Frequently asked questions

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Child Support Division
FINS
Juvenile Drug Court
Family Service Division
Misdemeanor Probation
Senior Citizen Services
Victim - Witness Assistance Services
White Collar Crime

CHILD SUPPORT DIVISION

What is Child Support?

Child Support is a legal obligation of a parent to provide emotional, financial, and medical support for a child or children.

Federal law requires all states to have a child support enforcement program. In Louisiana, the program is administered by the Department of Children and Family Services, Office of Family Support, Support Enforcement Services (SES).  Support Enforcement Services places the responsibility for support of children on their parents, in an attempt to reduce the children's dependence on public assistance.  By contract, the 16th Judicial District Attorney’s Office assists in administering the program for our tri-parish area.

 

Who Can Get Help?

Any parent or person responsible for a child who needs our services. Any parent or person who receives FITAP (Family Independence Temporary Assistance Program) or Medicaid automatically receives child support enforcement services and assigns rights of support to the state.

How and Where Do I Apply?

You may apply at any of the District Attorney’s offices in New Iberia, St. Martinville, Franklin or Morgan City.

What services are provided by the Child Support Division of the District Attorney’s Office?

This office provides services to establish paternity, to locate a parent, and also to assist in establishing or modifying orders.

Are there any costs involved with the application?

Those who do not receive FITAP or Medicaid will be charged an application fee of $25.00, which is forwarded to DCFS.

See the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services web site located at www.dcfs.la.gov for further information and frequently asked questions.

 

FINS COMMITTEE (FAMILY IN NEED OF SERVICES)

What is FINS?

The FINS Committee allocates the duties and responsibilities of dealing with truant and ungovernable children. FINS assists families in getting children on the right track.

How can FINS assist a family?

With the goal of family preservation and a positive new direction for children, families learn to help themselves through FINS assistance. This is accomplished by determining what underlying problems the children and families have, then accessing the appropriate services.

How does one get involved with the FINS Committee?

Referrals are made from school officials, police officers, District Attorney's, the judiciary, other agencies, and parents/caretakers.

 

JUVENILE DRUG COURT

What are some benefits of the Drug Court Program?

Living a sober life; Assistance in education; Motivational skills; Coping life skills; Family and individual counseling; Records are expunged.

How long are the juvenile and the family involved with Drug Court ?

It is a four-phased program lasting one year, plus a probation period.

How long is probation?

Two years of probation, one of which includes Drug Court.

Is there any cost to participate in Juvenile Drug Court ?

There is a $30 per month probation fee plus a $15 fee per week for drug screens while in phases I, II, and III. In phase IV the fee is $5 per week for drug screens. The majority of the drug screening cost occurs while in Drug Court. (The $15 fee may be negotiable according to the household income.)

How often must I come to court?

It depends on which of the four phases you are in:

Phase I – once per week
Phase II – every other week
Phase III – every 3 weeks
Phase IV – every 4 weeks

How long does each phase last?

Phase I – 3 months
Phase II – 3 months
Phase III –3 months
Phase IV –3 months

What happens if I am not successful in Juvenile Drug Court ?

It will result in a revocation hearing; for non-compliance, the presiding judge may impose a sentence whereby the juvenile is sent to a non-secured group home or secured detention facility under the supervision of the Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ)

How can I place my child in the Drug Court Program?

A judge, the FINS Committee or OJJ, must refer the juvenile. The juvenile is then screened by the DA’s office and evaluated by treatment to establish if certain criteria are met. If all is acceptable, the juvenile will be required to appear in court and plead guilty or transfer his/her charges.

 

FAMILY SERVICE DIVISION  

Can parents self refer to the Early Intervention Program?

Because this program is school based, all complaints must go through school system administrators. Guardians can contact their child's principal for more information.

Is there a fee involved for services?

No. There are no fees associated with services offered by the Family Service Division of the District Attorney's Office. All services are coordinated by and funded by the District Attorney's Family Service Division.

If other services are needed that are not offered though the Prosecutor's Early Intervention Program, would a case manager be able to help families find these services?

Yes. Should a family need a service that is not offered thought the program, the case manager can assist the family in locating that particular service.

What services are offered by the program?

Once a case is accepted, all cases receive case management services. Depending on the needs of the family, the case manager will typically refer the family to community resources which address the presenting problems. If services needed are not available, the family may be referred to services offered through the Family Service Division. These services include SCARE Anger Management, Incredible Years Social Skills Training, Parenting Wisely classes, the Strengthening Families Program, the Mentoring Moms Program, School-based or In-Home Family or Individual Counseling, the Functional Family Therapy program, Psychological Evaluations, transportation. .

 

MISDEMEANOR PROBATION

Is there any cost to the probationer?

The person placed on probation is required to pay a monthly supervision fee. This allows the probation department to operate without the use of any public funding.

What happens if a probationer does not do what the court has ordered?

He/she will be in violation of his/her probation and may be returned to court for a ‘show cause’ hearing in which it is determined whether or not the probationer should be held in contempt of court for not following the conditions of probation.

What if probationer does not appear for a show cause hearing?

The court will issue a bench warrant for his/her arrest.

Will the probationer be drug screened?

Probationers are drug screened by order of the sentencing judge, either by hair or urine specimen at their own cost.

What types of cases do the DA Probation Department supervise?

The most common type of misdemeanor probation cases are:

    • DWI's
    • Battery / Domestic Abuse Battery
    • Simple possession drug cases
    • Speeding
    • Wildlife and Fisheries violations
    • Protective order violations
    • Cases where restitution is ordered
    • Misdemeanor carnal knowledge
    • Simple criminal damage to property
    • Hit and Run

 

SENIOR CITIZEN SERVICES

 What is elder abuse?

It is where seniors, 60 or older, are subjected to physical or emotional abuse as well as neglect by care givers or from other people misusing or stealing seniors’ money.

What are some Signs of elder abuse?

According to the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs, these are signs to look for:

    • Physical actions, such as pushing, hitting, restraining an elder;
    • Emotional and verbal intimidation, such as screaming, threatening, insulting an elder;
    • Withdrawal or isolation by an elder;
    • Sexual exploitation, particularly threats or actions, which are sexual in nature, against an elder without their consent;
    • Neglect, such as withholding of medicine, medical care, food, personal care, utilities, or daily necessities, or overmedication, or self-neglect to the point of danger;
    • Financial extortion or exploitation, such as theft or misuse of money, property or the possessions of the elder

Where do I report any known or suspected elder abuse?

You may report the abuse to your local law enforcement agency, to Louisiana ’s Elderly Protective Services (800-259-4990), the State’s Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (888-799-6885 or 225-326-6210) or the Lafayette Regional Office (337-365-9855).

What is Elderly Fraud?

If con artists were to profile their victims, there's a good chance those victims would be age 65 and up. Increasingly, older people are prime targets for scams. According to national statistics, people over 65 constitute only 12 percent of the population, but they make up 30 percent of scam victims.

As a senior, how do I avoid being the victim of fraud?

When dealing with a stranger, someone on the phone, or through the mail or by email, be extremely cautious about giving any money, writing a check or using a credit card, or about giving any personal and confidential information. Also, remember “If it’s too good to be true”, it is probably not any good.

What is a Neighborhood Watch Program and how do I go about establishing one?

Neighborhood Watch is where law enforcement, the criminal justice system and private citizens work together to prevent crime. In a defined area, neighbors join forces to become the eyes and ears of law enforcement. Your District Attorney has a detailed process to follow to get your Neighborhood Watch Program going.

 

VICTIM - WITNESS ASSISTANCE

 As a victim, will I be notified if the defendant is released from incarceration? 

It is the responsibility of the agency where the defendant is incarcerated to notify the victim upon the defendant's release from jail.  Some agencies have the protocol, referred to as LAVNS, in place to insure that this occurs. LAVNS (Louisiana Victim Notification System) is the best, most effective way to insure that the victim is properly notified of the defendant's release.  Most parishes in Louisiana are currently set up through LAVNS for notification. The key for its success is making victims aware at the arrest of the defendant that this service is available. You can register with LAVNS by phone (1-866-528-6748) or on the internet (www.lavns.com ), any movement with the defendant LAVNS will contact you.

How can we keep the defendant from having any contact with us?

Normally, when bond is set and the crime is a "victim" crime the judge sets conditions of bond that involve "no contact" with the victim.  However, if this is not done and the victim is fearful of retaliation, measures can be taken to add conditions to the defendant's bond.  For a motion to be filed to add conditions of bond, the victim needs to file a complaint with the investigating agency and forward to the DA's Office.  If there is a "no contact" order as a condition of bond and the defendant breaks that order, once again the victim should immediately notify the authorities and the complaint needs to be forwarded to the DA's Office as the defendant's bond may be revoked and they can be returned to jail for violation of bond conditions.  

As a victim of a crime that involved force (or threat of force) or as a family member homicide victim, how can I recover my money for medical or funeral expenses?

As a victim of such, you have a right to apply for certain out-of-pocket expenses with Crime Victims Reparations Board, through your local Sheriff’s Department. If you qualify, the Board can make application with the State for compensation (including emergency awards). You may also receive restitution from the defendant in your case as part of the court’s sentencing.

When will I receive restitution?

Normally, restitution is not received until the defendant either pleads guilty or is found guilty and the defendant is sentenced.  However, very rarely is the total amount of restitution owed to the victim ever paid in one lump sum.  If the defendant is placed on probation, a payment schedule is set up based on the total amount that is owed being divided by the number of months the defendant is on probation.  This minimum payment is due monthly by the defendant while on probation.  Judges are hesitant to revoke defendants for non-payment of restitution because once they are sent to jail restitution stops.  If a defendant is sent to jail and no probation is ordered the only possible way the victim may see any restitution is once the defendant is on parole.  At this time the parole board may order that restitution be made.  Very rarely do we receive restitution prior to conviction.  Even with all these efforts, some victims never receive restitution.  

How long will it take to receive any information from the District Attorney's Office?

Due to investigation and case load, it sometimes takes six to eight weeks for the arresting agency to submit a file to the DA’s office.  The file then goes to the prosecutor for screening before it is sent to the Victim Assistance Coordinator to notify the victims.  Once a course of action has been determined, the victim is notified.  

Why does it take so long to go to trial?

Due to time constraints, cases are set for trial based on the seriousness of the case and the date of its occurrence.  Other factors that affect the time frame for trials is the extreme backlog of cases and the limited amount of time we are given each month to try cases.  The average trial docket has anywhere from 100-150 cases per month and there are ONLY 5 days allotted each month to try cases with judges alternating every other month. With new crimes being committed every day, there is no end to a trial docket.

May I speak to the District Attorney?

Once the District Attorney’s Office receives a case, victims have a right to request a meeting with the prosecutor that is handling their case to be informed of how our office will proceed.  We prefer waiting to meet with a victim until the case has been forwarded to the DA's Office, that way the prosecutor is better informed on the circumstances surrounding the crime and can better answer accurately any questions the victim may have.

By law, it is improper for the prosecutor or anyone with the DA's Office to consult with the defendants once they have retained and/or been appointed an attorney for representation, except in the presence of said attorney.

I am a witness in a case, what will I need to do?    

You will need to contact the Victim Assistance Office in your parish; they will inform you of when you have to appear in court and if you have to bring any documents. Click here for the contact information for your DA office.

If the defendant is incarcerated, how can he be released?

In order for a defendant to be released, the following must occur:

    • No bond can be set and defendant can be released ROR (released on own recognizance) - normally with some conditions of bond attached.
    • Defendant must be brought before the judge within 72 hours of arrest for the bond amount to be set.  The presiding judge of the 72-hour hearing determines the appropriate bond based upon information he receives.  If it is a victim crime, there are normally conditions of bond attached. 
    • The defendant can always file a motion seeking a reduction in the original bond amount and the state always has the right to file a motion seeking an increase in a bond amount.  

How much is the defendant's bond?

Bond is determined by the type of crime committed and the seriousness of the injuries.  However, Article 334 of the code of criminal procedure does state some guidelines on bond amounts.  A person charged with a capital crime is not entitled to bond. 

How long will the defendant stay in jail?

If a defendant is capable of posting bond by coming up with 12% of the total bond, they can be released unless there is a hold on them for another agency (i.e. probation hold, charges for another parish).  If defendant is incapable of posting bond, he remains in jail until the charges are resolved.

What is the defendant charged with?

The crime(s) that a defendant is charged with is determined by the circumstances surrounding the incident in which the police are summoned to respond.  The police conduct an "investigation" to determine if they feel a crime has been committed and either issue a summons or arrest the defendant on criminal charges. Once their investigation is complete, the file is submitted to the DA's Office for review.  It is here that the charges may be upgraded, remain the same, or be declined.           

We did not press any charges: why are they there and how can we drop them?

Once an officer responds to a 911 call or due to some other reason, a complaint must be completed and a record of the response has to be logged.  After this occurs, a file is forwarded to the DA's Office by the investigating agency for prosecution.  A victim can go to the DA's Office and sign a drop slip request form asking that they consider dropping the charges.  However, the final decision rests with the DA's Office.  In the 16th JDC, we have a "no drop policy" regarding domestic violence cases; some type of intervention has to occur.

 

WHITE-COLLAR CRIME

What are the most common types of business embezzlement/fraud?

Examples are as follows: skimming cash, theft of accounts receivable payments, fraudulent accounts payable, kickbacks from vendors, payroll fraud, inventory theft and overstated business expenses.

How would you describe the typical employee who steals?

Unfortunately, the average employee who is caught stealing is generally a highly trusted employee who is considered to be a hard worker; in the community, the employee is respected and has no criminal record. Because the owner/manager trusts that employee there is less scrutiny given to the possibility of dishonesty.

Why does an employee commit fraud?

The vast majority of employees, who commit fraud, follow the behavior pattern described by Dr. Donald R. Cressey (1919-1987), in what has come to be known, as the Fraud Triangle Theory. In brief, it is as follows:

    • Motive or pressure – Some circumstance arises whereby the employee feels he/she needs more money and has no easy way of obtaining it; examples include, medical bills, credit card debt, gambling losses or uncontrollable need to live beyond your income.
    • Opportunity – The employee thinks that he/she will not get caught; that the fraud can occur without being discovered.
    • Rationalization – With some mental manipulation, the employee convinces themselves that it is okay to steal. They will say to themselves, “the company owes me; I deserve it”, “I’m borrowing the money and I’ll pay it back”, “my family has to have it” or “why shouldn't’t I have all the nice things that my friends have or that my boss has?"

How can I stop or discourage fraud in my business?

It is impossible, in just a few sentences, to give specific instructions on fraud prevention; businesses vary too much in size and in what they do. There can be an assortment of issues: the supermarket has a cashier skimming cash; the oilfield company with the purchasing agent getting kickbacks; the local insurance company has an agent keeping premiums; or an area manufacturer may have the accounts payable person paying personal bills with company checks.

There are a few general suggestions:

    • Realize that IT CAN HAPPEN TO ME! Any business can be the victim of employee fraud/embezzlement; have your eyes open
    • Put proper internal controls in place; where that is not possible, the owner/manager needs to have personal involvement (especially in areas of cash or the issuing of checks)
    • Conduct your business with high ethical standards; deal fairly with your employees and customers