DSS Emergency Removal: The 72-Hour Probable Cause Hearing

When children are removed from an emergency basis from their parents/guardians the Court is required to hold a probable cause hearing within 72 hours of removal where DSS has to prove that it had probable cause at the time of removal and that probable cause still exists at the time of the hearing such that it is necessary to keep custody of the children.  This hearing comes very fast and in most instances, parents attend the hearing without a lawyer.  I don’t know if this is because they can’t afford representation or they just don’t know what their rights are.  In the event you are unable to find an attorney to go the 72-hour Probable Cause hearing with you hear are a few quick tips that will hopefully help prepare you a little bit:

The 72-hour probable cause hearing is similar to a preliminary hearing in criminal court.  That means you often do not have time to obtain a lawyer so the hearing is typically skewed against you and because DSS’s burden of proof is extremely low things generally do not change at this type of hearing.

The hearing will be very fast – probably less than 15 minutes.  The judge’s job in this hearing is to consider whether DSS had probable cause at the time of removal and that probable cause still exists such that it is necessary for DSS to retain placement of the children.

At this hearing you and your family will not be allowed to testify.  The DSS caseworker and/or investigator will describe the case to the judge.  Your will have an opportunity to cross-examine the caseworker/investigator.

You also have the right to submit affidavits on your behalf to the judge that would essentially be your testimony.  Here is your opportunity to put your side of the story out there for the judge.

After this hearing you will typically be appointed counsel if you can’t afford to hire an attorney and a Guardian ad Litem will be appointed to represent your children and a merits hearing will be scheduled where DSS will present a treatment plan for you and where you will be able to contest the removal of your children further.


  1. David Williams says:

    you probably can’t represent me but, hopefully you can point me to SOMEONE that I can go to that will help me with my DSS problem. Before I get started I would like to say that everything that I say in this email, I have paperwork to back it up and witnesses to collaborate everything I said. Now lets begin, Jan, 2010, my ex wife was incarcerated for distribution of crack cocaine and was sentence 5years. I pick my two kids up from there uncle’s where they was staying, at that time they was 14,girl and 12 boy and brought them to my house to live while there mother was serving time, my 14 year old was dating a 17 year old boy and I disapproved. So she called the police twice and they came out and told them that they had to stay. the next morning my 14yearold was gone, later the cops came and told me that she was at school and told the resource officer that I hit her, the resource officer called the county police and I was arrested not for her accusation, but for a child support warrant and took my son back to there uncles house. I sat in jail 1 day and was released because the mother was incarcerated. the same day there was a shooting at their uncle house where they had lived. DSS put them in protective custody, just the 12 and 14 year old; which they have 2 more sisters living in the house. We went to court and they put them in protective custody because we left them in a unsafe environment, they have been in custody since then and to make matters worse, now my 14 who’s now 15 has a baby from the same guy that I was trying to protect her from, while in DSS custody. that’s not everything that they did. I didn’t want to put it all in the email. If you could help please because there are two kids out here that DSS has ruined their lives and DSS will not amitt to it, or let my kids go home, they have split my son and daughter up in different counties, 1 in horry and the other in Georgetown county….. Please help…… just give me advice…………… I had to take a anger management test and passed from there representive and she wrote me a wonderful letter telling them that I would be a supportive parent. give me advice, tell me it’s nothing I can do, just tell me something because it’s eating me up bad

    Thank you so much.

  2. Cindy and Shawn says:

    First of all I fell asleep while driving and our daughter was in the car and was not injured. We had been camping and my daughter and I went into town to get some breakfast to cook at the camp. There were no drugs, violence or any other concern involved. Children services came up with all these stories which they were unable to verify. We went thru all the requests they told us to do including jumping thru hoops meanwhile our daughter who has NEVER been apart from us was staying with her cousin. In the end of course we had to sign over our rights, they said we had no choice. This was about 4 years ago and we see her, she wants to come home and we want her back so bad it hurts. My number one question is if there are so many children in foster care why are they hurting families that do not deserve this and number two how do I get her back?? There has got to be something that can be done!!! We do not drink, we do not do drugs and we are a very loving family. We never had the 72 hour hearing, I was just told to sign a form that she would be staying with my fiances niece who in turn adopted her. Why can they wreck good homes and ruin peoples lives?? I will not give up until I have her back. Any suggestions?? She’s 9 now.

Speak Your Mind