The Prosecuting Attorney is the chief legal officer for Lewis County. The primary mission of a Prosecuting Attorney is to enforce criminal laws and work for the victims of crime. This includes obtaining orders for restitution for the victim, informing the victim of court dates, and acting as an advocate for the victim at trial and sentencing. The Prosecuting Attorney also acts as legal counsel to the Lewis County Board of County Commissioners and county departments, assists in certain child support cases, and performs a number of other statutory duties. Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys are appointed by the Prosecuting Attorney to help perform these duties. The Prosecuting Attorney and the Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys must be admitted to practice law in the State of Washington.
The Prosecuting Attorney is authorized under RCW 36.27.020 to prosecute all criminal cases brought under state statutes or county ordinances. Prosecution includes advice to law enforcement officers during investigation to determine if criminal charges should be filed, plea negotiations, pretrial hearings, trial, sentencing hearings and appeals. Criminal prosecution is divided into four areas: adult felonies in Superior Court, adult misdemeanors in District Court, all juvenile cases in Superior Court/Juvenile Division; and prosecution of appeals in the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court.
Providing a Crime Victim Program
Defendants convicted in Lewis County are ordered to pay a fee that helps fund a crime victim program with the Prosecuting Attorney's Office. This program assists the attorneys with victims and witnesses for hearings and trials and preparing paperwork for court. Program support includes: direct communication with the victims and witnesses; referrals to other agencies and programs such as the Department of Labor and Industries Crime Victim Compensation program and the crisis clinic; coordinates with the Department of Corrections on case tracking and victim location; and finally, at times, provides transportation for victims and witnesses to court hearings.
Providing Legal Representation in Civil Actions Where the County is a Party
Where the state or the county is a party in a civil action, the Prosecuting Attorney may prosecute or defend. This includes pleadings, answers, interrogatories, depositions, motions, negotiations, trial and appeal.
Providing Legal Advice to County Government
The Prosecuting Attorney is the legal advisor to County Commissioners and other elected officials. This includes both informal advice and formal legal opinions. By law, the Prosecuting Attorney is not permitted to give legal advice to the public.
Support for the Establishment of Paternity and Child Support
The Washington State DSHS/Division of Child Support contracts with the Prosecuting Attorney to handle paternity cases for both welfare and non-welfare parents. Determination of paternity involves interviewing the mother, filing a lawsuit against the possible father's, genetic tests, pretrial motions, entry of a judgment, and on occasion a trial. This may also involve interrogatories and guardian ad item reports. DSHS/DCS locates absent parents and enforces the child support orders. If the absent parent resides out of the area, the procedure can be done through an UIFSA (Uniform Interstate Family Support Act) action. This is an act whereby other states and some countries have agreed to reciprocally handle child support cases when one of the involved parties reside there. The Prosecuting Attorney also handles modifications of child support and enters into private paternity, modification, and dissolution cases where a child is receiving public assistance. The Prosecuting Attorney may also opt to file contempt charges for not paying child support.
In addition to the duties enumerated under RCW 36.27.020, other duties of the Prosecuting Attorney include: examining official bonds of all county and precinct officers; preparing ballot titles and recall petitions, being a member of canvassing board; being a member of the Lewis County Law and Justice Committee; being a member of the governing board of the Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team; representing and advising the Civil Service Commission.