The first and foremost duty and obligation of the District Attorney’s office is that of prosecuting all felony criminal cases in the 18th Judicial District.  Additionally, the District Attorney’s office is responsible for prosecuting all misdemeanor violations wherein charges are initiated by the Sheriff’s office or the State police, including traffic citations.  In so doing, the District Attorney sets policies and goals of the office and directs the activities of the office, which include the following:

The Juvenile Division evaluates complaints against juvenile offenders and prosecutes all juveniles charged with criminal acts.   In addition, the division handles abuse and neglect cases where children are themselves the victims.

The Child Support Enforcement Division prosecutes parents criminally for failure to meet their financial obligation to support their children. The division collects and distributes monies recouped to certified petitioners and to AFDC.

Support Enforcement Services are available for applicants who receive:

  • AFDC
  • Foster Care cases, also known as IV-E cases (foster care cases in which the child received or may have been eligible for AFDC when he or she was judicially removed from the home)
  • Non-IV-E Medicaid, and
  • Non-AFDC Medicaid

The same services are also available to applicants who are not on any of the above forms of assistance and who pay a one-time $25.00 application fee. These cases are called non-AFDC cases. Additionally, a non-resident applicant who applies for services through the IV-D agency in his state is also eligible for assistance from the Louisiana IV-D Program.

IV-D Program Functions:
There are five major program services in child support enforcement:

  1. Absent parent location (also known as Parent Locate)
  2. Establishment of paternity
  3. Establishment of support obligation, including medical support obligations
  4. Collection and distribution of support payments, including spousal support in conjunction with child support order
  5. Enforcement of support obligation, including medical and spousal

UIFSA went into effect on January 1, 1996, making Louisiana the 26th state to adopt it. This law is part of a national effort to streamline the establishment and collection of child support obligations across state lines. It implements a one order system, which can be amended and modified as necessary only by the state which has continuing exclusive jurisdiction.

Louisiana’s new license suspension statutes (La. R.S. 9:315.32 et seq.), which permits the suspension and/or revocation of various professional, recreational and driver’s licenses are a powerful new tool in collecting past due child support.  Louisiana Supreme Court Rule19A renders attorneys who fail to pay child support, ineligible to practice law after a contradictory hearing.

The following is an illustrative list of other remedies available to District Attorneys in establishing and collecting child support:

  • Court ordered blood testing of alleged fathers
  • Income assignment in both interstate and intrastate cases
  • Federal tax refund offsets
  • Louisiana state tax refund offsets
  • Reporting delinquency information to credit bureaus
  • Louisiana Lottery offset against winnings for child support arrears
  • Immediate income assignment orders are required on all new or modified orders for child support under La.R.S. 46:236.3; income can be assigned from: worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment benefits, federal government employees, military personnel
  • Bond sanctions for self-employed parents
  • Unless it is protected by the Longshoreman’s Act

The Louisiana Automated Support Enforcement System or LASES, is a computer system designed to support the administration and carrying out of Louisiana’s IV-D child support program. It received a full federal certification in 1996.

Other federal legislation includes the Child Support Recovery Act which creates a federal crime for willfully failing to pay a past due support obligation with respect to a child who resides in another state. The Full Faith and Credit for Child Support Orders Act prohibits states from modifying another states’ orders unless certain jurisdictional requirements are met. The intent of this law is to avoid establishment of a new order in a case where there is already an existing order.

For more information, contact Michelle Hebert or Mary Pearce at 225.625.3471 or m.hebert@18thjdc.org or m.pearce@18thjdc.org

The Elder Abuse Protection Unit is dedicated to assisting victims of crime who are 60 years of age or older. Many crimes against the elderly involve financial fraud, theft by deception, identity theft, abuse of a power of attorney, neglect or physical abuse. Financial abuse often involves a family member. Here at the District Attorney’s Office, we are sensitive to the difficulties associated with reporting this kind of abuse. Please understand that you are not alone, either as a victim or as a family member of an elderly victim. Call us with questions, even if you are wondering where to call for assistance.

In addition to prosecuting crimes against seniors, the District Attorney’s Elder Abuse Protection Unit also considers education part of our mission. We often partner with the appropriate organizations to help teach seniors how to protect themselves and to train police, public safety, and fire personnel how to spot elder abuse and handle such cases.

To report elder abuse cases, please call your local Sheriff’s Office.

This program is designed as an alternative to prosecution for first time, non-violent offenders. 

Support for pre-trial diversion programs is based on the belief that not every criminal violation warrants a formal courtroom prosecution. By sparing appropriately selected first time offenders the expense of trial and the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction, successful divertees are restored to useful citizenship.

The Pre-trial Diversion Program represents one of the most promising correctional treatment innovations in recent years. Adaptable both to adult and juvenile correctional populations, the concept has received increasing recognition and endorsement as a rehabilitative technique for early and youthful offenders. The technique is to be distinguished from informal diversion practices, in that pre-trial (diversion) referrals are based on:

  • formalized eligibility criteria;
  • required participation in manpower, counseling, job placement and educational services
  • for defendants placed in the programs, and
  • utilization of a real alternative to official court processing, i.e. dismissal of formal charges for successful participants

Given the current drain on correctional resources, prosecutors nationwide are recognizing the need to alternatives to incarceration. When asked to name the areas viewed as most important for future research and evaluation, prosecutors and other groups named alternative sanctions as a top priority.

The following steps comprise the Iberville, West Baton Rouge & Pointe Coupee Parishes District Attorney’s Office Pre-trial Intervention Program:

  1. Transfer agency submits offense report to the District Attorney.
    2.  District Attorney determines if the case appears to be suitable for Pre-trial Intervention.
    3.  Case is forwarded to the Director of the Pre-trial Program.
    4.  Director schedules a screening appointment, at which time the following procedures are performed:
  • Candidate is notified that this program is strictly voluntary and upon completion of the program, charges are dismissed.
  • Criminal history is obtained
  • Victim is contacted (if required).
  • Arresting Officer is contacted (if necessary).
  1. If the individual is considered a candidate for the program, he is placed on probation for up to 2 years. Conditions of probation may include community service, counseling (i.e. anger management, alcohol, drug counseling, MADD, etc.) and/or restitution.
    6. Only first time offenders may be eligible for P.T.D.
    7.  If the individual is declined, the case is returned to the prosecutor along with an explanation for being declined.  Jessel Ourso is responsible for the day to day operations of the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s P.T.D. Program.  He can be contacted at the Plaquemine Office at (225) 687-5210.
    E-Mail Jessel:  jourso@18thjda.org

Assistant District Attorneys review pardon and parole applications of defendants convicted in Iberville, West Baton Rouge & Pointe Coupee Parishes. If the Assistant District Attorney determines that the request is from an inmate whose release poses a danger to others, the request will be opposed.

To effectively process and/or prosecute offenders under the Issuing Worthless Checks Law, Louisiana Statute 14:71.

To effectively process and/or prosecute offenders under the Issuing Worthless Checks Law, Louisiana Revised Statute 14:71, this office has adopted the following procedures for filing complaints:

  1. The check must have been written in Iberville, West Baton Rouge, or Pointe Coupee Parish.
  2. The check must have been exchanged for something of value (cash, merchandise, services, etc.)
  3. The check must have been processed through the banking system and subsequently stamped NSF, ACCOUNT CLOSED, NO ACCOUNT ON FILE, or ACCOUNT NOT FOUND.
  4. Complete identification is required for prosecution including the check insurer’s address, driver’s license number, date of birth and sex. This information should be obtained from the check issuer at the time the check is accepted. The name of the person signing the check must be obtained on company checks. The clerk accepting the check must initial the check, (this is important for prosecution).
  5. You must send a 10-day demand letter via certified U.S. Mail. The letter must be sent certified, return receipt requested and must give the writer 10 days from the date of their signature on the certified return receipt to pay in full directly to you. Do not accept any partial payments. Either the signed receipt from the certified letter or the correspondence (unopened) marked refused or unclaimed will be returned to you by the post office.
  6. Once the certified mail process has been completed, the following documentation must be forwarded to the Iberville, West Baton Rouge & Pointe Coupee Parishes.
    • Check(s)Copy of the letter you sent
    • Postal documentation from the certified letter *Send us the original documentation and keep a copy for your records.
  7. You must keep this office informed of any change of address or telephone number in the event that we need to contact you.
  8. Once a complaint has been filed with this office, you may not accept payment directly from the check issuer. You must instruct the check issuer to contact the District Attorney’s Office for payment instructions. 

You must instruct the check issuer to contact the appropriate office for payment instructions:

Iberville – 225.687.5210, Pointe Coupee – 225.638.5531, West Baton Rouge – Sheriff’s Office 225.343.9234.

INELIGIBLE BAD CHECKS

  1. Stop-payment checks.
  2. Payroll checks.
  3. Postdated checks. (Postdated checks constitute promissory notes)

E-Mail Jessel Ourso:  jourso@18thjdc.org

The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s office also currently serves as the legal advisor to many public bodies within the three parishes, including, but not limited to the Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury, the West Baton Rouge Parish Council, the Iberville Parish School Board, the West Baton Rouge Parish School Board, the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board, the Iberville Parish Council, and the Atchafalaya Basin Levee District.

Victim/Witness Assistance Program
The purpose for the Victim/Witness Assistance Program is to ensure that victims and witnesses of crime are treated with dignity, respect, courtesy and sensitivity, and that the rights as provided by Louisiana law are honored and protected.

In 1996, the Louisiana Legislature enacted Revised Statue 16:17, which created the position of “Victim Assistance Coordinator” within the office of the District Attorney. The Victim Assistance Coordinator (VAC) is an advocate for the rights of the victim, both in the courtroom and in the office. The victim is kept informed about the progress of the case, and any questions the victim may have about the process are answered. The VAC is also a liaison between the prosecutor and the victim. In this role, the coordinator not only keeps the victim aware of upcoming court proceedings, but explains the proceedings to the victim. The coordinator is a liaison between the victim and the penal system and accompanies victims to parole and pardon board hearings. The coordinator also provides information to the community about victims’ rights and works with various community groups on behalf of the victims of crime.

In addition to these services, the Victim/Witness Assistance Coordinator can assist victims of crime in completing a victim impact statement to determine financial losses suffered by the victim. The coordinator also provides referrals to community-based programs for financial and emotional support such as the Crime Victims Reparations Program and counseling agencies. The coordinator provides notification to victims and witnesses of court proceedings, accompanies victims and witnesses to court, provides courtroom orientation, when needed, coordinates meetings between the victim and witness with the prosecuting attorney on their case and provides a host of other services.

Victim Assistance Coordinator:

Daphne LaPrairie and Lisa Jarreau are the Victim Assistance Coordinators for the DA’s office. They can be contacted at 225.687.5210 or at dlaprairie@18thjda.org  or ljarreau@18thjda.org