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Welfare and Institutions Code 300 Petition: What You Should Know to Help Fight Your Juvenile Dependency Case

August 21, 2022

Welfare and Institutions Code 300 Petition: Everything You Need to Know - Juvenile Dependency

Welfare and Institutions Code 300 Petition: What You Should Know to Help Fight Your Juvenile Dependency Case

If you are a parent in California and your child has been taken away by the government, you may be wondering what is happening and what to do next. This blog post will explain what a WIC 300 Petition is and what to expect in a Juvenile Dependency case.

What is a WIC 300 Petition?

A Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) 300 Petition is a legal document filed in California requesting that a juvenile be placed under the juvenile court’s jurisdiction.

The Petition states that child abuse or neglect allegations violating Section 300 of the Welfare and Institutions Code have been discovered by the social worker or law enforcement.

Examples of violations of WIC 300 include:

  • A parent who fails to provide their child with food, shelter, or clothing
  • A parent who physically abuses their child
  • A parent who is addicted to drugs or alcohol and does not provide proper care for their child
  • A parent who neglects their child’s medical needs
  • A parent who allows their child to be around someone who has a history of child abuse
  • A parent who sexually abuses their child
  • A parent who allows their child to be around domestic violence

Who Writes the WIC 300 Petition?

The Petition is written by the social worker in the county welfare department (CPS, DCFS, CWS, DFS, CFS) or local law enforcement and must be based on one of the grounds specified in Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) section 300.

What Evidence is Used for the Allegations listed in a WIC 300 Petition?

The proof you need to gather depends on the accusation being investigated.  According to the Child Welfare Services Policy Manuel, this evidence can include: 

  • Risk to the child
  • Photographs of injuries/conditions
  • Detailed descriptions of injuries/conditions
  • Each witness’s version of what occurred before, during, and after the child was injured/neglected
  • Explanations of the injuries by anyone who has that information
  • Reports/expert testimony of medical specialists that an injury was inflicted or accidental
  • Reason(s) that a parent’s/caregiver’s explanation of an injury being accidental is either not consistent with the evidence or puts the child at risk (neglect)
  • Expert testimony/opinions as to the potential danger or detriment to the child
  • Evidence of prior incidents of a similar nature by the parent or caregiver regarding this child or another child
  • Statements of the child, parents/caregivers, and witnesses to the social worker and others
  • Police reports
  • Medical reports
  • Results of the evidentiary examination
  • Expert testimony of the person who did the evidentiary interview, including the recording of it
  • Testimony of law enforcement regarding statements made by suspects

Even though every situation requires evidence of danger to the child, not every element below will apply in each case. 

What Happens After a WIC 300 Petition is Filed?

Once the WIC 300 Petition is filed with the Juvenile Court, a hearing is scheduled within 24 to 48 hours. The hearing is called a Detention Hearing.

What Happens at a Detention Hearing?

At the Detention Hearing, the judge decides whether there is enough evidence of abuse or neglect to keep the child in foster care or juvenile hall pending further investigation.

The Detention Hearing is not a trial. 

The burden of proof is lower than in a criminal case. The standard is whether there is a “preponderance of the evidence” that the child has been abused or neglected. 

This standard means that it is more likely than not that the child has been abused or neglected.

If the judge decides there is enough evidence, the child will be kept in foster care or juvenile hall. If the judge decides that there is not enough evidence, the child will be returned home.

What Happens After the Detention Hearing?

If the child is kept in foster care or juvenile hall, there will be a Jurisdiction and Disposition Hearing within 30 days. 

What Happens at the Jurisdiction and Disposition Hearing?

At the Jurisdiction and Disposition Hearing, the judge will decide whether there is enough evidence to support the WIC 300 Petition. If the judge decides there is enough evidence, the child will be declared a dependent of the Juvenile Court.

The judge will also decide what kind of services the family needs and what the goals of the case will be. For example, the judge may order the child to be placed in a foster home, with a relative, or in some other out-of-home placement. The judge may also order that the family participate in counseling, drug treatment, or parenting classes.

The goal of the Juvenile Dependency Court is to protect children and to help families so that the children can be returned home safely.

Do Parents and the Child(ren) Have the Same Lawyer?

No. In Juvenile Dependency Court, the parents and the child(ren) have different lawyers. The lawyer for the parent is called the Father’s Attorney or the Mother’s Attorney. The lawyer for the child is called the “Minor’s Counsel.”

Can a WIC 300 Petition be Dismissed?

Yes. A WIC 300 Petition can be dismissed anytime during the Juvenile Dependency Court process. 

The Petition may be dismissed if the social worker decides that the allegations are not true or if the family completes all of the services ordered by the court and the social worker believes that the child can safely return home.

How Do I Fight a WIC 300 Petition?

If you have been accused of abuse or neglect, it is crucial to get an attorney as soon as possible.

If you are are facing allegations of abuse or neglect, or have an open dependency case, it is crucial to understand your rights in juvenile dependency cases.

You deserve to have a lawyer who will help you fight to get your children back. If you are dealing with a juvenile dependency case, DCFS case, or CPS case in Orange County, California, or Southern California, you need the juvenile dependency attorneys at ALL Trial Lawyers by your side.

Don’t risk calling the wrong lawyer.

We know how the juvenile court process in California works. We have handled hundreds of juvenile dependency cases in Orange CountySan Diego CountyLos Angeles CountySan Bernardino County,  and Riverside County.

We have an office located near you, and we’re ready to start working on your case.

Call us now to speak to a lawyer and for your free consultation. Call (866) 811-4255.

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