Duties of the County Attorney

Civil Advice
Andrew F. Van Der Maaten is the Winneshiek County Attorney.
The county attorney is the legal advisor for the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors, county department heads and other county agencies.  As the legal advisor for the county, the county attorney serves in a role that is similar to that of an in-house corporate counsel.  The county attorney provides legal advice to the County Board and county departments to assist the county in providing many public services.  Other areas of civil advice include defending challenges to property tax values, enforcing county environment and health ordinances, and forfeiting property used in connection with criminal activity.

Adult Prosecution
The county attorney is the chief prosecutor for crimes which occur within Winneshiek County.  Prosecution involves bringing charges against a party, trying the case in court, and making sentencing recommendations.  The county attorney prosecutes felony and misdemeanor offenses.

Juvenile Prosecution
The county attorney is the prosecutor in all cases involving juvenile offenders.  These range from curfew violations to the most serious felony criminal behavior.  While a goal of juvenile court is rehabilitation of offenders, due to public safety concerns, the county attorney may ask the court to order a juvenile to stand trial as an adult.

Victim/Witness Assistance
The county attorney provides assistance and support to the victims and witnesses who play a vital role in the criminal justice system.  They advise victims of crime of their legal rights.  The county attorney’s office works closely with the various victim service groups within the county.  The county attorney will request restitution for losses suffered by crime victims.

Family Services
The county attorney initiates ChINA (Child In Need of Assistance) petitions to protect abused or neglected children in the county.   The county attorney starts legal proceedings to protect the health and safety of vulnerable adults within the county when they are in need of assistance.  The county attorney also represents person who have filed involuntary commitment actions to provide necessary treatment for individuals who are mentally ill or chemically dependent.

The County Attorney DOES:

  • Prosecute all violations of state criminal laws and county ordinances.
  • Provide legal advice to the Board of Supervisors and County and Township Officers concerning County matters.
  • Represent and defend the state, county and its officers in officially related cases.
  • Recover all monies (debts, fines, penalties, etc.) owing to the state or county.
  • Present all mental health commitment proceedings and all juvenile delinquency and child in need of assistance cases.
  • In his or her OFFICIAL capacity, the County Attorney is NOT a lawyer for a private group or person.

Your County Attorney in his OFFICIAL capacity, DOES NOT:

  • Give legal advice to or represent private groups or persons as County Attorney.
  • File lawsuits for private persons or defend them against lawsuits, including actions for dissolution of marriage.
  • Prepare wills, deeds or other legal documents for private individuals.