The Civil Division assists the County Attorney in advising and representing the Rice County Board of Commissioners and other County departments on legal matters specifically providing legal advice to County officials in the area of contracts, employment, environmental law, real estate acquisition, condemnation, data practices, zoning, tax assessment and appeals.
This division also commences actions to establish and enforce child support obligations, establish paternity of a child, and through civil commitment proceedings, involuntarily commit individuals who meet the definitions of mentally ill, chemically dependent, developmentally disabled, mentally ill and dangerous, sexually dangerous person or sexually psychopathic personality. Forfeiture actions, following commission of a crime, are also the responsibility of the civil division.
Child Support and Paternity
The County Attorney's Office and the Child Support Unit of Rice County Social Services work together to assist parents in obtaining financial support for their children. This assistance may involve establishing a child support obligation, initiating an enforcement action to ensure payment arising from a previously established obligation, locating noncustodial parents, establishing paternity and collecting support. Support collections may include income withholding, interception of tax refunds, contempt of court charges, credit reporting and judgment docketing. Click here for more information.
The goal of Minnesota's support laws is to have the noncustodial parent provide support according to their ability rather than have the burden fall solely upon the custodial parent and/or the taxpayer.
Mentally Ill/Chemically Dependent/ Developmentally Delayed
Civil commitment proceedings are initiated by a Petition. Any interested party may prepare and present a petition for commitment but most commonly, Rice County Social Services acts as the Petitioner. The petition must be accompanied by an Examiner's Statement which typically requests that the individual be placed involuntarily on a court hold pending the outcome of a commitment proceeding. Social Services collects information, including medical documents and prepares a Pre-petition Screening Report. This report along with supporting documentation is provided to the County Attorney's office and if there is sufficient evidence to prove the underlying condition and behaviors, a petition is filed with the Court.
Once a petition is filed, an attorney is appointed to represent the patient. A preliminary hearing is set and the Court reviews the appropriateness of an involuntary hold. An examiner is also appointed to conduct an interview with the patient and prepare a written report for the Court. At the final hearing the court determines, after testimony and submission of evidence, if the statutory criteria have been met for commitment.
In these categories of cases, the initial commitment period is for six months.
These case types require additional statutory processes, due in large part to the indefinite duration of the commitment. Placement for MI&D commitments is at the Minnesota Security Hospital. SDP/SPP commitment placements are to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program at Moose Lake or St. Peter.
Forfeiture actions are commenced to ensure that either criminal behavior is not profitable or that an instrumentality of the crime cannot be used again.