Graves County Fiscal Court Logo

270-247-3626

1102 Paris Rd. Suite 2
Mayfield, KY 42066

8:00 A.M. – 4:30 P.M.
Monday – Friday

County Attourny

The Graves County Attorney’s office is comprised of a team of more than 3 attorneys, child support staff, and administrative and paralegal assistants. Under the Kentucky law, the responsibilities of this office include serving as the legal adviser to the Graves County Fiscal Court as well as all county officials, officers, boards, and special districts. This office also collects court-ordered child support payments and prosecutes all misdemeanor crimes in the county, including DUIs, assaults, bad checks, thefts, juvenile offenses, and a multitude of other statutory offenses.
Below you will find links to a number of resources provided to educate the community about the Graves County Attorney’s Office and the services we provide. Follow the links to learn about each service offering.

Services Provided:
Bad Check Enforcement
Crime Victim Advocacy
Child Support Enforcement
Delinquent Tax Collection
Domestic Violence Resources
Elder Abuse
File a Citizen’s Complaint
Guardianship
Involuntary Drug & Alcohol Treatment
Involuntary Mental Health Treatment
Juvenile Prosecutorial and Protection Duties
Traffic Safety Program

Department Leadership
John Cunningham
gca@vci.net
270-247-6321

Office Address
1102 Paris Rd. Suite 2
Mayfield, KY 42066

Hours of Operation
Monday-Friday 8:00am -4:30pm

Bad Check Enforcement

Each year merchants lose millions of dollars due to receiving bad checks. Over 8,000 bad checks are written per day in Kentucky. This loss to businesses pushes the cost of goods and services higher. Make no mistake, writing a worthless check is a crime.
In an effort to address this problem, the Graves County Attorney’s Office administers a bad check enforcement program. It is a restitution driven program. Those that won’t pay will be vigorously prosecuted. Collecting on bad checks are a problem for most businesses because of the time and cost involved outweigh the benefit of having the debt paid.  However, the Graves County Attorney’s Office is here to help.

How the Bad Check Enforcement Program Works
If you are unable to collect on a bad check someone gives you, you may bring the check to the Graves County Attorney’s Office at the Graves County Courthouse, 101 East South Street, Mayfield, Kentucky, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and we will attempt to collect on that check for you.

You should have a valid street address and be able to identify the maker of the check. If we issue criminal charges, the Sheriff cannot serve the defendant at a P. O. Box address. Also if criminal charges are necessary, we will need a date of birth, social security number, or driver’s license number for the Defendant.

After you come to our office we will then send a letter notifying the party that they have ten (10) business days within which to make the check good. The writer of the check will receive a letter from our office along demanding payment for the amount of the check, plus fees which include an additional $50 to you the merchant and a $50 fee to the County Attorney’s Office for administering the program.

If the individual does not make the check good within ten (10) business days, our office will call the merchant to come in to sign criminal charges for THEFT BY DECEPTION. Once the criminal complaint is signed, the defendant will receive a summons to appear in Court. You will not need to be present for the arraignment. If the person pleads guilty at the arraignment, the court will make sure that the defendant is required to pay off the bad check. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case will be set for a trial and you will likely be subpoenaed. It is rare that a trial is ever necessary.

We encourage you to bring bad checks to our office as soon as possible after your efforts to collect. The sooner we pursue collection, the better the results.  You should not use this service if someone stops payment on a check to you because of a dispute over the quality or quantity of work done for you. We will not issue criminal charges for this type of a civil dispute.

We presently handle hundreds of bad check cases every month for many businesses and individuals in Graves County. We encourage those not presently using this service to begin doing so. As mentioned above, this is a free service provided by this office so that you can receive payment on your bad checks.

Why Use the Graves County Attorney’s Office to Collect On Bad Checks?

  1. There is no cost to you.
  2. We collect the face amount of the check, but we also collect an additional merchant fee of $50 for you for each check.
  3. Only this office can prosecute bad check writers. Collection agencies and check service companies cannot use the criminal court system to collect checks.
  4. As a law enforcement agency our databases are more extensive and current than check collection agencies and check service companies’ resources.

Crime Victim’s Advocacy

Innocent victims of crime have the right to be treated with respect and compassion, to be informed and involved in the criminal justice process, to be protected from harm and intimidation, and to be provided with the resources necessary to regain some of the control they lost when victimized.

The Graves County Attorney’s Office established a Victim’s Assistance Program with that philosophy in mind. The mission of the Victim’s Assistance Program is to provide assistance to individuals who have been victims of violent crimes within Graves County. This Assistance Program helps address the devastating emotional and psychological consequences that victims and their families experience.

The Graves County Attorney’s Office Victim’s Assistance Program offers support in the following areas:

Court Orientation: 
Victims may not understand the procedures for prosecuting cases and may be unfamiliar with terms used within the criminal justice system. The Victim’s Assistance Program will provide information about the legal process and what may be expected of victims.
Notification
A Victim’s Advocate will keep victims advised of the status of their cases on a regular basis and be available to answer any questions they may have.

Participation: 
Victims are encouraged to express opinions and concerns. Victims may speak with the Victim Advocate regarding their case, or if they prefer, they may be put into contact with the prosecutor assigned to the case. Documentation of injuries or damages to the victim provided to Victim Advocate may be made apart of the case file.

Protection
: The Victim’s Advocate will advise the prosecutor and the Court of any threats or intimidation by the offender.

Court Companionship: 
If a victim desires, he or she can be accompanied to all court proceedings by the Victim’s Advocate.

Referrals: 
The Victim’s Assistance Program is able to provide referrals to victims for services such as counseling, therapy, and safety planning.

Communication: 
A Victim’s Advocate will act as a liaison between victims and the prosecuting attorney. At the victim’s requests, the Victim’s Advocate will make arrangements for the victim to talk with the prosecutor assigned to the case.

Crime Victim’s Compensation
: Kentucky has established a Crime Victims Compensation Board from which, if eligible, an innocent victim may be reimbursed for medical expenses or wages lost as result of a crime. The Victim’s Advocate may be available to help answer questions concerning eligibility or compensation and to assist in the completion of Crime Victims Compensation Claim Forms.

If you have further questions concerning the Graves County Victim’s Assistance Program, please contact Lisa Adams or Denise Brazzell at 270-247-2288.

Child Support Enforcement

The Graves County Attorney’s Office, Child Support Division, processes over 2,000 cases. Through the Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children, the Child Support Division offers a variety of services. The following services are available:

Anyone who has custody of a child and needs help establishing who the father of the child is, establishing a child support order, or collecting current or past-due child support payments is eligible to receive child support services. You do not have to be the child’s parent to qualify for child support services. If you think you may be the father of a child you may request establishment of paternity and we’ll do a DNA test.

Families who receive public assistance receive child support services automatically. (Child support payments collected for families receiving public assistance go to the state and federal governments as repayment for public assistance.)

Families who do not receive public assistance may apply for child support services by completing an application online. To apply for child support services please visit the visit: https://csws.chfs.ky.gov/csws

Paternity means fatherhood. Fatherhood creates the legal duty to support a child. Both parents have the right to know and to contribute to the success of their child’s future. Even when a father and mother are unmarried, they both must support their child until he/she becomes an adult. By establishing paternity, the father is providing the child with certain rights and privileges, which may include the following:

  • Support: Both parents are required by law to support their child.
  • Identity: Knowing one’s family history is important to everyone. Children have the right to the sense of belonging that comes from knowing both parents.
  • Medical History: Children need to know if they inherited any special health problems.
  • Benefits: A child has the right to receive benefits from both parents. These may include, but are not limited to Social Security benefits, insurance benefits, inheritance rights and Veterans’ benefits

The monthly support obligation is set based on the Kentucky Child Support Guidelines found in KRS 403.212. The Guidelines use the parents’ gross monthly income or potential income. The Guidelines are based on the principle that both parents are financially responsible for the support of their children.

Once the child support amount is established by Court Order, it can only be modified under certain circumstances. KRS 403.213 sets forth the criteria for modifying a support order. KRS 403.213 states that the child support obligation can only be modified if there is a “material change in circumstance that is substantial and continuing” which results in at least a 15% change in the amount of monthly support.

There are various enforcement remedies we can use to collect current or past-due child support obligations from the noncustodial parent. Some examples include, but are not limited to, the following: withhold income directly from paycheck, deny, revoke, suspend a driver’s or professional license or certificate; place a lien on personal or real property, deny or revoke a passport, furnish the noncustodial parent’s name for publication in a local newspaper, seize lottery winnings or funds held by a bank or other financial institution, and intercept federal and state tax refunds.

The same location resources and services are available in all states, although interstate cases are more difficult and generally take longer.

CHFS attorneys are contracted to provided child support services and to represent the best interests of the children in Graves County. They do not represent either parent in Court. There are times when a custodial parent does not agree with the course of action they choose for a case. That parent may close his/her case with the office and pursue collection independently or through a private attorney.

By law, the Child Support Office cannot address other problems that are often associated with establishing and/or enforcing child support such as divorce, property settlements, visitation and custody, establish or modify spousal support, or provide legal advice or counsel.

The Graves County Attorney’s Child Support Office is located at 101 East South Street in Mayfield or you may call us at (270) 247-6323.

Delinquent Tax Collection

The Graves County Attorney’s Office has entered into an agreement with the Department of Revenue to assist in the collection of delinquent taxes. After property tax bills become delinquent and are transferred from the Sheriff to the County Clerk they become certificates of delinquency and are submitted to our office for collection.

Letters are then sent to the delinquent taxpayers advising them that the bills are subject to collection and addresses the possible results of non-payment, which ultimately include foreclosure. Once these bills are advertised and sold by the Clerk, third party investors have the opportunity to purchase them. Once purchased, there may be many additional fees added to the bills.

Taxpayers may be eligible to enter into installment payment agreements with this office. The terms and conditions of those agreements are determined by the County Attorney. If an agreement is entered into prior to the Clerk’s sale and the taxpayer is current on the payments under the agreement, the underlying bills are not subject to be purchased by investors.
While we strive to have compassion for those that may be having financial difficulties which lead to the failure to pay, providing services such as schools, roads, health departments and other government service is costly. Everyone must pay their fair share.

A tax is considered “delinquent” when the due date of a specific real estate tax assessment has passed and by statute any appeal rights have expired. Graves County real estate property tax notices are mailed out in late September or early October by the Graves County Clerk’s Office and are payable to the County Sheriff’s Office beginning November 1. They become delinquent on January 1, following their due date and are maintained and collected in the Graves County Sheriff’s office until April 15.  After April 15, delinquent taxes are transferred to and maintained by the Graves County Clerk’s office, accruing penalties and interest of 1% per month until paid.

Families who receive public assistance receive child support services automatically. (Child support payments collected for families receiving public assistance go to the state and federal governments as repayment for public assistance.)

Families who do not receive public assistance may apply for child support services by completing an application online. To apply for child support services please visit the visit: https://csws.chfs.ky.gov/csws

Yes. A lien is filed against real property you own in Graves County. The lien is filed with the Graves County Clerk’s Office and is a public record of the amount you owe. It could affect your ability to obtain credit or sell real estate. The cost of releasing the lien will be added to the delinquent tax account at the time the lien is filed.

Yes.  The Graves County Attorney’s office can create a payment plan for delinquent tax bills when payment in full cannot be made.  Delinquent tax bills on a compliant payment plan will be marked as “unavailable for sale” with the Graves County Clerk’s office therefore removing the risk of the bill being purchased by a third-party purchaser.

Kentucky law allows any individual or company to purchase taxpayers’ delinquent tax bills that have not been previously purchased by the state or sold and recorded in the McCracken County Clerk’s Office. The purchase can neither be anticipated nor prevented by the Graves County Clerk or the Graves County Attorney.  The Graves County Clerk will hold an annual sale of delinquent tax bills.  A specific date is set on a yearly basis but the sale is normally held in October.

The tax bill is converted to a “Certificate of Delinquency” which the buyer will receive from the County Clerk’s Office as a piece of paper or an electronic record. The buyer has fifty (50) days to give you notice he has bought your tax bill. Payment must be sent directly to the buyer, along with the associated penalties and interest assessed by the buyer. Once you pay the buyer, he will surrender the certificate to you, so that it may be presented to the County Clerk for lien release.

The buyer may institute a foreclosure action in court against you for the unpaid debt one (1) year after the creation of the certificate of delinquency. However, some buyers may be in no hurry to collect the debt, given the high interest rates charged, and may simply hold the certificate as long as your equity in the property exceeds the tax debt. The statute of limitations for the certificate of delinquency is 10 years.

Yes. A delinquent tax collection fee and interest will be added to the total amount due when it becomes delinquent. Currently the fees are penalties, cost of advertising, lien filing fee, County Attorney fee, County Clerk fee. A third party purchaser may also add other costs to your bill.

Domestic Violence Resources

Kentucky law has long allowed a person who is the victim of “domestic violence” to seek a protective order.  This order can require the “abuser” to vacate a shared residence, to have no contact with the “victim”, to restrict the places the abuser can visit and place the offender on a global positioning device.

This protection has been available for many years to family members, members of a married or formerly married couple, members of an unmarried couple who currently live together or formerly lived together, or have a child in common.

Emergency Protective Orders Eligibility Criteria

Kentucky law allows the Court to issue a protective order against a named individual to protect you and/or your minor child from violence. Before the Court can issue an emergency order you must fulfill three (3) requirements:

1. You must be a resident of Graves County or have fled to Graves County as a safe place.

2. You must have a domestic relationship with the person from whom you are seeking protection. Kentucky law defines “domestic relationships” as follows:
– Spouse or former spouse
– Person with whom you live or formerly lived
– Person with whom you have an alleged child in common
– Person with whom you have a Dating Relationship
– Parent, Grandparent, Child or Step-child
– Any person living in the same household as a child if the child is the alleged victim.
 
3. There must be an immediate and present danger of Domestic Violence and Abuse. This means physical injury, sexual abuse, assault or the threat or infliction of fear of imminent physical injury, sexual abuse or assault. This means you may qualify for a protective order if you or your minor child are actually physically injured, assaulted or sexually abused or if the person says or acts like he/she is going to physically injure, sexually abuse or assault you or your minor child.

If the Court finds that all three (3) of these requirements are met, it will issue an Emergency Protective order and give you a date to return for a hearing. You must return for this hearing. If the Court finds that there is not an immediate and present danger of domestic violence but you otherwise qualify for a protective order, the Court may issue a summons for a hearing date to determine if you will get a protective order. Again, you must return for this hearing.

Interpersonal Protective Orders Eligibility Criteria

Recently, the Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation expanding protective orders to include protection for victims of dating violence, victims of sexual assault, and victims of stalking.  In order to qualify for an Interpersonal Protective Order you must be a resident of Graves County or have fled to Graves County as a safe place, and either:

1. Be a victim of stalking (An actual criminal charge or conviction is not required to obtain an Interpersonal Protective Order for stalking); or

2. Be a victim of sexual assault (An actual criminal charge or conviction is not required to obtain an Interpersonal Protective Order for sexual assault); or

3. Be a victim of dating violence and abuse.

To facilitate notification of service or release from jail, you should register for VINE (Victim Information & Notification Everyday) by calling 1-800-511-1670 or going online at www.vinelink.com.

Those seeking assistance in obtaining an EPO/IPO may contact.

You may also wish to discuss the facts of your case with the local law enforcement and the Graves County Attorney’s Office to pursue criminal charges.

Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is often a silent crime. Most of us never see it because most victims are abused behind closed doors by their own family members. And, too often, people who do see it choose not to get involved because it’s “none of my business.” However, the law says it IS our business because Kentucky is a mandatory reporting state pursuant to KRS 209.030.

If you suspect elder abuse, you are legally required to report it. You can report abuse at the 24-hour toll free hotline 1-800-752-6200 and calls can be made anonymously.

Learn to recognize the following signs of self-neglect, caregiver neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse and financial abuse. Press the titles below to display common signs of abuse:

Neglect
– Obvious malnutrition, dehydration
– Dirty, uncombed hair and offensive body odor
– Torn and dirty clothes that are not appropriate for the weather
– Lack of glasses, dentures or hearing aid
– Lack of medical care
– Apparent weight loss
– Bedsores
– Recent suffering or loss of spouse, family members or close friends
– Filthy living environment, strong odors
– Little or no food in the refrigerator, or decayed and moldy food
– Many pets or animals who appear neglected

Physical Abuse
– Frequent injuries such as bruises, burns, broken bones, especially when the explanation of the injury seems unrealistic
– Multiple bruises in various stages of healing, particularly bruises on inner arms or thighs
– Chronic or acute physical illness
– Pain on being touched
– Many medicine bottles in sight; seems sleepy, sedated
– Appears frightened or withdrawn
– Never leaves the house; never allowed visitors
– Never mentions family or friends
– Locked in a room or tied up
– Clothes that are not appropriate for the weather

Sexual Abuse
– Evidence of sexually transmitted disease
– Irritation or injuries to the mouth, genitals or anus
– Upset when changed or bathed
– Fearful of a particular person
– Loss of bowel and bladder control

Emotional / Psychological Abuse
– Isolated from family and friends
– Sudden dramatic change in behavior: appears withdrawn, depressed, hesitant to talk openly
– Caregiver won’t let victim speak for herself
– Caregiver scolds, insults, threatens victim
– Trembling, clinging
– Fearful, hopeless, anxious
– Lack of eye contact
– Angry, agitated

Financial Abuse
– Unusual activity in bank account; sudden large withdrawals, expenditures that are not consistent with past financial history
– Use of Automated Teller Machines (ATM) when the person has no history of using ATMs or cannot walk or get to an ATM
– A recent Will, when the person seems incapable of writing a Will
– Rights signed away on legal papers without understanding what the papers mean
– Unpaid bills, such as house payment, rent, taxes, utilities
– Lack of food, clothing, or personal supplies
– Title to home signed over in exchange for a promise of “lifelong care”
– Missing personal belongings such as art, silverware, jewelry, TV

File a Citizen’s Complaint

To file a complaint against an adult (18 years of age or older) for a crime or violation that occurred in Graves County, you must go in person to the Graves County Attorney’s Office located in the Graves County Courthouse at 101East South Street, Mayfield, Kentucky during the regular business hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

To file against a juvenile (a person under the age of 18 years), you must go to the Graves County Court Designated Worker’s Office located at 100 E. Broadway Mayfield, KY 42066. The telephone number for the Court Designated Worker’s Office is 270-247-1733.

When filing a complaint, bring the following items with you:

  1. You MUST have a police report showing a legitimate documentation of the alleged crime by law enforcement and verifying that you are the victim.
  2. Your police report must have the name, address, telephone number, date of birth or social security number or driver’s license number of the person you seek charges against.
  3. You must present all evidence in support of your charge (i.e. emails, text messages, voicemails, photos, statements of witnesses, receipts, etc.)
  4. You must present the names, addresses and telephone numbers for all witnesses.
  5. If you sought medical care, you must provide a copy of your medical records and bills.

An employee of the Graves County Attorney’s Office will ask you to execute a criminal charge information sheet and a sworn affidavit as well as fill out a criminal charge intake form on which you will provide all the detailed information related to your request. The affidavit will be reviewed by the Assistant Graves County Attorney responsible for criminal prosecutions and a determination will be made as to whether a complaint will be taken and, if so, what charges it will contain.

Families who receive public assistance receive child support services automatically. (Child support payments collected for families receiving public assistance go to the state and federal governments as repayment for public assistance.)

Families who do not receive public assistance may apply for child support services by completing an application online. To apply for child support services please visit the visit: https://csws.chfs.ky.gov/csws

If it is determined by the Graves County Attorney’s office that criminal charges are appropriate, a judge will review the complaint and issue one of the following:

A Criminal Summons: A summons is an order that the defendant appear in the Graves District Court. This is a notice and not an order for arrest. The summons will advise the defendant to appear in the Graves District Court at a specified date and time for the arraignment (the first call of the case)
Or
An Arrest Warrant:  An arrest warrant is an order requesting any appropriate law enforcement officer arrest the defendant.
The complaint is then forwarded to the sheriff’s department in the county where the defendant lives for service of the summons or arrest warrant. The issuance of either the summons or arrest warrant does not guarantee an immediate court appearance or an immediate arrest. Further, if a defendant is arrested, he may be released after appearing before an appropriate judge and may be ordered to return at a later date.

After the criminal summons or arrest warrant is served, an arraignment is the first step in the court process. The charges are read and the defendant is advised of his/her rights. For misdemeanors and violations, the defendant may enter a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty”.

If the defendant entered a “not guilty” plea at the arraignment, the next step is a continued first appearance followed by a pretrial conference. At a pretrial conference, resolution of the case is explored. If there is no resolution, a trial is set.

Diversion is a possible conclusion of misdemeanors and violations. Diversion allows a defendant to avoid a conviction if court-ordered conditions are met. Not all defendants are eligible for diversion. The court will make a determination if a defendant is eligible for diversion.
If diversion is not ordered or is not successful, misdemeanor and violations will proceed through the Graves County District Court. If a guilty plea is not entered or if the action is not dismissed, the case will likely proceed to a bench trial or jury trial. After trial, a defendant may be found “guilty” or “not guilty”. If found “not guilty”, the complaint is dismissed. If found “guilty”, the defendant, in addition to being required to pay court costs, can receive a sentence containing the following:

A fine; and/or
Jail time

If jail time is part of a sentence, the defendant can be placed on probation (conditional discharge) for up to two years. If the defendant meets all the conditions placed on him/her during that period, he/she will not serve the jail time.

Many times cases have to be continued for various reasons. Please be prepared for this possibility. The Graves County Attorney’s Office will make every effort to insure all charges are prosecuted in a timely and appropriate manner.

Guardianship

Guardianship and Conservatorships over another person are available when that person is unable to take care of their personal and financial affairs. Proceedings to determine whether a guardian or conservator are needed, and appoint a guardian or conservator take place in the District Court where the person or Respondent lives. If you need assistance during this process, please contact the Graves County Attorney’s Office at 270-247-6321.

Process to Determine Disability and Obtain Guardianship/Conservatorship:

  1. Any person concerned with the welfare of the Respondent may file the petition. Come to the Graves County Attorney’s Office to get information about what is required to initiate the process through our office.
  2. When ready to proceed with the filing of a guardianship petition, return to the County Attorney’s Office with a “letter of need” for guardianship on the respondent’s treating physician’s letterhead stating why guardianship is needed. You MUST also tender an AOC Form 765, Report of Interdisciplinary Team, completed by the respondent’s treating physician.
  3. At the same time the petition is filed, an application for emergency appointment, AOC Form 745, may be filed if necessary along with an application of appointment to fiduciary for disabled person, AOC Form 747, must also be filed by the person intending to be guardian or conservator of the Respondent.
  4. If the Respondent does not have an attorney, the Court will appoint an attorney to provide representation. The Court will pay the lawyer’s fees if the Court determines the respondent is unable to do so. The County Attorney will represent the Commonwealth in this proceeding. The Petitioner is not required to have an attorney but may choose to do so.
  5. After the Court reviews the petition and applications, the Court will designate an Interdisciplinary Team consisting of a Doctor, Psychologist, and Social Worker. Each member of this team will meet with Respondent and file a report consisting of their respective opinions.
  6. Once the Court receives all three reports, the matter will be schedule for a jury trial in the District Court. The County Attorney, on behalf of the Commonwealth, and the Respondent’s attorney will present evidence from the reports. Upon conclusion of the trial, the jury will determine whether the Respondent is fully or partially disabled in personal and/or financial affairs.
  7. If the Jury finds that the Respondent is partially or fully disabled in either their personal or financial affairs, the Court will decide who will be the Respondent’s guardian or conservator. Upon selection the Court will file an order outlining the constraints of the guardian or conservator, if any. The court order will be filed with the court but must also be indexed in the county clerk’s office.

A guardianship provides the guardian with decision-making authority and responsibility over the protected person’s personal affairs. Limited guardianship gives the guardian decision-making authority and responsibility over only selected areas that the protected person has been determined unable to manage by him/herself; for example, a limited guardianship may only apply to healthcare decisions.

A family member or other interested individual may petition for the appointment of guardian/conservator for a protected person. However, when a relative or other appropriate person is not qualified or willing to act in this capacity, the McCracken County Office of the Public Guardian may be authorized to act as guardian/conservator for persons under their care.

A guardian/conservator must maintain regular and frequent contact with the protected person to become familiar with the protected person’s needs and limitations, and only exercise their decision-making authority to the extent required by those limitations. The guardian/conservator must respect the fact that their relationship with the protected person is a confidential one, and should encourage the person’s participation in decision-making to the extent possible. Obviously, the guardian/conservator must always act in the best interest of the protected person, and never become involved in a situation that might give the appearance of a conflict of interest. Finally, the court does require that the guardian/conservator provide some information to the court, including information pertaining to the protected person’s finances and personal inventory, and an annual personal status report.

Involuntary Drug & Alcohol Treatment

Casey’s law is the common name given to involuntary treatment for alcohol and drug abuse in Kentucky. Casey’s Law provides a means of intervention with someone who is unable to recognize his or her needs for treatment due to their addiction. Casey’s Law allows parents, relatives, and/or friends to petition the court for treatment on behalf of the person who is abusing alcohol and/or drugs.

The treatment options available under the law can vary depending on circumstances of each individual case. The person seeking the involuntary treatment is obligated to pay all costs incurred in the process as well as all cost of treatment and must sign a guaranty of payment. Costs incurred can be extensive, something the person seeking involuntary treatment should be aware of before signing the guaranty of payment.

Under Casey’s law, a person suffering from drug or alcohol abuse will not be ordered to undergo involuntary treatment unless that person presents an imminent threat of danger to their self, family or others as a result of alcohol or drug abuse, or there exists a substantial likelihood of such a threat of danger in the near future. Additionally, it must also be determined that the person can reasonably benefit from the treatment.

If you need assistance during this process, please contact the Graves County Attorney’s Office at 270-247-6321.

 Process to Obtain Treatment

  1. Complete Petition AOC Form 700A and have petitioner’s signature notarized. Petition can be filled for a 72-hour hold, 60 day treatment or 360 day treatment. Petition can be obtained at the McCracken County Clerk’s Office
  2. File Petition with the Graves County District Court Clerk at the Graves County Courthouse, 100 East Broadway, Mayfield, Kentucky.
  3. When filing Petition with District Court Clerk, you must also give the Clerk a completed AOC Form 703A, Certification of Qualified Health Professional, including the names of a physician and one Qualified Health Professionals as defined in KRS 222.  A Qualified  Health Professional can include a Mental Health Professional, an Alcohol and Drug Counselor certified under KRS 309 or a Physician.
  4. District Court will give Petitioner (Person filing the petition) a copy of Petition, will mail a copy to Respondent and have the Sheriff serve the Respondent. After the Court reviews the allegations in the petition, the Court will determine whether there is probable cause. If probable cause is established, the Court will order the Respondent to be evaluated by the two named Qualified Health Professionals and set the matter for a hearing within fourteen (14) days.
  5. Respondent will go to be examined by the Physician and the Qualified Health Professional petitioner identified to District Court Clerk at least 24 hours prior to hearing date.
  6. The Physician and the Qualified Health Professional will either file the report with District Court Clerk or give the report to Petitioner to file with District Court Clerk at least 24 hours prior to the hearing date.
  7. After filing the petition but before the hearing date, Petitioner should contact treatment facilities to arrange for treatment as prescribed by the Qualified Health Professionals and requested in the petition.
  8. At the final hearing, the County Attorney will submit the reports to the Court and Court will decide whether the Respondent presents an imminent threat of danger as a result of alcohol/drug abuse and if the Respondent can reasonably benefit from treatment. If Court finds that is true for the Respondent, then the Court will order treatment as prescribed by the Qualified Health Care Professionals.
  9. The Petitioner will be responsible for obtaining treatment services and transporting the Respondent to the treatment facility.

Involuntary Mental Health Treatment

In 1982, Kentucky passed the Kentucky Mental Health Hospitalization Act to address the sensitive issue of involuntary hospitalization. Involuntary hospitalization refers to the admittance of an individual to a hospital or psychiatric care facility against his or her will.

An individual suffering from mental illness can be involuntarily hospitalized if:

  1. He or she presents a danger or threat of danger to self, family or others resulting from mental illness; AND
    He or she can reasonably benefit from treatment; AND
  2. Hospitalization is the least restrictive means of treatment presently available.
  3. A person is considered “mentally ill” if he or she has serious problems with self-control, judgment or discretion in their personal affairs and social relations due to physiological, psychological or social factors. “Danger” means actual or the threat of serious physical harm to self, family, or others. This includes any action that deprives self, family or others of the basic necessities (i.e. food, shelter, or clothing). “Least restrictive means” indicates that the required treatment will provide a realistic opportunity to improve the mentally ill person’s level of functioning in the least confining setting possible under the circumstances.

TEMPORARY COMMITMENT

Initiated when a qualified medical professional, police officer, County or Commonwealth Attorney, spouse, relative, friend, guardian or other interested person files a petition for involuntary hospitalization of a mentally ill individual.

  • An individual subject to temporary commitment is entitled to a hearing.
  • The court will determine if probable cause exists to order involuntary hospitalization.

IMMEDIATE DETENTION

  • Officer may immediately transport an individual believed to be mentally ill that presents a threat to self, family or others to a hospital or psychiatric facility.
  • Individual must be evaluated within 18 hours of detention to determine whether involuntary hospitalization is necessary.

EMERGENCY ADMISSION

  • Initiated by an authorized staff physician or health care provider.
  • Involves admitting a mentally-ill individual, already present in a hospital, into a  psychiatric care facility.
  • The individual must not be held for longer than 72 hours.

STEPS OF THE INVOLUNTARY HOSPITALIZATION HEARING PROCESS

  • A petition for involuntary hospitalization must be filed by a family member or other concerned individual in the District Court of the county where the person to be hospitalized lives or is present at the time of filing.
    The District Court of the county must set a preliminary hearing date within six (6) days of holding or examination.
  • Notice of the involuntary hospitalization hearing must be given to the mentally ill individual and, if applicable, to the individual’s guardian, spouse, parents, nearest relative or friend, if known.
  • The District Court will examine the person filing the petition [“petitioner”] under oath about why he or she believe it is necessary to involuntarily hospitalize the mentally ill individual.
  • If the Court finds probable cause to involuntarily hospitalize the mentally ill individual, the court will order the person to a facility and set a final hearing within twenty-one (21) days from the examination in the county where the individual is hospitalized.
  • After the final hearing, the court can involuntarily hospitalize the individual for a period of sixty (60) to three hundred sixty (360) consecutive days from date of the court order, depending on what was requested in the petition.

If the court finds that no probable cause exists to involuntarily hospitalize, the proceedings must be dismissed and the individual will be released. There are no absolutes or predictability on who will be admitted.  “Imminent danger” can be subjective and dependent on the mental health provider’s judgment.   In addition, individuals may present in control of their self and deny allegations during an evaluation.  This makes it difficult to obtain an accurate assessment. Being declined for admission and treatment can be very disheartening to family members.  This leaves them feeling helpless when their family member desperately needs treatment. The system and the laws focus on civil rights and not the hardship of the family or individual. If the individual is denied admission and risk remains, one is advised to file a petition again.  When mental health professionals see a history of petitions this may influence a future assessment.

Juvenile Prosecutorial and Protection Duties

The jurisdiction of the juvenile court and family court includes three categories of youths:

Delinquents – youths who commit acts that would be defined as criminal for an adult, including misdemeanors and felonies.

Status offenders – youths who commit acts that would not be defined as criminal if committed by an adult (for example, truancy, running away from home, and curfew violations).

Dependent and neglected children – youths who are deprived and in need of support and supervision.

The County Attorney is required by statute to “attend to the prosecution in the juvenile session . . . held pursuant to petitions filed under KRS Chapter 610”. Under this requirement are all actions where a child is alleged to be “Dependent,” “Neglected,” or “Abused.” (“DNA”)

Non-emergency DNA Action:
A non-emergency DNA action is commenced with the filing of a Juvenile Dependency Neglect or Abuse Petition. The Affiant – the individual with knowledge about the facts involving the child – states the reasons in the petition why he or she thinks a child is dependent, neglected, or abused.
The Court will then schedule a hearing within 10 days to determine “whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the child would be dependent, neglected, or abused if returned to, or left in the custody of his parent or other person exercising custodial control or supervision”.
 
Emergency DNA Action/EMERGENCY CUSTODY:
Emergency based DNA actions, including a Petition for Emergency Custody, are filed by the local Department of Community Based Services or by another individual with knowledge of the facts at the direction of the local Department of Community Based Services, after that agency has conducted an investigation into the facts giving rise to the emergency situation.

The filing of an EMERGENCY CUSTODY petition is proper when the person exercising custody or supervision of the child is unable or unwilling to protect the child AND one or more of the following conditions exist:

  • the child is in imminent danger of death, serious physical injury or  sexual abuse;
  • custodian/supervisory person has repeatedly inflicted or allowed to be inflicted physical injury or emotional injury;
    the child is in imminent danger due to the custodian/supervisory person’s failure or refusal to provide for the safety or needs of the child
  • A hearing shall be conducted within 72 hours of the granting of an emergency custody order to determine whether the removal should continue and to set the action for further proceedings.

If you suspect that a child is dependent or being neglected or abused, please report the facts to the Lakes Region DCBS Central Intake Hotline at 270-388-4818. The Graves County DCBS Protection and Permanency Office is located at 319 S.7th St. Mayfield, Kentucky, 42066, 270-247-4711.
 
Subsequent Proceedings in BOTH Emergency & Non-emergency Actions:
After the initial determinations listed above, the Court holds bifurcated hearings for the following purposes:

  1. an adjudication to “determine the truth or falsity of the allegations in the petition,” and
  2. a disposition to “determine the action to be taken by the court on behalf of, and in the best interest of, the child”.

The goal of the County Attorney’s office in these cases is the care and protection of the child. These proceedings are not criminal in nature and the goal of all DNA cases is, through the appropriate treatment and therapies, to reunify the child with the family.

Child abuse is a serious crime that can be prosecuted under the laws of the Commonwealth, however the DNA proceedings are independent of any criminal proceedings. It is possible to have both criminal proceedings, and DNA proceedings prosecuted at the same time.

Traffic Safety Program

The Graves County Attorney Traffic Safety Program may allow your traffic citation to be DISMISSED upon successful completion of the program.

The program consists of the acclaimed traffic safety video program SMARTDRIVER: “Strategies For Survival.”  The video content can either be viewed over the internet or viewed by requesting a copy of the DVD; either can be completed in the comfort of your own home.  Following the video, you will be asked to complete a series of questions based on the content in the video.  Upon successful completion of the program, the violation will be DISMISSED.

Benefits of completion of the C.A.T.S. program in addition to DISMISSAL include:

  • Avoid points against your license that may result in suspension
  • Avoid penalties against your insurance policy including higher rates
  • Avoid the time and costs of traditional traffic school
  • Avoid having to spend hours in traffic court
  • Program COSTS LESS than paying your citation
  • Program can be completed at your convenience from the comfort of your own home 

If You Have Received A Letter About the C.A.T.S. Program:

This means that your citation and traffic history have already been reviewed and you qualify for the program. Simply follow the instructions included in your letter and logon to the website identified using your username and password provided in your letter.

 If You Have Received A Postcard About the C.A.T.S. Program:

This means that your citation and traffic history have already been reviewed and you MAY qualify for the program but further measures need to be verified to ensure your eligibility. Simply follow the instructions on the postcard by following up with my office to get the program started.

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