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6000 Evidence Collection

APS February 2021

APS collects evidence for the following reasons:

  • To determine whether abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation happened.
  • To determine the nature, extent, and root cause of the abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.
  • To identify problems and factors that put the alleged victim’s health or safety at risk.

How APS Collects Evidence

The APS specialist collects evidence in the following ways:

  • Interviewing people likely to have current and reliable information about the allegations or the alleged victim’s situation.
  • Requesting copies of relevant documents or records (such as from law enforcement, banks, or physicians) within 10 calendar days of either a successful initial face-to-face contact with the alleged victim or a supervisor consultation if the alleged victim has refused to cooperate.
  • Taking photos of physical evidence (injuries, environments, and so on).
  • Drawing diagrams, such as of the layout of an alleged victim’s home.
  • Collecting additional evidence when requested by APS state office, the district director, program administrator, supervisor, or DFPS attorney.

Situations When Others May Use the Tablet PC

The APS specialist may obtain written statements, release forms, and diagrams using a hard copy of the document or electronically using the tablet PC. These documents may be signed electronically on the tablet or printed and signed in the presence of the APS specialist.

The APS specialist lists any documents, hard copy or electronic, on the External Documentation page.

See:

6121 Interviewing an Alleged Victim or Client

6110 Written Statements

6100 Testimonial Evidence

6300 Demonstrative Evidence

6400 Documentary Evidence

9600 Supervisor Consultations

16220 Maintenance of External Case Files

How APS Uses Evidence

The APS specialist thoroughly investigates and uses professional judgment to determine when APS has collected enough evidence to reach an accurate conclusion about the following:

  • Validity of the allegations.
  • Need for protective services.
  • Alleged victim’s overall safety (for example, safe, conditionally safe, or unsafe).
  • Root cause of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.

When necessary, the APS specialist resolves discrepancies in evidence in any of the following ways:

  • Re-interviewing principals or collaterals.
  • Interviewing new collaterals.
  • Gathering new documentary or demonstrative evidence.

The APS specialist consults with the subject matter expert (SME) as necessary when evidence is unavailable or difficult to collect.

See 9700 Subject Matter Expert (SME) Consultations.

Types of Evidence

Evidence APS collects includes, but is not limited to, the types described in the table below.

Type of Evidence

Description and Examples

6100 Testimonial Evidence

Verbal and written statements from the following:

  • The alleged victim or client
  • The alleged perpetrator
  • Collaterals

6200 Physical Evidence

Evidence that can be seen or touched, such as the following:

  • Objects
  • Injuries
  • Living environments

6300 Demonstrative Evidence

Images or recordings that capture physical evidence, such as the following:

  • Photos
  • Diagrams
  • Maps
  • Audio and video

6400 Documentary Evidence

Paper and electronic records, such as the following:

  • Business records
  • Legal papers
  • Medical files
  • Bank statements
  • Letters
  • Computer files
  • IMPACT records (DFPS case history)
  • Criminal history records

6100 Testimonial Evidence

APS February 2021

During the investigation, APS collects testimonial evidence to assess the alleged victim’s overall situation and risk. A thorough investigation and assessment through observations and interviews helps APS make the investigative finding and supports the conclusion justification at the end of the investigation. See 8000 APS Investigations.

6110 Written Statements

APS February 2021

APS may take written statements from alleged victims, alleged perpetrators, or collaterals when necessary to strengthen investigations. Written statements may be helpful in cases that APS is considering for referral to the Employee Misconduct Registry (EMR).

APS case records are available upon written request to certain people, including the alleged victim and the alleged victim’s guardian, after APS completes the investigation and DFPS de-identifies the records. The alleged perpetrator and collaterals interviewed during the investigation are only entitled to the portion of the record that relates to that person’s interview.

If a collateral or alleged perpetrator wants a copy of his or her written statement, the APS specialist provides him or her with instructions for requesting a copy of the record from the Records Management Group (RMG).

See 16111 Individuals and Entities Entitled to the Case Record.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §705.1907

Obtaining Written Statements

Before obtaining written statements, the APS specialist may consult with the subject matter expert (SME) to determine whether written statements are necessary for the investigation, and from whom the APS specialist should seek to obtain a written statement.

The APS specialist uses Form H-700-2268a APS In-Home Investigations Statement to obtain a written statement. The directions for completing the form are on the form.

See 9700 Subject Matter Expert (SME) Consultations.

6120 Interviews

APS February 2021

Human Resources Code §48.152 requires APS investigations to include interviews with the alleged victim, if appropriate, and with people who are thought to have knowledge of the circumstances.

APS interviews all appropriate people, including reporters, alleged victims, alleged perpetrators, witnesses, medical staff, and others who have knowledge of allegations and alleged victims’ situations.

Documentation for Interviews

The APS specialist does as follows for each interview:

  • Makes sure the person’s name and contact information are on the Person List page.
  • Enters the entity or agency the person works for (such as law enforcement, a home and community support services agency, or a medical office), if applicable, in the Comment field on the Person Detail page.
  • Documents the content of each contact, including narrative information, in a Contact Detail page.

See 9000 Case Contacts.

6121 Interviewing an Alleged Victim or Client

APS February 2021

During APS investigations, APS specialists interview persons age 65 or older and adults with disabilities who are alleged to be in a state of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation to investigate the case and thoroughly assess alleged victims’ overall situations.

When interviewing the alleged victim or client, the APS specialist does as follows:

  • Requests to interview the alleged victim or client alone at the initial face-to-face contact in all cases, but allows the alleged victim or client to have another person present upon the alleged victim’s or client’s request. This may include the alleged perpetrator if the alleged victim or client insists.
  • Addresses all important factors about the allegations and the alleged victim’s or client’s overall situation.
  • Re-interviews the alleged victim or client, if necessary to resolve discrepancies between any interviews in the case.

The APS specialist makes every effort to conduct the initial face-to-face interview with only the alleged victim present.

In the case of phone calls to the alleged victim or follow-up contacts with the client, the specialist makes every effort to conduct the contact with the alleged victim’s or client’s privacy and safety in mind.

The APS specialist documents in IMPACT whether he or she interviewed the alleged victim or client alone or whether another person was present at the alleged victim’s or client’s request. If another person was present for the interview, the APS specialist documents the following:

  • The reason why another person was present.
  • The person’s relationship to the alleged victim or client.

The APS specialist monitors the alleged victim or client during the interview to see whether he or she appears hesitant, withdrawn, or nervous. Such cues may indicate that the alleged victim or client is not comfortable speaking openly in the presence of the other person.

6121.1 Permission to Enter the Home

APS February 2021

Throughout the case, the APS specialist must obtain specific permission from an adult who lives in the home before entering the home where the interviewee lives. Examples may include a verbal response or a resident opening the door for the APS specialist to enter.

If the person who answers the door is not an adult or does not live there, he or she does not have the authority to consent to entry.

A manager or home owner who does not live in the home does not have the authority to consent to entry.

The APS specialist documents the identity of the person who granted specific permission to enter the home on the Contact Detail page in IMPACT.

6121.11 Denial or Revocation of Permission to Enter

APS February 2021

The APS specialist does not enter the home if permission is denied, and the specialist does not remain in the home if permission is revoked after it was initially granted. This applies even if the denial or revocation comes from someone other than the alleged victim or client, such as a caretaker, other resident, or family member.

The APS specialist may attempt to use verbal persuasion to gain permission to enter or remain in the home. However, if this is unsuccessful, the APS specialist must not enter the home, or must leave the home if already inside.

The APS specialist documents the identity of the person who denied or revoked the permission on the Contact Detail page in IMPACT.

Law enforcement may be present as a safety precaution for the APS specialist when the alleged victim, client, or other person refuses to grant entry or asks the APS specialist to leave the home. The APS specialist cannot rely on law enforcement to gain entry into the home.

The APS specialist is required to leave the home or to refrain from entering if any adult who lives in the home asks the specialist to do so.

Help with Permission to Enter

Once permission to enter has been denied or revoked, the APS specialist seeks help in getting permission to enter or return to the home from a family member or friend of the alleged victim or client.

If this fails, the APS specialist consults with the supervisor and regional attorney to determine whether it is appropriate to seek an order for court-authorized entry or an order against interference with an investigation.

See:

9600 Supervisor Consultations

13120 Consulting With Regional Attorneys

Emergencies Requiring Entry

The APS specialist uses judgment to determine whether an emergency exists that requires contacting law enforcement or other emergency personnel to gain entry or to remain in the home. The APS specialist bases the decision on what he or she observes when being refused entry or asked to leave.

The APS specialist may enter without a court order in an emergency for the purpose of preserving life, when both of the following apply:

  • The APS specialist has reason to believe that the alleged victim or client is alone and is in a life-threatening situation.
  • There is no one available to give consent.

Before entering in this situation, the APS specialist must do as follows:

  • Call 911.
  • Notify a supervisor about the actions he or she intends to take.

See:

7110 APS Access to a Ward

8210 Alleged Victim Refuses to Cooperate With APS Investigation

13200 Court-Authorized Entry

13400 Interference With Investigation or Protective Services

6121.2 Transportation for an Alleged Victim or Client

APS February 2021

The APS specialist may arrange transportation for an alleged victim or client when he or she has no means of transportation and either of the following applies:

  • The alleged victim or client would be more comfortable being interviewed in a different setting.
  • The alleged victim or client has an appointment that is necessary to assess or ensure his or her health or well-being, such as a medical appointment.

In these situations, the APS specialist seeks transportation for the alleged victim or client from sources that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Family and friends of the alleged victim or client.
  • Public transportation.
  • Medicaid transportation.
  • Taxi services.
  • Transportation services through community agencies, where available.

The APS specialist only transports an alleged victim or client in the APS specialist’s vehicle when all of the following apply:

  • The APS specialist has consulted with the supervisor about the transportation.
  • There are no other means of transportation available.
  • There are no safety concerns.
  • The alleged victim or client is clearly willing and capable of giving consent. If an alleged victim or client has a legal guardian, the guardian must give consent.

If the alleged victim or client is unwilling, lacks capacity to consent, or has a legal guardian who refuses consent, the APS specialist reconsiders whether the alternate interview site or appointment is necessary. If the APS specialist still believes it is necessary, the APS specialist consults with the supervisor about possible alternatives.

If a guardian or caretaker prevents the alleged victim or client from being transported, the APS specialist, with supervisor approval, consults with the regional attorney about seeking a court order against interference with an investigation or service provision.

See:

5340 Transportation of Clients Who Do Not Have Valid Immigration Documents

7110 APS Access to a Ward

9600 Supervisor Consultations

13400 Interference With Investigation or Protective Services

13120 Consulting With Regional Attorneys

6121.3 Undue Influence

APS February 2021

Undue influence is the improper use of power or trust in a way that deprives a person of free will and substitutes another’s objective.

Black’s Law Dictionary (Seventh Edition)

APS considers whether undue influence from alleged perpetrators or others is causing an alleged victim’s refusal to cooperate with an APS investigation or a client’s refusal of protective services. An alleged victim or client who has the capacity to consent to or refuse protective services can still be unduly influenced.

Behavioral patterns that may indicate someone is experiencing undue influence include, for example, the following:

  • Physical or mental dependency on the perpetrator.
  • Isolation from social contacts or information.
  • Emotional manipulation by the perpetrator.
  • Surrender of control of finances or property to the perpetrator.

It is difficult to validate an allegation of financial exploitation when the disposition is only based on undue influence, especially when the alleged perpetrator is a family member of the alleged victim.

Procedure for Cases That May Involve Undue Influence

To determine whether the alleged victim or client is voluntarily refusing to cooperate with APS, or is refusing because of undue influence from the alleged perpetrator or others, the APS specialist does the following:

  • Initiates the case with someone other than the alleged victim.
  • Does not interview the alleged victim or client by phone during the course of the investigation, because the alleged perpetrator may be in the room during the conversation and become angry with the alleged victim or client for speaking with the APS specialist.
  • Makes sure the alleged victim or client has the opportunity to speak with the APS specialist in a safe environment and the alleged perpetrator is not nearby.
  • Attempts to develop rapport with the alleged victim or client.
  • Attempts to help the alleged victim or client see his or her relationship with the alleged perpetrator in a different way.
  • Attempts to involve family or friends in an effort to decrease the alleged victim or client’s isolation.
  • Observes the alleged victim or client for indications of fear, nervousness, or any other signs indicating discomfort with the discussion.
  • Offers all possible alternatives for protective services.
  • Makes sure the alleged victim or client understands his or her situation and the right to refuse to cooperate with the investigation or accept protective services.
  • Assesses for indicators that the alleged victim or client may lack the capacity to consent to protective services.
  • Notifies law enforcement if the APS specialist, supervisor, or subject matter expert (SME) has cause to believe the abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation is a criminal offense under any law.

See:

8210 Alleged Victim Refuses to Cooperate With APS Investigation

10310 Assessing Indicators (Signs) of a Lack of Capacity to Consent

10330 Seeking Medical or Mental Health Evaluations

12110 Alleged Victim Dies Before the Initial Face-to-Face Is Completed

6122 Interviewing an Alleged Perpetrator

APS February 2021

The APS specialist interviews the alleged perpetrator to collect important information and develop a complete understanding of the situation.

The APS specialist interviews the alleged perpetrator no later than 10 calendar days after one of the following case actions (or after the latest of these, if more than one occurs):

  • The successful initial face-to-face contact with the alleged victim.
  • The successful interview with the alleged victim.
  • The supervisor consultation when the alleged victim has refused to cooperate with the investigation.

The alleged perpetrator has a right to have an attorney present during interviews.

The APS specialist does as follows:

  • Makes all reasonable attempts to interview the alleged perpetrator.
  • Sends a letter (Form 2255 Alleged Perpetrator Request for Interview) if attempts to contact the alleged perpetrator are unsuccessful.
  • Gets the help of a secondary APS specialist if the alleged perpetrator lives in a different county.
  • Tells the alleged perpetrator there are allegations against him or her and what those allegations are.
  • Consults with the regional attorney if the alleged perpetrator requests for his or her attorney to be present during the interview.
  • Avoids preconceived ideas about the allegations when interviewing the alleged perpetrator.
  • Interacts with the alleged perpetrator in an objective and professional manner.
  • Addresses all important factors related to all allegations and the alleged victim’s overall situation.
  • Re-interviews the alleged perpetrator, as necessary, to resolve any new or remaining discrepancies between any interviews in the case.
  • Builds a working relationship with the alleged perpetrator.

See:

9400 Initial Face-to-Face Contact With the Alleged Victim

8210 Alleged Victim Refuses to Cooperate With APS Investigation

15100 Desk Review

When Interviewing an Alleged Perpetrator Is Not Required

The APS specialist is not required to interview the alleged perpetrator when one or more of the following apply:

  • The alleged perpetrator does not respond to the APS specialist’s attempts to arrange an interview.
  • The alleged perpetrator refuses to be interviewed.
  • Law enforcement or prosecuting attorneys request to delay or refrain from interviewing the alleged perpetrator because of an ongoing criminal investigation or pending prosecution.
  • APS cannot locate the alleged perpetrator.
  • The alleged perpetrator is a minor, and the parent or guardian refuses to allow an interview.
  • The APS specialist has reason to believe that interviewing the alleged perpetrator would place the alleged victim in danger of serious physical or emotional harm.

If the APS specialist decides not to interview the alleged perpetrator, the APS specialist does as follows:

  • Consults with the supervisor within 10 calendar days after completing one of the following case actions (or after the latest of these, if more than one occurs):
    • The successful initial face-to-face contact with the alleged victim.
    • A successful face-to-face interview with the alleged victim.
    • A consultation with the supervisor because the alleged victim has refused to cooperate with the investigation.
  • Documents this consultation with the supervisor.

Determining a Disposition Without Interviewing the Alleged Perpetrator

When the APS specialist does not complete the alleged perpetrator interview for any of the reasons above, the APS specialist weighs all available evidence to determine whether there is a preponderance of the evidence to support a finding.

See:

6124 Interviewing a Minor

8600 Determination of Findings in an Investigation

8210 Alleged Victim Refuses to Cooperate With APS Investigation

9600 Supervisor Consultations

Request by Law Enforcement or Prosecuting Attorneys Not to Interview the Alleged Perpetrator

Sometimes law enforcement or prosecuting attorneys request that APS not interview the alleged perpetrator, or do the interview later, because of an ongoing criminal investigation or pending prosecution. When this happens, the APS specialist documents this request in IMPACT and includes all required information as outlined in 6123.3 Interviewing Law Enforcement.

The APS specialist uses all available evidence to reach a finding, including any discussions with law enforcement about statements that the alleged perpetrator has made. The APS specialist may include these statements in the APS investigation instead of interviewing the alleged perpetrator.

The APS specialist may close the investigation without interviewing the alleged perpetrator if both of the following apply:

  • It appears that the delay will be longer than three months.
  • The supervisor has approved the decision not to interview the alleged perpetrator, and the APS specialist has documented the approval.

See 15110 Designated Perpetrators Ineligible for a Desk Review.

6123 Interviewing a Collateral

APS February 2021

APS interviews all appropriate people who APS thinks have knowledge of the alleged victim’s situation, in order to collect evidence and assess the alleged victim’s overall situation and risk.

When interviewing these collaterals, APS makes sure to protect the alleged victim’s privacy and confidentiality. See 16121 Case Information to the Reporter and Collaterals.

The APS specialist thoroughly interviews (and, as appropriate, re-interviews) all appropriate collaterals for all of the following reasons:

  • To determine whether the allegations are valid.
  • To understand the alleged victim’s overall situation and risk.
  • To resolve discrepancies in evidence.

When interviewing a collateral, the APS specialist does the following:

  • Addresses all important factors related to the allegations and the alleged victim’s overall situation.
  • Explores risk to the alleged victim’s health and safety.
  • Questions the collateral further to clear up discrepancies.
  • Re-interviews the collateral, as necessary, to resolve discrepancies.

See 9000 Case Contacts.

6123.1 Interviewing the Reporter

APS February 2021

As soon as possible, APS interviews people who report abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation of persons age 65 or older and adults with disabilities for the following reasons:

  • To clarify information given at intake.
  • To collect additional information about allegations and alleged victims’ overall situations.

Interviewing the reporter as one of the first interviews during the investigation may help to do the following:

  • Determine whether the intake report adequately captures the reporter’s concerns.
  • Prevent the need to re-interview principals and collaterals to address concerns that were not initially included in the intake.

APS case-related information is confidential. Unless otherwise entitled to case records, reporters of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation are only given case information that is necessary for the following purposes:

  • To confirm whether APS will accept the allegations for investigation.
  • To collect evidence and relevant information related to allegations and the alleged victim’s overall situation and risk.
  • To arrange for protective services to reduce risk of harm or alleviate abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.

All files, reports, records, communications, and working papers used or developed in an investigation or in providing services as a result of an investigation are confidential, except as provided by Chapter 552 of the Government Code. This confidential case information includes the following:

  • A report of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.
  • The identity of the person making the report.

Human Resources Code §48.101

See:

16000 Confidentiality and Integrity of Records

16100 Disclosure and Release of Case Information

16121 Case Information to the Reporter and Collaterals

Reporter With Firsthand Knowledge

If the reporter witnessed the alleged abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation, the APS specialist does the following:

  • Contacts the reporter to obtain more information, unless the reporter is anonymous.
  • Makes two or more attempted contacts to interview the reporter in every investigation, if the first attempted contact is unsuccessful, unless the reporter is anonymous.
  • Asks about all aspects of the allegations and the alleged victim’s overall situation.
  • Explores risk to the alleged victim’s health and safety.
  • Re-interviews the reporter later, if necessary to resolve any discrepancies.
  • Consults with the supervisor and regional attorney as necessary when the specialist is uncertain about what information APS can release to the reporter.

Reporter Without Firsthand Knowledge

In some cases, the reporter may be a person who was not a direct witness and has no firsthand knowledge of the alleged incident of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.

If the APS specialist has identified a person with firsthand knowledge, the specialist may use discretion in determining whether it is necessary to interview the reporter. The APS specialist considers what other relevant information about the alleged victim’s situation the reporter may be able to provide. If the APS specialist does not interview the reporter, the APS specialist documents, without identifying the reporter, that the reporter was not interviewed because he or she had no firsthand knowledge or other relevant information.

If the APS specialist determines interviewing the reporter is not necessary, the APS specialist still interviews or attempt to interview the person with firsthand knowledge as outlined in Reporter With Firsthand Knowledge, above.

See 6100 Testimonial Evidence.

Documentation for Reporter Interviews

Texas law requires that the identity of the person reporting abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation be kept confidential. Alleged victims, perpetrators, and guardians can obtain copies of case files, so APS specialists must be careful about how they document information related to the reporter.

Human Resources Code §48.101

When documenting interviews with the reporter, the APS specialist does as follows:

  • Makes sure to document all case information in a way that does not give any indication of who reported the abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. The APS specialist does not use terms such as reporter or phrases such as made the report.
  • Documents all attempts to contact the reporter in IMPACT.

See 9000 Case Contacts.

6123.2 Interviewing Medical or Mental Health Staff

APS February 2021

Medical and mental health staff members include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Physicians
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Emergency medical technicians
  • Emergency room staff
  • Medical social workers

APS interviews medical or mental health staff who have current and reliable information about the alleged victim’s medical or mental health conditions when allegations or evidence indicates that the alleged victim has any of the following:

  • Significant medical problems.
  • Significant mental health problems.
  • Need for medical or mental health treatment or medications.
  • Continued medical or mental health needs despite recent medical or mental health intervention.

the APS specialist also seeks the help of medical professionals for the following reasons, as appropriate:

  • To assess the alleged victim’s condition to help determine the degree of safety.
  • To assess the alleged victim’s capacity to consent to services, if needed.
  • To explain to the alleged victim the implications of his or her condition and the advisability of medical treatment, as appropriate.
  • To diagnose and treat the alleged victim’s medical condition.
  • To determine the need for protective services.

Conducting Interviews of Medical or Mental Health Staff

When interviewing staff members in medical or mental health occupations, the APS specialist does the following:

  • Addresses the allegations and the alleged victim’s overall medical or mental health situation.
  • Makes two or more attempted contacts to interview appropriate medical or mental health staff, if the first attempted contact is unsuccessful.
  • Documents all attempted and successful contacts with medical or mental health staff as outlined in policy.
  • Explores risk to the alleged victim’s health and safety.
  • Re-interviews medical or mental health staff later, if necessary to resolve any new or remaining discrepancies.
  • Interviews additional medical or mental health staff members as necessary to determine the alleged victim’s overall medical condition and safety.

See 9000 Case Contacts.

6123.3 Interviewing Law Enforcement

APS February 2021

APS interviews law enforcement officers as necessary to do the following:

  • Investigate allegations of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.
  • Explore the alleged victim’s overall situation and safety.

When interviewing law enforcement personnel during an investigation, the APS specialist does the following:

  • Requests the name and contact information of any law enforcement personnel contacted.
  • Addresses all important factors related to the allegations and the alleged victim’s overall situation.
  • Requests help as necessary to deliver protective services.

See 6100 Testimonial Evidence.

6124 Interviewing a Minor

APS February 2021

APS interviews minors who are either of the following:

  • Alleged perpetrators.
  • Collaterals.

APS is authorized to interview a minor during an investigation with or without first requesting consent from his or her parents or responsible adults. If APS requests consent before the interview, the parents or responsible adults can do any of the following:

  • Give consent.
  • Refuse consent.
  • Insist on being present during the interview.
  • Delay the interview.

If one parent refuses to give consent, the APS specialist does not interview the minor, even if the other parent has given consent.

Documentation of a supervisory consultation is required whenever the APS specialist does not interview the alleged perpetrator.

See:

6122 Interviewing an Alleged Perpetrator

9600 Supervisor Consultations

6124.1 Requesting Consent to Interview a Minor

APS February 2021

The APS specialist may seek consent from the parent or responsible adult before interviewing a minor.

If the parent or responsible adult consents to the APS interview, the APS specialist is not required to complete Form 2262 Notification to Parent or Responsible Adult.

The parent or responsible adult may refuse to allow the APS specialist to interview the minor. When this happens, the APS specialist must respect the decision of the parent or responsible adult, even if the minor meets one or more of the following conditions:

  • Wants to give evidence.
  • Is the alleged perpetrator.
  • Has critical knowledge about the case.
6124.2 Interviewing a Minor Without Requesting Consent

APS February 2021

When the APS specialist interviews a minor without the prior consent of the parent or the responsible adult whom the minor primarily lives with, the APS specialist completes Form 2262 Notification to Parent or Responsible Adult and sends it to one of the following, as appropriate:

  • The parent.
  • The responsible adult of the minor, if APS does not know where the parent is located.
  • Both the responsible adult and the parent, if APS knows where the parent is located, and parental rights have not been terminated.

The APS specialist keeps a copy of the form in the external documentation file.

6124.3 Interviewing a Minor at School

APS February 2021

The APS specialist refers to the table below before interviewing a minor at school:

Actions by School:

Actions by APS Specialist:

School consents to APS interview of minor.

APS specialist interviews the minor on school premises if the parent or responsible adult has not refused consent.

School does not consent to APS interview of minor.

APS specialist does not interview the minor on school premises. APS specialist interviews the minor at another location if the parent or responsible adult has not refused consent.

When the APS specialist interviews a minor at school without the prior consent of his or her parent or responsible adult, the APS specialist completes Form 2262 Notification to Parent or Responsible Adult and sends it to one of the following, as appropriate:

  • The parent.
  • The responsible adult of the minor, if APS does not know where the parent is located.
  • Both the responsible adult and the parent, if APS knows where the parent is located, and parental rights have not been terminated.

The APS specialist keeps a copy of the form in the external documentation file.

When the APS specialist interviews a minor at school without the prior consent of his or her parent or responsible adult, the APS specialist follows policy in 6124.2 Interviewing a Minor Without Requesting Consent.

6200 Physical Evidence

APS February 2021

Physical evidence is any item or substance that can be seen or touched, related to an allegation.

Examples of physical evidence include the following:

  • Weapons.
  • Soiled linens.
  • Torn clothing.
  • Large holes in the alleged victim’s floor.

The APS specialist does not handle or remove physical evidence found at an incident scene. APS does not have a way to collect and store physical evidence.

Instead, the APS specialist documents physical evidence by taking photos of it and describing it in a contact narrative.

The APS specialist takes photos of the evidence, when possible, without disturbing it. Each piece of physical evidence needs at least one photo to establish where and what it is, and at least one close-up. In some situations, a diagram or drawing may be appropriate.

The APS specialist also does as follows:

  • Calls or re-calls law enforcement, if the allegation is a criminal offense, to notify them of the allegation and the existence of the physical evidence.
  • Offers to guard the evidence, if safe and appropriate, to prevent anyone from touching it until law enforcement arrives.

See:

6300 Demonstrative Evidence

6310 Photos, Audio, and Video as Evidence

6320 Diagrams and Drawings as Evidence

6300 Demonstrative Evidence

APS February 2021

Demonstrative evidence includes visual representations of other objects or places, as well as audio. This type of evidence is useful in showing how facts relate to each other. It must be as accurate as possible and represent the actual object or place at the relevant time.

Examples of demonstrative evidence include the following:

  • Diagrams
  • Photos
  • X-rays
  • Maps
  • Drawings
  • Graphs
  • Models
  • Video and audio

The APS specialist does the following:

  • Uses demonstrative evidence as necessary to clarify the facts of the case.
  • Makes sure demonstrative evidence represents the actual object or place as accurately as possible.
  • Documents all demonstrative evidence on the External Documentation page in IMPACT and files the evidence in the external case file.

See 16220 Maintenance of External Case Files.

6310 Photos, Audio, and Video as Evidence

APS February 2021

The APS specialist takes photos with the person’s permission, to clarify and illustrate the facts of a case. Alleged victims and alleged perpetrators have the right to refuse to be photographed or to have their homes photographed. See 6311 Obtaining Permission to Take Photos.

The APS specialist uses the camera on his or her DFPS-issued cell phone to take case-related photos.

The APS specialist takes photos to document the following:

  • The existence or nonexistence of injuries, when an injury is alleged in the intake report or when alleged or discovered during the investigation.
  • The living environment, when it is or is alleged to be a health or safety hazard, especially when court action is possible.
  • The use of purchased client services (PCS) funds for cleaning, repairing, or modifying the alleged victim’s home or yard. (This requires before and after photos.)

DFPS sometimes receives photos, audio, or videos from people or entities outside DFPS. When this occurs, the APS specialist documents the type of evidence on the External Documentation page in IMPACT and files the hard copy, if any, in the external case file.

DFPS staff members are only allowed to alter photos in the following ways:

  • Inserting a photo into a document and resizing the image to fit the space without altering the original image file. (This does not involve use of an outside photo service.)
  • Rotating a photo before uploading it into IMPACT, so that it gives an accurate view of the photographed person or place.

Documentation for Photos

When documenting photos, the APS specialist does the following:

  • Uploads each digital photo on the External Documentation page in IMPACT.
  • Stores hard copies of photos (if any) in the external case file.

When a person refuses to allow photos, the APS specialist documents the refusal in a contact narrative.

Printing Digital Photos

If digital photos need to be printed, the APS specialist does as follows:

  • Makes sure the printed date stamp is correct.
  • Keeps the original digital image as read only and protects it from alteration.
  • Uses a photo service outside DFPS if alterations are needed, such as enlarging, cropping, or brightening.
  • Orders prints of digital photos from DFPS online photo processing only as needed (for example, for case staffings or meetings, criminal investigations, or court proceedings).
  • Places a label on the back of each printed photo with the IMPACT case name and case number and a brief description of the photo.

For information about online photo processing, see DFPS Online Photo Processing.

See Electronic Case File in 16210 Content of Case Records.

6311 Obtaining Permission to Take Photos

APS February 2021

The requirements for permission to take photos also apply to audio and video.

If Alleged Victim Has Capacity to Consent

If there is no indication that an alleged victim lacks the capacity to consent to protective services, the APS specialist requests the alleged victim’s permission to photograph the alleged victim or the alleged victim’s living environment. The APS specialist documents the alleged victim’s permission or refusal for photos in a contact narrative in IMPACT. The table below describes what the APS specialist does, depending on the alleged victim’s choice about photos.

Alleged victim’s choice:

APS specialist’s actions:

Alleged victim consents to photos.

APS specialist takes the necessary photos.

Alleged victim consents to photos but someone else prevents or interferes.

APS specialist does the following:

  • Attempts to persuade the person who is preventing or interfering to allow the photos.
  • May consult with a subject matter expert.
  • Consults with the supervisor and regional attorney to determine whether legal action is necessary.

Alleged victim refuses photos or withdraws consent.

APS specialist does the following:

  • Explains that the photos are important evidence and are often useful when providing protective services.
  • Does not press such arguments to the point of possibly causing the alleged victim to stop cooperating with the investigation.
  • Never seeks an order against interference with an investigation for the purpose of taking photos.
  • Does not take photos if the alleged victim continues to refuse.
  • Does not take photos of the living environment if the alleged victim refuses, even if a family member or owner consents.

See:

9600 Supervisor Consultations

9700 Subject Matter Expert (SME) Consultations

13120 Consulting With Regional Attorneys

If Alleged Victim Possibly Lacks Capacity to Consent

If there are indications that an alleged victim lacks the capacity to consent to photos, the APS specialist still requests the alleged victim’s permission to photograph the alleged victim or the alleged victim’s living environment. The APS specialist is not required to obtain permission from the alleged victim’s caretaker, family member, or guardian.

The APS specialist uses his or her judgment to determine whether an alleged victim who is not able to verbally communicate has given consent by using affirmative gestures. A nonresponsive alleged victim (such as an alleged victim who is sleeping or unconscious) cannot give consent.

The APS specialist documents the alleged victim’s permission or refusal for photos in a contact narrative in IMPACT.

The table below describes what the APS specialist does when there are indications the alleged victim lacks the capacity to consent to photos.

Alleged victim’s choice:

APS specialist’s actions:

Alleged victim consents to photos, and there is no caretaker, family member, or guardian present.

APS specialist takes the necessary photos.

Alleged victim refuses photos or withdraws consent, and there is no caretaker, family member, or guardian present.

APS specialist takes photos only if they are critical to the investigation and can be taken without causing the alleged victim duress.

Alleged victim consents to or refuses photos, but someone else prevents or interferes.

APS specialist does the following:

  • Attempts to persuade the person who is preventing or interfering to allow the photos.
  • May consult with a subject matter expert.
  • Consults with the supervisor and regional attorney to determine whether legal action is necessary.

See:

13400 Interference With Investigation or Protective Services

9600 Supervisor Consultations

13120 Consulting With Regional Attorneys

6312 Taking Photos of a Person

APS February 2021

When documenting the existence or nonexistence of injuries, the APS specialist does the following:

  • Takes all photos as soon as possible.
  • Takes at least one photo with the alleged victim’s face and the injury or absence of alleged injury in the same image, to show who is being photographed.
  • Takes at least one close-up of every injury or alleged injury.

If possible, the APS specialist holds, or requests that the alleged victim hold, a ruler or another object of known size (such as a dollar bill) against the injury as a point of reference to show the size of the injury.

If injuries are alleged but not present, photos showing that the alleged injuries do not exist are required unless both of the following apply:

  • The alleged victim denies the abuse allegations.
  • The alleged victim’s behavior does not indicate the alleged victim is experiencing undue influence and may be denying the allegations out of fear or to protect the alleged perpetrator.

See 6121.3 Undue Influence.

Sensitive Photos of an Alleged Victim

When taking photos of body areas considered private, the APS specialist does the following:

  • Photographs only an alleged victim who is the same gender as the specialist.
  • Requests help from a secondary APS specialist if the alleged victim is of a different gender.
  • Has a witness present.
  • Does not touch the alleged victim any more than is necessary to take the photo.
  • Uses universal precautions for guarding against infections if touching the alleged victim is necessary.

When collecting and handling sensitive images, the APS specialist refers to OP-2118 Sensitive Images.

The APS specialist consults with the supervisor if it is necessary to take sensitive photos without following this procedure. Deviation from this procedure is allowed only in rare cases, when photos are critical and the procedure prevents photos from being taken at the initial face-to-face contact or within an appropriate time after that.

See 9600 Supervisor Consultations.

Sensitive Photos of an Alleged Perpetrator

The APS specialist never requests to take photos of the alleged perpetrator in a semi-nude or nude state.

If such a photo seems necessary, the APS specialist may refer the case to law enforcement for investigation. If law enforcement cannot help, then the APS specialist may do either of the following:

  • Refer the alleged perpetrator to a physician to take the photos.
  • Make a determination based on the available evidence (without the photos).

See 13400 Interference With Investigation or Protective Services.

6313 Taking Photos of a Living Environment

APS February 2021

The APS specialist begins by taking a photo of the entryway to the home or room, to establish a reference point. The APS specialist then takes a series of photos in a clockwise sequence, beginning in the center of the area or in a corner.

6320 Diagrams and Drawings as Evidence

APS February 2021

Diagrams represent incident scenes and living environments. Diagrams are also useful to help people visualize the setting when a photo cannot accurately depict the scene.

Diagrams and drawings do not need to be expert or drawn to scale, but they must demonstrate the following:

  • Locations of people and objects when the events occurred.
  • Dimensions of rooms, halls, doorways, and so on, if the information is significant.

When documenting drawings and diagrams collected for an investigation, the APS specialist does one of the following:

  • Enters each drawing or diagram in the External Documentation page in IMPACT and files the hard copy in the external case file.
  • Uploads an electronic drawing or diagram to One Case in IMPACT.

See 16220 Maintenance of External Case Files.

6400 Documentary Evidence

APS February 2021

Documentary evidence helps establish a preponderance of the evidence and supports the finding of the investigation. It strengthens the credibility of the case if there is potential for legal action, including referral to the Employee Misconduct Registry (EMR).

Types of Documentary Evidence

Documentary evidence includes any evidence in the form of a document (paper or electronic). See 6300 Demonstrative Evidence.

The APS specialist examines documentary evidence relevant to the allegation. Documentary evidence includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Physician’s or nurse’s notes
  • Business records
  • Legal papers
  • Canceled checks
  • Letters
  • Hospital charts or records
  • Bank records
  • Police reports
  • Time sheets
  • Home health service plans
  • Guardianship orders
  • Power of attorney agreements

See:

6410 Records Checks

DFPS Case History of Principals in 6411 IMPACT Records Checks

6412 Criminal History Records Checks

16220 Maintenance of External Case Files

Documentation for Documentary Evidence

The APS specialist does the following:

  • Enters all documentary evidence in the External Documentation page in IMPACT.
  • Files the documents in the external case file.

If collecting or copying documents is not practical, the APS specialist fully describes the relevant information from the documents, providing as much detail as possible in a contact narrative.

The APS specialist does not copy and paste any email correspondence directly into IMPACT.

See:

13140 Required Documentation of Legal Actions

16220 Maintenance of External Case Files

6410 Records Checks

APS February 2021

APS researches background information of principals in APS cases to develop a thorough knowledge and understanding of the following:

  • Potential risk of harm.
  • Principal’s behaviors, including the likelihood that they will happen again.
  • Current and recurrent problems.
  • Prior interventions.

See also 16100 Disclosure and Release of Case Information.

6411 IMPACT Records Checks

APS February 2021

Although information in IMPACT is confidential, DFPS may use that information for authorized purposes and may release it externally when authorized by, and in accordance with, law and policy.

APS specialists perform IMPACT records checks on people related to a case only for the purposes of investigating reports and providing protective services.

Only the person’s immediate supervisor and human resources staff are authorized to perform IMPACT records checks on a person who is not related to a case.

See also 16100 Disclosure and Release of Case Information.

DFPS Case History of Principals

APS reviews DFPS histories of alleged victims and alleged perpetrators to develop a thorough knowledge and understanding of the following:

  • Risk of harm.
  • Behaviors, including the likelihood that they will happen again.
  • Current and recurrent problems.
  • Prior interventions.

The APS specialist views cases listed on the Principal Case History page in IMPACT to research previous DFPS history for the alleged victim and alleged perpetrator.

See 8700 Risk of Recidivism Assessment (RORA).

6412 Criminal History Records Checks

APS February 2021

APS conducts legally authorized criminal history checks to meet the requirements in Texas Government Code §411.114, and for the following reasons:

  • To fully investigate allegations of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of persons age 65 or older and adults with a disability.
  • To obtain information relevant to the safety of alleged victims and APS specialists.
  • To obtain historical information about alleged perpetrators’ actions.

Criminal history includes information that the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) collects about a person. This information consists of criminal charges, arrests, and dispositions. DPS has criminal history for Texas only; the FBI has history for the entire United States.

Release of Criminal History Information

DFPS may only release criminal history information to the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) or any other outside entity when one of the following applies:

  • With the consent of the person who is the subject of the criminal record.
  • Upon court order.

See also 16125.3 Disclosure of Criminal History Information.

6412.1 Required Criminal History Records Checks

APS February 2021

According to Texas Government Code §411.114, DFPS must obtain criminal history information from the Department of Public Safety or the FBI that relates to an alleged perpetrator in a report DFPS receives alleging that the person has abused, neglected, or exploited a child, a person age 65 or older, or a person with a disability, provided that both of the following apply:

  • The report alleges the person has engaged in conduct that meets the applicable definition of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation under Chapter 261, Family Code or Chapter 48, Human Resources Code.
  • The person is not also the victim of the alleged conduct (for example, self-neglect).

See also 16125.3 Disclosure of Criminal History Information.

6412.2 Optional Criminal History Records Checks

APS February 2021

Texas Government Code §411.114 entitles, but does not require, DFPS to obtain criminal history records from the Department of Public Safety for either of the following people:

  • A person living in the same home as the alleged victim.
  • A volunteer or applicant to volunteer with DFPS (other than a registered volunteer).

See also:

6412.1 Required Criminal History Records Checks

16125.3 Disclosure of Criminal History Information

6412.3 Criminal History Records Checks From Sources Other Than DPS

APS February 2021

According to Texas Government Code §411.114(a)(4), DFPS is allowed to seek criminal record information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any Texas criminal justice agency if the information relates to people described in 6412.1 Required Criminal History Records Checks.

Law enforcement entities must expedite the delivery of such information to DFPS to ensure prompt criminal background checks for the safety of alleged victims and APS specialists.

6412.4 Insufficient Information for Criminal History Records Checks

APS February 2021

If the APS specialist has insufficient information to conduct a criminal history records check, he or she documents in the narrative of a Contact Detail page the following information:

  • The attempts to obtain the information from the alleged perpetrator.
  • The reason why the information was not obtained.
6412.5 Process of Obtaining Criminal History Information

APS February 2021

To obtain criminal history information about alleged perpetrators, the APS specialist completes the following:

  1. Reviews criminal history information previously captured in the Records Check Detail page in IMPACT.
  2. Attempts to verify and enter as much information as possible on the Person Detail page in IMPACT to ensure a correct data match with DPS.
  3. Documents attempts to gather information for the Person Detail page and, if applicable, the reason that information cannot be obtained.
  4. Conducts a new DPS criminal history check from the Records Check Detail page in IMPACT, unless the Records Check Detail page shows that APS conducted a DPS criminal history check in the previous 12 months.
  5. Requests additional criminal history checks from the Federal Bureau of Investigations and other Texas criminal justice agencies, as appropriate and necessary.

The APS specialist conducts DPS criminal history checks on household members other than the alleged perpetrator, as appropriate and necessary to protect the alleged victim.

After receiving the results of a DPS criminal history check, the APS specialist does as follows:

  • Reviews the results and does one of the following:
    • Accepts records that belong to the subject of the check.
    • Rejects records that do not belong to the subject of the check.
  • Enters all criminal history documentation that arrives in paper form into the External Documentation page and files the papers in the external case file.

The APS specialist does not print the results of the DPS criminal history check if either of the following applies:

  • The record does not belong to the subject of the check.
  • DPS does not provide a record.

See also:

Using Criminal History Information to Reach a Finding in 8620 Determination of the Validity of the Allegation

16220 Maintenance of External Case Files

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