CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES
The Child Protective Services Division of the Montgomery County Attorney’s Office is committed to ensuring the protection of our most vulnerable citizens, the children of Montgomery County. We serve as legal advisors to the local Texas Department of Family & Protective Services (TDFPS) office and provide civil legal litigation services every day. Our attorneys are highly involved in all aspects of a CPS case, from the filing of the paperwork necessary to remove a child from an unsafe environment, to attending hearings, trials, mediation, depositions, answering and responding to discovery, and multiple meetings with caseworkers and experts in preparation of going to Court. We understand the importance of having pleadings timely filed, and hearings timely held, as failure to do so could result in an abused child not being removed from an abusive situation as soon as possible.
Our number one priority is to act in the best interest of the children. Our team works closely with our local TDFPS so that together we can detect, investigate, and prosecute offending parties that have engaged in the abuse of a child. When a case is initiated, we closely monitor the offending party to ensure that they are in compliance with the required services and assistance that the TDFPS requires. This is important as failure to closely monitor compliance could result in a child being returned home where abuse is likely to continue or even escalate. Every child deserves to be raised in a home with love, understanding, patience, and security.
State law requires all reports of abuse and neglect be made through the Texas Abuse Hotline. When you make a report, you will be asked to designate whether your report involves a child (CPS) or an adult (APS). Reports can be made to the Texas Abuse Hotline either by telephone or on-line. The telephone number is (800) 252-5400 and the website is https://www.txabusehotline.org.
The Litigation Division represents the County, its elected officials and its employees (including its law enforcement officers) in all civil (non-criminal) lawsuits and claims involving the County or its elected officials and employees in their official capacities. Attorneys in the Litigation Division appear in many federal and state courts ranging from the local Justices of the Peace to the United States Supreme Court.
Our attorneys regularly represent the County and elected and appointed law enforcement officers in federal lawsuits filed by jail prisoners & detainees and others against claims of excessive force or other “violations of constitutional rights”. We vigorously defend such lawsuits by seeking dismissal of the lawsuits at the earliest possible stage in order to prevent the waste of valuable time, effort and money of County law enforcement officers and officials.
The Litigation Division handles other civil claims filed by and against the County such as automobile collisions, personal injuries, property damage, employment disputes, challenges to County ordinances and all other matters in which the County or its elected officials are sued or required to appear in court.
Attorneys in the Litigation Division regularly work with law enforcement to seize and remove animals from situations where the animals are being mistreated. For example, our attorneys worked with other departments to successfully remove more than 200 horses from a situation in which the horses were malnourished and lacked proper care. The Litigation Division also represents the County Animal Control Department to remove dangerous dogs and other animals from the community.
The Litigation Division also represents the County in involuntary mental health commitment proceedings in order to obtain treatment for individuals needing mental health treatment. Additionally, our attorneys represent individuals seeking protective orders in situations where family violence has occurred.
The Government Affairs Division of the Montgomery County Attorney’s Office provides general legal services for Montgomery County’s daily operations and gives legal advice and assistance to all County officials and employees. Members of this division attend meetings of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court and various County boards and committees in order to provide general legal assistance, as well as to provide both formal and informal legal opinions and advice to members of Commissioners Court and other County officials relating to the performance of their official duties. Further, our attorneys provide advice and prepare County policies and procedures for County officials. We provide assistance to County departments and elected officials to ensure compliance with all applicable rules, regulations, and statutes.
The division is also responsible for drafting, reviewing, and negotiating proposed contracts and the procurement process and administration. The Government Affairs Division also supports County legislative initiatives by drafting proposed legislation and advising Commissioners Court and County officials regarding other proposed and recently enacted legislation affecting the County. This division also advises all County departments, when requested, regarding Texas Public Information Act requests.
Frequently the attorneys in this division represent and advise Montgomery County elected and appointed officials in all aspects of the employee-employer relationship. In addition to assisting with state and federal employment litigation, attorneys handle matters before the Montgomery County Civil Service Commission, as well as administrative agencies such as the Department of Labor, the Texas Workforce Commission, the EEOC, and the State Office of Administrative Hearings.
The Juvenile Division is responsible for prosecuting all felony offenses and Class A and B misdemeanor offenses committed by children ten (10) years of age or older and under the age of seventeen (17). These include homicides, sexual offenses, burglaries, assaults, and drug offenses. All such prosecutions are brought in the Montgomery County Juvenile Court.
In contrast with adult prosecutions, in which a defendant is convicted of a crime upon a finding of guilt, the juvenile system adjudicates a child for an act of delinquency upon a finding of true. This difference in terminology is intended to reflect the difference in approach between the adult and juvenile justice systems. The Texas Legislature has designed our juvenile law to favor the rehabilitation of children whenever possible, and avoiding the stigma associated with adult criminal proceedings is part of that effort. In furtherance of that objective, the Juvenile Division approaches each case with the goal of seeking the child’s rehabilitation, while balancing the need to protect society. When it appears that rehabilitative efforts will be a waste of county resources and the public cannot be protected so long as the juvenile remains in the community, punishment with incarceration becomes the primary focus. The County Attorney’s Office works very closely with the Juvenile Probation Department in determining the best course of action in each case.
Once adjudicated for an act of delinquency, a juvenile can be subject to a disposition ranging from probation up to a 40-year determinate sentence to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD), depending on the nature of the offense. A determinate sentence allows the Juvenile Court to require that the juvenile fulfill the complete term of the sentence, with the incarceration or parole transferring to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) at any time between the ages of 16 and 19. In particularly egregious cases, or cases in which the juvenile has already reached the age of 18 since committing the offense, the County Attorney’s Office will petition the Juvenile Court to transfer the case to a District Court for prosecution as an adult from the outset.
The Juvenile Division also handles all post-adjudication proceedings that may arise, including appeals, sex offender registration hearings, and applications to seal records.
The County Attorney’s Office has two full-time juvenile prosecutors and a part-time prosecutor dedicated to handling the juvenile Drug Court. The Juvenile Division is further staffed by a legal assistant, an investigator, and the office’s Victim-Witness Coordinator. On average, the division handles over 1,200 cases per year.
The Real Estate Division assists and advises the County Commissioners and many County departments with regard to real estate issues and the acquisition, use, maintenance and disposition of real estate owned by Montgomery County.
Attorneys in the Real Estate Division represent the County in acquiring road right-of-ways for improving transportation and real estate for use by the County for its various departments and elected offices. When right-of-way or other real estate cannot be acquired by agreement, the attorneys in the Real Estate Division represent the County in acquiring the property by eminent domain proceedings.
In addition to property acquisitions, the attorneys with the Real Estate Division review and approve subdivision plats for accuracy and compliance with state laws and the County’s ordinances. The Division prepares leases and conveyances for County owned property and property leased by Montgomery County. Attorneys in the Real Estate Division prepare and review agreements between Montgomery County and other political subdivisions such as cities, road districts and drainage districts to expand roadways or governmental services. The attorneys prepare and review easements, right-of-ways, dedication instruments, deeds and other documents by which the County acquires or uses real estate. The Real Estate Division also enforces the flood plain regulations and pursues environmental health nuisance abatements, and building & septic permit violations. The attorneys in the Real Estate Division work closely with the County Engineer’s department in seeking compliance with standards for construction of roads and in bringing roads into the County road maintenance system.
The Real Estate Division attorneys also work with County officials and outside counsel regarding specific County projects and related entities such as the Mental Health Treatment Facility and the Montgomery County Toll Road Authority.