Michael A. Gottlieb, P.A. - Fort Lauderdale Criminal Defense Lawyer

Opioid charges can threaten your parental rights

The new front in the drug war, first declared back in the 1970s, is that which involves addiction to opioids. In Broward County, concern over increasing opioid overdose death rates has prompted a lawsuit against manufacturers of prescription formulas of the drug. Meanwhile, other experts say the real threat is not from those pills, but from cheaper street opioids like heroin and synthetic fentanyl.

While the tragedy of overdose deaths is real, there are additional aspects of the crisis that might deserve equal attention. Individuals who become addicted are often mothers and fathers, and the disease can drive them to actions they would never have conceived of before. Not only might they abandon fear of being charged with drug crimes, there's a risk of being placed under protective orders that block them from relationship with their children.

It is easy to understand why a protection order might be employed in these kinds of cases. Addiction not only puts the abuser at risk, their children could suffer neglect. However, the benefits of a restraining order can have detrimental long-term effects on named individuals. These can include:

  • The establishment of a permanent criminal record
  • The inability to obtain and maintain housing
  • Reduced career opportunities

Tips in response

If you are a parent placed under restraining order due to addiction, you should consult an attorney to explore ways to protect your rights. Regardless of what plan might be developed, follow certain steps.

  • Make all court appearances: If you are served an order, show up in court as called for in the document. If you want to challenge the order, don't expect to do it orally at the hearing. File the necessary request form with the court.
  • Assemble evidence supporting your position: This might include documents attesting to your character or efforts you are making stemming from the criminal allegations against you.
  • Abide by the orders: The first order may be a temporary restraining order, pending a later hearing. While preliminary in nature, violation of a TRO can lead to another arrest and additional charges, and work against your best interests at the permanent order hearing.

The opioid crisis is real. Children need protection. Addicted parents need help. So do the affected families.

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