCLUDING YOURS. I have to put that in all caps because it would be unethical for me to make you any promises or guarantees about your case. I never make promises about the outcomes of cases. My clients and I simply hunker down, do the work, put in the effort, keep a positive outlook, and in the end we know we’ve done our part to present the best possible case. So far, it’s worked out. I would love for you to experience the same result.
“Will I be better off hiring a local CACI lawyer?”
You will be better off hiring a lawyer who is extremely knowledgeable about the Child Abuse Central Index Grievance Hearing laws and procedures. That will ensure you have the best opportunity to achieve a successful outcome in your case. If you have any questions about this, I strongly encourage you to watch my 4-part video series about how to win your Grievance Hearing, which reveals your chances of winning a hearing without having a lawyer who is experienced with the unique legal issues in these types of cases.
“What if I can’t afford to hire a CACI lawyer?”
You only have two options: 1) hire a lawyer to represent you or 2) represent yourself. That’s it. The government will not appoint a lawyer (such as a public defender) to represent you. So if you already know you can’t afford to hire a lawyer, then I STRONGLY suggest you take my 4-part video series that will walk you through the exact steps I take when representing my clients. It will teach you how to win your case.
“What else can you tell me about yourself?”
I thought you’d never ask! I’m attorney Tate Lounsbery. I travel up and down California representing clients in CACI Grievance Hearings. It’s what I do. And it’s what I love. I’ve been able to help a lot of clients, and really LOVE that final day when, after months of hard work, we learn my clients have been vindicated and their names have been taken off the CACI. I am a husband, and a father to 2 young children. I can only imagine the horror my clients experience when being accused of child abuse. But I know, based on experience, the sweetness that comes to my clients when they have their name cleared. I want you to experience that feeling too.
When you hire me, you hire a lawyer who knows the child abuse laws inside and out. I have been invited to give presentations on child abuse laws to other attorneys, psychotherapists, educators, and the medical community. I have presented or lectured on child abuse laws at conferences by: Association of California School Administrators, Healthcare Financial Management Association, and California Head Start Association, and others.