I was recently part of a child neglect case in family court. On the morning of trial, the Judge rejected the settlement agreement that had been arrived at by the respondent and social services (essentially because he viewed it as too lenient). The judge then proceeded to say that, in his view, the respondent was lucky that she had not been charged with abuse and that if all the allegations were true, it could be considered abuse. The respondent wanted to exercise her right to a trial. Before the trial started however, the Judge said he had done some additional research and that if the respondent went through with the trial (v. making an admission to neglect), that social services could then move to amend their petition to change it from neglect to abuse and the judge could then have the option to make a finding of abuse (if warranted by the evidence). It was requested that the matter be adjourned to allow the respondent additional time to speak with her lawyer about the consequences of going through with the trial now that the matter was potentially being changed from neglect to abuse. The request was denied. The respondent then made the admission to neglect.
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