Attorney Responsibilities

The Clay County Attorney's Office strives to provide the highest quality legal services possible to serve the citizens of Clay County.

Criminal Law

The County Attorney is the chief prosecutor for crimes that occur within a county.

  • Felonies are the most serious crimes, carrying a penalty of more than 1 year in prison. The Clay County Attorney's Office prosecutes all felonies in Clay County.
  • Gross misdemeanors carry a penalty of up to 1 year in jail and are primarily the responsibility of the County Attorney.
  • Misdemeanors carry a penalty of up to 90 days in jail.
  • The County Attorney's Office has contracted with the cities of Moorhead, Dilworth, Barnesville, Hawley and Glyndon to provide criminal prosecution services.

Civil Law

Generally the County Attorney is not permitted to represent or provide legal advice to private citizens. The County Attorney is the legal advisor for the county Board of Commissioners, other county officials, and county departments.

This duty includes:

  • Providing legal advice to county officials in areas including contract, labor, environmental, real estate acquisition and data privacy laws
  • Representing the county in all civil litigation in which the county is involved, including defending the county in lawsuits and real estate tax challenges, and representing the county in welfare and licensing appeals
  • Initiating litigation on behalf of the county for purposes of acquiring land for road improvements or other public purpose
  • Protecting the environment through enforcement of county solid and hazardous waste ordinances
  • Obtaining civil judgments
  • Forfeiting property used in connection with criminal activity
  • Bringing actions to obtain or enforce child support obligations or establish the paternity of a child, whenever federal welfare benefits are paid out. Parents not receiving federal welfare benefits may also apply for and receive these child support enforcement and establishment services through Clay County Social Services. There is a $25 application fee

Juvenile & Protective Services

Under this area of responsibility, the County Attorney:

  • Prosecutes juvenile delinquency matters involving juveniles accused of committing crimes within the county
  • Initiates children in need of protection or services (CHIPS) petitions to protect abused or neglected children in the county
  • Starts legal proceedings to protect the health and safety of vulnerable adults within the county
  • Files involuntary commitment actions to provide necessary treatment for individuals who are mentally ill, chemically dependent, or mentally handicapped