The County Attorney's Office is responsible for the prosecution of criminal offenses committed within Lewis and Clark County. It represents the State of Montana in child abuse and child neglect cases, as well as juvenile court proceedings. The County Attorney serves as the attorney for County government, including all agencies and boards. The Civil Division handles involuntary commitments for those who are "seriously mentally ill" and assists the state with involuntary commitment for those who are "seriously developmentally disabled" who are residents of the county.
County Attorney/Public Administrator
The Lewis and Clark County Attorney/Public Administrator is elected to serve:
- As the state’s prosecutor for crimes committed by adult and juvenile offenders. The office prosecutes felony criminal offenses committed within Lewis and Clark County and misdemeanor offenses that occur within the county, but outside Helena.
- As the legal advisor for county officials and agencies.
- As Public Administrator for the estates of persons who die without someone who can or will administer their property.
- As the legal representative for the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services in child neglect cases and to help protect incapacitated persons who do not have someone who can or will look out for their interests.
- As the legal representative for professional persons seeking to commit persons to an appropriate facility who are seriously mentally ill or seriously developmentally disabled.
- As one of the agencies that assist victims of domestic violence or sexual crimes, including helping victims complete Applications for Temporary Orders of Protection and by helping victims of violent or sexual crimes complete Applications for Crime Victim Compensation Benefits .
The Lewis and Clark County Attorney/Public Administrator does not:
- Provide legal help to private citizens.
- Prosecute misdemeanor offenses that occur within the City of Helena.
- Handle child support collection. Child support matters are handled by private attorneys or by the Child Support Enforcement Office at 444-9855 or the State of Montana Child Support Enforcement Division.
The County Attorney/Public Administrator Office employs a variety of staff including seven Deputy County Attorneys and a Victim/Witness Coordinator. The office is divided into criminal and civil divisions:
The Criminal Division prosecutes felony offenses committed within Lewis and Clark County, and misdemeanor offenses committed within the county, but outside the City Of Helena. Generally, the office does not investigate criminal offenses and only prosecutes cases referred to it by law enforcement agencies such as the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff, the Helena City Police Department, the East Helena Police Department and the Montana Highway Patrol. In addition, the office accepts referrals of criminal matters from a variety of state and federal law enforcement agencies. The Criminal Division also prosecutes persons under the age of 18 in Youth Court.
The Criminal Division prosecutes felony bad check cases and misdemeanor bad check cases for checks written outside Helena. A check written for more than $1500 or bad checks issued pursuant to a common criminal scheme are eligible for felony prosecutions. Please see our office policy regarding bad check prosecutions. Before prosecuting a bad check case, the office requires you to send a letter to the check’s maker notifying the maker of the dishonored check and the maker’s obligation to pay the check within 5 days. This office requires that you provide us with information regarding the incident. Because forgeries require an investigation, you must report forged checks to your bank and to an appropriate law enforcement agency that will refer the case to this office for prosecution.
The Criminal Division represents the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services in Lewis and Clark County in proceedings involving the enforcement of Child Abuse or Neglect laws.
The Civil Division is responsible for providing legal advice to the County Commissioners, all county departments and to many of the county’s sub-jurisdictions such as school, fire, conservation, and weed districts.
The Civil Division handles involuntary commitments for those who are "seriously mentally ill" and assists the state with involuntary commitment for those who are "seriously developmentally disabled" who are residents of the county.
The division performs the County Attorney's duties as Public Administrator of the estates of persons who die without any heirs or to help protect persons with incapacities who need help.
The Civil Division also helps a variety of state agencies in the enforcement of various regulations and civil matters such as the collection of back wages.