DCF took kids without court order or warrant

Hi, I have a family member who has encountered DCF as a result of a domestic dispute with her husband. After the police filed the report, DCF got involved and put a safety plan in place for the mother and children so the father was not able to stay at the home or see the kids until they went to court and saw a judge. She moved into a new place with her children and had preciously informed the case worker that she was in the process of moving into her new home and provided all the information for this new home and that case worker said it was fine as long as the father respected the no contact order until the court date. Once she moved in to her home a new case worker contacted her and showed up 2 times unannounced and was being ugly and threatening if she didn't sign a new safety plan he would take the kids. She refused to comply and she exchanged words after the case worker called her "a shitty mother". So he showed up to the home without a warrant or court order and told my niece she would have to give the kids to him. When she refused, the case worker called the police to assist, 3 police officers arrived and allowed this case worker to remove the children from the home without a proper warrant or court order. My niece asked the police how they could let him do that and the case worker responded with "I'm DCF, I can do what I want". The very next day the case worker provided a signed court order from a judge and dated for the day after the kids were taken from the home. The case worker also mocked her and made a "crybaby" face at her when he was leaving with the kids. So like anyone would react she got mad and said a few words and the police officers pointed a taser at her and said if she didn't comply, they would, and I quote, "taser her in the f**king face".

Any advice towards this incident will be greatly appreciated. I have informed my niece that the best thing she can do is file a proper complaint against the case worker and the officers involved and to hire an attorney. She doesn't have the money for an attorney so the next best thing would be a court appointed attorney. I just want to make sure she doesn't get chewed up in the system and lose her kids because this case worker took it to a personal level and has possibly been souly responsible for the separation of more families over his personal feelings getting the best of him. Most of which are probably experiencing the same kind of treatment, just not educated on their rights fully or brave enough to stand up to them.
If she feels she was treated unprofessional she can make a complaint about the DCF and police officer behavior at their respective departments. A written complaint is best and they will have a specific form they like you to use.

As for the kids, it is not uncommon to not have the order in possession at the time the kids are removed. The procedure is likely different by jurisdiction, but typically a petition is filled out when the kids are removed that justifies their temporary placement. Later a judge reviews the petition and approves it or denies it, but during the interim there is no wrong doing if pepper circumstances for removal appeared to be present.
Sometimes an order is received in advance. It depends on time of day, day of the week, and whether a judge is available.
The removal of the kids was likely legitimate, but the behavior of the DCF worker and police officer can certainly be reported

As for attorneys, if she isn't being charged with a crime she won't be getting a court appointed attorney, but there is help available.
She doesn't have the money for an attorney so the next best thing would be a court appointed attorney.

If your child is in immediate danger and it is also determined that the use of in-home services would not ensure your child's safety in the home, the investigator will place your child in the home of a relative, close friend, or in the care of a licensed out of home caregiver.

A court hearing will be held within 24 hours so a judge can decide whether your child should be returned home or continued in the temporary care and custody of the department.

If your child is placed outside your home, the judge will establish visitation rights.

This will include who is allowed to see the child, and whether visits should be supervised.

You may visit and talk with your child as provided by the judge.

Depending upon the agencies in your area, either the child protective investigator or a case manager from
your local community-based care agency will arrange the time and place for visits and calls between you and your child

Your friend MUST locate those agencies and ask for assistance, guidance, and suggestions.


You may have a lawyer represent you at any point during the investigation. If you choose to delay your interview with the investigator in order to be represented by a lawyer, the investigator will continue to gather information from other persons, including family members.

You may (and you SHOULD) video or audio tape your interview with the protective investigator, using your own equipment. If you have a cell phone, you HAVE the equipment.

If your child is removed from your home, you have the right to obtain an attorney, to be heard, and present evidence at the shelter hearing.

You can contact DCF at 1-866-728-8445 or go to www.my211florida.org for more information.

Help for you, maybe:

Dependency Process | Office of Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel - First District, Florida

Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF) Attorney - Child Abuse Lawyer | Child Advocate Lawyer

Changing Florida Law - Helping Children AND Families


Here is what DCF says a person can do to request a STATE APPOINTED LAWYER and a COURT HEARING:

Here are the thoughts of several FL licensed attorneys (and a few legal assistance sites), you and your relative should read what these lawyers have to say:

Overview for Parents in a Florida Dependency - Guides - Avvo

Parental Rights

New Port Richey FL Child Custody Attorney | Parenting Plan Lawyer | Pasco County Visitation Attorney

DCF Dependency Cases Attorney Orlando | DeVoe Law Firm

Dependency | The Fletcher Law Firm

Good luck, make sure you request a court appointed lawyer ASAP.

Make sure you request a formal court hearing, not a kangaroo hearing before the very people who snatched your child.

If you allow that, its akin to being arrested by the police and being tried by the Chief of Police, rather than the courts in your state.