Duties of the County Attorney
Donovan Dearstyne is the Hubbard County Attorney. The county attorney is the legal advisor for the Hubbard County Board of Commissioners, county department heads and other county agencies. As the legal advisor for the county, the county attorney serves in a role that is similar to that of an in-house corporate counsel. The County Attorney provides legal advice to the County Board and county departments to assist the county in providing many public services such as waste management, child protection and the protection of vulnerable adults. Other areas of civil advice include defending challenges to property tax values, representing the Human Services Department on welfare appeals, enforcing County environment and health ordinances, and forfeiting property used in connection with criminal activity.
The county attorney is the chief prosecutor for crimes which occur within the county. Prosecution involves bringing charges against a party, trying the case in court, and making sentencing recommendations. The county attorney prosecutes felony offenses which include murder, sexual assault, drug offenses and child abuse. The county attorney also prosecutes misdemeanors and gross misdemeanor offenses occurring in unincorporated areas or in other limited areas defined by statute.
The county attorney is the prosecutor in all cases involving juvenile offenders. These range from curfew violation to the most serious felony criminal behavior. The county attorney oversees diversion programs which allow minor offenders to receive consequences without going to court. These programs are intended to reduce repeat offenses. While a goal of juvenile court is rehabilitation of offenders, due to public safety concerns, the county attorney may ask the court to certify a juvenile to stand trial as an adult. Upon conviction, the juvenile could then receive all potential adult sanctions, including a prison sentence.
The county attorney provides assistance and support to the victims and witnesses who play a vital role in the criminal justice system. They advise victims of crime of their legal rights. The county attorney’s office works closely with the various victim services groups within the county. The county attorney will request restitution for losses suffered by crime victims.
The county attorney initiates CHIPS (Child in Need of Protection or Services) petitions to protect abused or neglected children in the county. The county attorney starts legal proceedings to protect the health and safety of vulnerable adults within the county when they are in need of assistance. The county attorney also files involuntary commitment actions to provide necessary treatment for individuals who are mentally ill or chemically dependent.
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