Criminal Nonsupport Handbook
The OAG and Criminal Nonsupport Cases
What the OAG Can Do
What the OAG Can Do To Help the Prosecutor
What the OAG Cannot Do
The OAG and the Prosecutor
The role of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) in criminal nonsupport cases is to provide support and assistance to enable local prosecutors to see that justice is served. The discretion to prosecute any case remains with the district or county attorney. The support services offered will vary depending on the needs and circumstances of each jurisdiction.
The OAG can identify criminal nonsupport cases suitable for prosecution from its caseload of more than 900,000 statewide.
The OAG can investigate cases to determine if they are suitable for criminal nonsupport prosecution. Each case under consideration for referral for prosecution is assigned to a field investigator. These investigators, many of whom are former law enforcement personnel, are specially trained to research child support cases for prosecution. Their duties include the following:
- collecting and reviewing the original order establishing the support obligation to ensure the obligor received proper notice and the order is not subject to collateral attack
- collecting and reviewing any modifications and civil enforcement actions
- reviewing the financial information to ensure proper credit was given for all payment
- contacting the obligee to ensure no payments were received that were not included in the official payment records
- reviewing the obligor's wage and income records to ensure the obligor had the ability to pay support as ordered
- reviewing the OAG’s case file and computer system to identify any potential difficulties with the case
- reviewing the court records and discussing the case with the AAGs to determine if a civil enforcement remedy may be more appropriate than criminal prosecution
- determining if the case meets the guidelines established by the local prosecutor for a criminal nonsupport referral
If a case meets the guidelines established by the local prosecutor, the OAG can refer the case to the prosecutor for consideration of possible criminal action, along with a specific case package containing all the relevant orders, pleadings, and records.
The OAG can assist the prosecutor by pre-screening cases that obligees bring to the prosecutor. We can work only on OAG child support cases. If the obligees do not have a case, they must apply for our services. Once that happens, the cases are assigned to a field investigator.
Prepare a Case for the Grand Jury
Upon request, the OAG can assist the prosecutor in preparing a case for presentation to the grand jury. Each case accepted for prosecution is assigned to an AAG in the local field office, often a former prosecutor, and a field investigator. The AAG reviews the field investigator's report, the documents, pleadings, case file, and computer and financial records to ensure the case is clean and there are no "surprises." The field investigator gathers additional documents and information as needed.
Present a Case to the Grand Jury
The OAG's field investigator can assist the prosecutor in presenting the criminal nonsupport case to the grand jury. Field investigators are trained and experienced in testifying before grand juries and are knowledgeable about all phases of OAG child support enforcement.
Locate the Obligor
The OAG can assist the prosecutor in locating the obligor. Through the Child Support Evader program, the OAG seeks the public's help in finding parents wanted for criminal nonsupport by displaying their pictures in newspapers, on posters, and on the OAG's Web site.
Prepare a Case for Trial
The OAG can assist the prosecutor in preparing the case for trial. Backed by Board Certified Family Law Specialists, the AAG can answer questions and produce briefs on any relevant legal topic. The AAG can assist in drafting indictments, responses to defensive motions, and evidentiary and trial motions. OAG staff with personal knowledge of the case can provide factual evidence regarding the specific activities of the obligor and obligee, and information regarding the OAG's child support payment records.
Try a Case
The OAG can assist the prosecutor in trying the case. The AAG can sit second chair and the OAG staff can testify regarding the order creating the child support obligation, any modifications, and the payment records. If the obligor raises the affirmative defense of inability to pay, the field investigator can testify regarding the obligor's employment and income history.
Set Up Restitution
The OAG can assist the prosecutor in setting up terms of probation to ensure the obligor's restitution payments are credited against the child support obligation and go to support the children.
Inform the Public
The OAG can assist the prosecutor in raising public awareness about the basic elements of the case and how it was resolved to benefit the children. The community expects children to be supported, and one purpose of prosecution is to meet that expectation.
Release Confidential Information
Some information, such as tax records and application forms, available to the OAG is confidential pursuant to federal and state law. The OAG cannot release this confidential information to a prosecutor. However, the OAG can provide the prosecutor with all the information necessary to successfully prosecute the criminal nonsupport case.
Prosecute a Case without You
The distinction and division of responsibilities between civil enforcement and criminal prosecution of nonsupport are clear. The OAG cannot prosecute criminal nonsupport cases. It can only assist the local prosecutor to the extent requested.
The scope and extent of the services the OAG offers to prosecutors eliminates most of the uncertainty of prosecuting criminal nonsupport cases, especially for those prosecutors who do not have the available resources to develop a specialized criminal nonsupport program. The OAG is here to assist.
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