What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behaviors used to gain power and control over another person. Abuse can be verbal, psychological, financial, sexual and physical. Domestic violence is not an isolated, individual event, but a series of behaviors used to control the victim. Domestic violence usually escalates over time and can result in serious injury or death.
Domestic violence is a crime. No one has the right to hurt or threaten you. If a partner or family member has victimized you, you have the right to seek legal protection. This can include calling the police, having the abuser arrested, going to court for an Order of Protection, or to testify and hold the offender accountable for the crime of Domestic Abuse Battery.
How do I know if I am battered?
It may be difficult to identify yourself as a battered person, but it is a critical first step. The following checklist may help you determine whether you or someone you know is a battered person.
Does the person you love…
- Track all of your time
- Constantly accuse you of being unfaithful
- Discourage your relationships with family and friends
- Prevent you from working or attending school
- Criticize you for little things
- Anger easily when drinking or on drugs
- Control all finances and force you to account in detail what you spent
- Humiliate you in front of others
- Destroy personal property or sentimental items
- Hit, punch, slap, kick, or bite you or the children
- Use or threaten to use a weapon against you
- Threaten to hurt you or the children
- Force you to have sex against your will
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you may indeed be in an abusive relationship. The abuse will not go away by itself.
Why does it happen?
Abusive behavior is learned. Even when not physically abused, children who observe family violence are emotionally abused children. They grow up thinking of violence as a way of solving problems. They tend to repeat or to accept the violent behaviors they have observed, and they become the next generation of abusers and victims.
***Children are 1500 times more likely to be abusers if they live in a home where domestic violence occurs***
Plaquemines Parish District Attorney’s Office Policy for Domestic Violence
The District Attorney’s Office in Plaquemines Parish has developed a no tolerance policy for domestic violence. Family life and the well-being of children is the number one priority. The importance of the prosecution’s response to domestic violence sends a message to the community that domestic violence will not be tolerated in Plaquemines Parish.
Plaquemines Parish District Attorney’s Office is Part of the Community Coordinated Response Team
Everyone involved in the criminal justice system’s response to domestic violence and stalking, from Police Dispatchers to Judges, must understand the complexity of these crimes and know how to intervene effectively. Prosecutors are in a unique position to influence other sectors of the criminal justice system about the gravity of these crimes. Prosecutorial strategy, including recommendations on charging and sentencing issues, can influence the court’s response. Proper intervention of misdemeanor cases and holding the offender accountable prevents the escalation of these cases into felonies.
The safety and welfare of the victims is an important goal of any prosecution intervention. This means that prosecutors and victim service providers must offer immediate protection, monitor the victim’s safety on a continuous basis and adjust their interventions to address the changing needs of the victims. Consistent, appropriate and responsible prosecution of domestic violence and stalking maximizes the effectiveness of the criminal justice response and enhances the safety of the victim.
Prosecutor’s Response to Domestic Violence Cases in Plaquemines Parish District Attorney’s Office
The Prosecutor’s responses to domestic violence cases in the Plaquemines Parish District Attorney’s Office are:
Establishing a NO DISMISSAL POLICY
AGGRESSIVE PROSECUTION– striving to protect victims and their children through intervention and swift processing of cases as quickly as possible. Establish early contact with the victim to emphasize the process of prosecution or entrance into a diversionary program.
DIVERSIONARY ALTERNATIVES TO PROSECUTION– Sometimes victims are given the choice to allow the offender the opportunity to complete a batterer intervention program. This program is designed to deter the offender from future violent behavior. Only first-time offenders with no convictions of felonies can be entered into this program and only with the signed permission of the victim.
SPECIALLY TRAINED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR– accompanies the victim to all hearings and court appearances, providing safety throughout the procedure. We provide the victim with information regarding courtroom orientation and trial preparation to minimize the trauma of testifying in a criminal court case. This helps the victims to understand procedures and terminology of the court system. Keeping a good relationship with a victim helps them come forward to hold the offender accountable. Often a victim will request to drop the charges of a domestic abuse case. However, due to the up rise in domestic violence crimes the Plaquemines Parish District Attorney’s Office will ordinarily deny the request. This puts the burden of prosecution on the State, not on the victim. This eliminates the likelihood of victim coercion on behalf of the perpetrator. The perpetrator learns that the State is pursuing the charges and that he or she must deal with the District Attorney’s Office.
The percentage of victims showing up to testify is about 90% thus making it highly likely to obtain successful pleas of guilty by the perpetrators without the need of a trial. Sufficient evidence is acquired with photographs and the police and victim being present and ready to testify. Often times, prosecution will be tried even if a victim cannot attend.
After a perpetrator has plead guilty or has been found guilty, it is necessary to have good monitoring of the sentence of a domestic violence case. Twenty-six weeks of domestic violence counseling and substance abuse counseling is ordered. Random drug testing may be necessary. The District Attorney’s Office will make ensure that probation officers are monitoring the offenders consistently. The steps in this program are necessary to stop the cycle of violence.
Repetition of domestic violence arrests in Plaquemines Parish are low because of successful interventions, holding the offenders accountable and a NO DISMISSAL POLICY. When repeat offenses do occur, offenders find themselves facing additional sentencing due to it being a second offense, with a third offense becoming a felony and a 4th offense carrying a ten-year jail term.
The 26 weeks of domestic violence counseling that an offender is required to complete is designed to calm or “unwind” the batterer. It is a course administered by qualified professionals to teach the offender new skills to handle the anger. Domestic violence is a learned behavior, but with proper counseling, it can become unlearned.
The Plaquemines Parish District Attorney’s Office has specially trained victim assistance coordinators. These coordinators can determine risk assessment and provide victims with safety plans, assistance in obtaining a restraining order, referrals to shelters, counseling and support groups for victims and children, legal aid, 911 cell phones, victim assistance and notification and criminal justice information will be provided to victims who need to escape an abusive relationship.
Are you aware?
Is domestic violence “Just a Family Matter”? Years in the past it was a matter that was private in families and “swept under the rug”. It was “nobody else’s business”. There were no services or agencies in which to acquire the much-needed assistance to escape the abusive relationship. Changing times and better education has helped victims understand that there are now resources available to them.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS A CRIME AND IT IS OUR BUSINESS.
The Investigations Department is led by the chief investigator and comprises investigators who are assigned to the various subdivisions of the office, including the Felony Trials Unit, Juvenile Prosecution/Child Support Units, Family Violence Unit, Screening, and the Victim/Witness Coordinating Unit.
The primary function of the District Attorney’s Investigator (DAI) is to provide support and resources to the assistant district attorneys prior to, during and after the prosecution of a criminal case. The DAI is also responsible for receiving criminal complaints from the public that have not been referred to the Louisiana Attorney General, Louisiana State Police or the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office as well as initiating and investigating criminal public corruption investigations.
Among their varied duties, DAIs are responsible for collating the detailed investigation of cases filed by local law enforcement agencies; establishing and maintaining contact with victims and witnesses throughout the trial process; collaborating with prosecutors on trial preparation and strategy; marshaling evidence, police personnel and civilian witnesses for court purposes; compiling information on unregistered sex offenders; participating in the collection of unpaid child support; addressing consumer fraud and worthless check complaints; and assisting families in need of services.
The Office of the District Attorney prosecutes criminal cases involving adult defendants (17 years of age or older) charged with violations of state criminal laws. Most of the state laws prosecuted are in Title 14 and Title 40 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes.
Criminal charges are presented to this office by the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, and by federal agencies such as the FBI, DEA, and ATF.
Criminal charges are “screened” or “reviewed” by the District Attorney or one of the Assistant District Attorneys to determine if formal charges should be filed with the Court, or if a Grand Jury is required to proceed further.
Flow charts are attached here to show the process a charge goes through before it is completed.
The District Attorney’s Office Misdemeanor Division prosecutes all misdemeanor, wildlife and fisheries and traffic cases. Misdemeanors are those violations that are punishable by a fine not exceeding $1,000 or by imprisonment not exceeding six months or both. They range from charges of drunk driving to simple assault, and theft to shoplifting. The misdemeanor courts are held in both Division A and Division B in the 25th Judicial District Court.
Traffic diversion is available for certain defendants charged with traffic offenses. The program enables the defendant to avoid a conviction while being held accountable for his or her violation of the law through supervision, payment of costs and fines, participation in educational or treatment programs and other requirements as warranted. Upon successful completion of the program, charges are dismissed.
If the Assistant District Attorney (A.D.A.) finds probable cause for the offense for which the defendant was arrested and the A.D.A. determines that the defendant qualifies for pretrial intervention, the A.D.A. will file a bill of information and then refer the file to Pretrial intervention.
Two Intervention Services are available for TRAFFIC offenses handled by the Office of the 25th Judicial District Attorney:
- Pretrial Dismissal – In the event of a non-collision/accident, minor, non-status (suspension, revocation, license &/or inspection) traffic ticket and a clean traffic and driving record and NO prior dismissals of previous traffic tickets, the driver will receive notice of eligibility and instructions on enrolling and completing the District Attorney for the 25th Judicial District Driver’s Intervention Program. This will require attendance at an online course, review of educational materials and the taking & passing of an online examination. Upon completion, the traffic charge will be dismissed.
- L.C.Cr.P. Art 892.1 Dismissal – In the event of any other traffic ticket/offense and all issues are resolved regarding the offense, clean driving record with no prior successful completion of any driver’s education, training or improvement course, the defendant will receive notice of eligibility for an Article 892.1 and instructions on enrolling and completing the program authorized and directed by the District Judges for the 25th Judicial District. This will require compliance of the terms of the program as administered by the District Judges for the 25th Judicial District. The defendant will pay the fine, court costs & fees. Upon completion, the conviction will be set aside and the traffic charge will be dismissed.
Hot Check Program
As a result of such checks being uncollectible due to “non-sufficient funds (NSF)” or “closed accounts”, the District Attorney’s Office operates a Hot Check Program. The purpose is to assist merchants and citizens in collecting funds due to them, and in enforcing the applicable criminal laws.
The following documents explain how to file a “Hot Check” complaint with our office. Please read the instructions carefully. Before you contact our office with a hot check complaint you must send a “10 Day Demand Letter” and complete the “Affidavit of Criminal Complaint.”
Please obtain a Checks Package from the Hot Check Program (or download the file above).
- You will need to provide the program with the original check that has been returned from the bank and has the proper bank processing stamps: NSF/ACCOUNT CLOSED/INSUFFICIENT FUNDS
- The check must have been accepted by you or your employee at a location in the Parish of Plaquemines.
- You must provide us with the name and address and telephone number of your employee who actually received the check and who must be willing to testify to those facts at trial. Checks received by mail cannot generally be prosecuted.
- The check must have been exchanged for goods and services actually provided by you to the check writer.
- Your employee must have collected proof of the check writer’s identification at the time of acceptance of the check, such as driver’s license information (a contemporaneous copy is preferred), birth date, and social security number.
- You must provide the program with a copy of the legally required “10 Day Demand Letter” as well as the original certified mail return receipt.
- Our hot check program will not accept a check for prosecution if you have entered into any agreements with the check writer concerning payment of the check, loan of the check amount or other financial transactions.
- Checks that will not be accepted by our hot check program include those issued as part of a loan agreement, those that have been pre- or post-dated, those involving transactions for other than goods and services, and those which have been “stopped” due to disagreements between the merchant and the check writer.
- Checks issued by a company or an individual in bankruptcy may require additional information to proceed with prosecution.
- Checks that are not accepted by our hot check program may still be prosecuted by other sections of the District Attorney’s office when sufficient proof of a criminal act exists.
FOR CHECK WRITERS
Intentionally writing one “worthless” check can constitute a crime punishable by imprisonment at hard labor. It is in your best interest to quickly resolve any payment issues you have with a merchant about a check you have written. Understand that once the Office of the District Attorney has received a worthless check for prosecution, in addition to the full amount of restitution due the merchant, you will also be required to pay the fines, fees, and court costs which accrue.
NOTE: Any payments made to the District Attorney’s Office, including those for worthless checks, must be made in the form of a money order. Our office cannot accept cash or personal checks.
Who Do I Call?
AN ALTERNATIVE TO PROSECUTION
What is the Purpose of the Programs?
The programs are designed to meet the needs of certain nonviolent offenders in an attempt to; deter their future criminal or disorderly behavior, to minimize loss to victims of these crimes through payment of restitution by the offender; to serve the courts by reducing the number of less serious cases, permitting more time for the more serious crimes and to protect the community by closely supervising the accused following arrest until final disposition of the case.
What are the DA Diversion Programs?
The DA Diversion Programs are offered to certain offenders who qualify for participation as an alternative to prosecution. Participants receive coordinated assistance in personal and group counseling, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and other community agencies appropriate to their needs. The DA Diversion Programs consist of the Adult Crimes Diversion, Juvenile Crimes Diversion and Traffic Diversion. Each of these has its own eligibility criteria and program requirements.
Juvenile Diversion Program
Traffic Diversion Program
Adult Diversion Program
To be eligible for participation in the adult diversion programs, individuals will need to meet the following criteria.
- Limited to nonviolent crimes;
- Must not have a prior criminal history;
- Must not have a prior traffic violation history.
- Restitution when required;
- Drug-related; Drug testing and/or counseling;
- No continuing pattern of criminal behavior;
- The individual must acknowledge his/her wrongdoing;
- The individual must show a good faith willingness to participate in the program.
- How are Participants Selected?
Offenders meeting the criteria are referred to the program following a review of the pending charges. After an inquiry is made of the offender’s prior criminal record and the victim is contacted, a letter is sent to the offender with an appointment time. At this appointment, the offender is interviewed and given an overview of the program. If the offender decides he or she would like to participate in the program, the pre-trial counselor will determine their eligibility. To help defray additional expenses in the application of the program services, a diversion fee is required, payable before the ending date of the diversion program.
How can I Participate?
If you have an attorney, you should consult with him or her. Otherwise, you may contact the Diversion Coordinator listed below or you may contact the Assistant District Attorney who is prosecuting your case.
What happens in the program?
Each participant will meet with the Counselor for individual meetings. Some participants may also be required to attend group meetings upon recommendations of the Counselor. One goal of counseling will be to help the participant gain an awareness of the legal and social consequences of criminal behavior. The Counselor will also assist the participant in any other problem areas. Referrals will be made to community agencies that can provide services relative to the participants’ needs. Also, community service may be required at a nonprofit organization.
Is participation mandatory and if not, what are the advantages to a defendant in choosing to participate?
Because the presumption of innocence applies to the period between arrest or citation and trial, program participation is completely voluntary and the right not to participate is explained to all potential participants. The advantages of participation are:
- Offers the defendant an opportunity for self-development and to gain awareness of the consequences of future criminal behavior;
- To avoid additional costs as related to further criminal prosecution;
- To avoid possible criminal conviction, incarceration, and/or fine;
- Allows a person to remain in the community with limited disruption to family life and employment;
- Upon successful completion, no further formal action will be taken on the case;
- On certain charges, the participant who completes the program satisfactorily may petition the court for expungement of the arrest record.
What are the Program requirements?
Since each case and type of crime is different, the requirements vary. Generally, the following is required:
- Drug testing and counseling
- Community Service Work
- Employment or attendance of schooling or training
- Mandatory appointments with your Diversion Coordinator
- Payment of Diversion Program Expenses
- Restitution to all Victims
- Remain free from all criminal activity and charges
- Other conditions may apply as decided the Diversion Coordinator
How long does a participant remain in the program?
Active participation may last from six months to two years. The exact duration of the program will depend on the seriousness of the offense, the attitude of the participant and how well the participant has met the goals of the program as determined by the Counselor.
What is required of a participant in order to complete the program successfully?
Participants must attend all sessions and keep all other appointments that are mutually agreed upon by the participant and Counselor. All participants must be employed or enrolled in school before they can be recommended for satisfactory termination. Restitution, if required, as well as diversion fees must be paid in full before program completion. A subsequent arrest or violation of program rules will result in the participant’s case being returned to the prosecution section of the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.
What happens when a participant enters and then completes the program?
When a participant enters the program, the pending charge is put on hold. When a participant completes the program satisfactorily, the pending charge is “Refused” or “Dismissed”, conditioned upon the participant complying with the requirements of the Pre-Trial Diversion Program.
Who Do I Call?
The Juvenile Section is responsible for the screening, filing, and prosecution of cases involving juveniles:
Juvenile Diversion Program
This program is designed to give first-time juvenile offenders between the ages of 10-16 an alternative to prosecution.
First-time juvenile offenders who commit traffic or non-violent misdemeanor offenses are not charged with a crime but allowed to enter a pre-trial diversion program rather than go to court for prosecution. Juveniles who accept the program must adhere to the guidelines for completion which may include, but and are not limited to the following:
Guidelines of Diversion Program:
- Duration is six (6) months from the date of enrollment.
- The juvenile will be randomly drug tested.
- A curfew will be imposed.
- A 250-word handwritten essay on the consequences, impact, and lessons learned from this experience.
- A handwritten apology letter to the victim (if applicable).
- Community service hours.
- For traffic violations, the offender must register for an online driving course and pass successfully.
- If a juvenile reoffends during the six-month period or does not fully comply then he/she is terminated
and placed on the juvenile docket for prosecution.
- Community-based services may be utilized upon request
Delinquency cases involve a child, under the age of seventeen (17), who violates a criminal law. La.Ch.C. art. 801, et seq. If a Petition for Delinquency is filed, the case is allotted to the Juvenile Division and the child will appear before the Honorable Michael D. Clement.
In some instances, the juvenile may qualify for entry into the Juvenile Diversion Program where a Juvenile Diversion Officer will supervise him or her. If the program is completed successfully, the charges are refused or dismissed.
Status offenses are cases in which a juvenile is truant, runs away, is ungovernable, or in habitual violation of lawful school rules. La.Ch.C. art. 726, et seq. These cases are prosecuted under the Family In Need of Services (F.I.N.S.) section of the Children’s Code. If adjudicated, the family will be provided services and supervised by a F.I.N.S. Case Manager employed by the court.
In some instances, the family may qualify for entry into the Informal Family In Need of Services program and a referral will be made.
Truancy matters are referred by schools in Plaquemines Parish when a child exceeds five (5) unexcused absences or tardies in a semester. La.R.S. 17:233. These matters are screened by the Assistant District Attorney and referred to the Truancy Hearing Officer who will schedule a conference at the school with the parents and child. Following the meeting and the recommendation of the hearing officer, the Assistant District Attorney will screen the case and decide the course of action, which may include, refusal, diversion, or prosecution. In cases of habitual truancy, parents may also be prosecuted for failure to send their children to school pursuant to La.R.S. 17:221
The Child Support Section (IV-D) provides services to both custodial and non-custodial parents of minor children seeking to establish, enforce, and/or modify child support. This service exists as a result of an agreement between the District Attorney and the State of Louisiana Department of Social Services, to provide support enforcement services to applicants.
To apply for child support, please complete the following application and send it with a money order in the amount of $25.00 to:
Support Enforcement Services
2235 Poydras Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70119
Telephone (800) 256-4650
Support Enforcement Services (S.E.S.) will review the application and contact you to schedule an appointment. The District Attorney’s Office will handle your case in court once it is referred from S.E.S. Once child support is established, any complaints of nonpayment or requests for modification shall be made to your S.E.S. caseworker who will evaluate your case and refer it to the District Attorney’s Office for further action.
Additional forms that may help you are the following:
Affidavit in Support of Establishing Paternity:
Children In Need Of Care
These cases involve children that are the victims of neglect or abuse. La.Ch.C. art. 601, et seq. These cases are worked in conjunction with the Department of Children and Family Services (D.C.F.S.). Once a Petition for Child in Need of Care is filed, the case is allotted to the Juvenile Division and the family will appear before the Honorable Michael D. Clement.
The District Attorney’s Office works in partnership with the following agencies to provide services to the children and families of our parish:
Project L.E.A.D. is a project of the Plaquemines Parish District Attorney’s Office. L.E.A.D. means “Legal Enrichment And Decision-making”, and the project is designed to help students recognize and analyze potential consequences of the difficult decisions they face during adolescence and beyond. By using a law-related education model, the students are exposed to the knowledge, skills, understanding and attitudes that are necessary to function effectively in a democratic, pluralistic society.
The 12 Project L.E.A.D. classes are taught by assistant district attorneys and other district attorney personnel to give students the intellectual tools needed to recognize the legal and social consequences of drugs and alcohol abuse, violence, bullying, and hate crimes. This law-related course of study focuses on the operation of the criminal justice system, culminating in a full-scale mock trial experience for the students, a tour of the parish prison, and a local government tour where the students meet local elected officials.
Visit the Project L.E.A.D. page by clicking here.
The District Attorney’s Office has obtained partial funding through V.O.C.A. Grant Number 2941 to create a Sexting Program to help identify possible victims of sexting and to instruct juveniles on the law pursuant to La.R.S. 14;81.1.1. The presentation is available at Plaquemines Parish School Board’s Safe Schools Night in the Fall semester. It is also being presented to all eighth-grade students in Plaquemines Parish schools in the Spring semester.
In 1996, the Louisiana Legislature enacted Revised Statute 16:17, which created the position of Victim Assistance Coordinator within the office of the District Attorney. With the creation of this position, victims have a professional in the DA’s Office whose job it is to ensure that victims’ rights are honored. The coordinator is an advocate for the rights of victims both in the courtroom and in the office. The victim is kept informed about the process of the case. Most importantly, the Victim Assistance Coordinator program is an integral part of the effective and efficient prosecution of criminals. The coordinator will ensure that the victims’ rights are honored and that victims are treated with dignity and respect.
The Victim Assistance Coordinator is also the liaison between the prosecutor and the victim. The coordinator not only keeps the victim aware of upcoming court proceedings but explains the proceedings to the victim. In addition, the coordinator provides information to the community about victim’s rights and works with various community groups on behalf of the rights of victims in the community.
All victims have certain rights:
- The right to reasonable notice and to be present and heard during all critical stages of pre- and post-conviction proceedings;
- The right to confer with the prosecution prior to final disposition of the case;
- The right to refuse to be interviewed by the accused or a representative of the accused;
- The right to review and comment on any pre- or post-sentence report;
- The right to a reasonably prompt conclusion of the case;
- The right to seek restitution;
- The right to be informed upon the release from custody or the escape of the accused or the offender.
If you as a victim need assistance, please contact:
It is the mission of the District Attorney’s Office to support and conserve our natural resources by prosecuting those who do not respect and value Louisiana’s Wildlife & Fisheries’ laws.
Plaquemines Parish is located in Region 8, District B and we are one of the top three coastal parishes in citations issued for wildlife and fish violations. The District Attorney’s office is committed to enforcing and prosecuting these laws, as well as educating the public about the importance of conservation.
Education takes place for first-time offenders through our diversion program. It is important for the public to know that fish and wildlife are renewable resources, therefore their protection by the prosecution of violations is essential in Wildlife & Fisheries survival.
Wildlife and Fisheries Diversion
The following fines for violations are payable WITHOUT a court appearance through the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office 504-934-6808.
- 56:301.1B Angling without a license.
- 56:302.3 Violate the recreational gear license requirements.
- 56:301.1B Angling without a saltwater license.
- 56:6(34) Failure to possess offshore landing permit.
- 56:449D Violation of stationary shrimp netting regulations.
- 56:444 Failure to display proper number on vessel.
- 56:449E Possession of less than 10% untagged or improperly tagged oysters.
- 56:103A Hunting without a residential license.
- 56:105B Bowhunting without a bow hunting license.
- 56:699.5 Failure to comply with hunter safety regulations.
- 56:103C(1) Hunting without a resident big game license.
- 56:143 Failure to wear hunter’s orange.
- 56:103C(2) Hunting without a muzzleloader license.
- 34:851.20F Expired boat registration certificate.
- 34:851:21 Improper boat numbers.
- 34:851.24B Improper running lights.
- 34:851:24F Failure to comply with personal floatation devices requirements.
- 34:85124F Failure to possess personal floatation devices for each person under 17 while underway.
- 34:851.24F Failure to comply with personal floatation requirements less than 16 ft tiller outboard.