As Iowa’s judicial system is county-based, the offices of Iowa’s 99 elected county attorneys handle the vast majority of the state’s criminal prosecutions.
The Area Prosecutions Division's primary focus is prosecuting major criminal cases that county attorneys refer to the Attorney General. Such referrals are made in two general circumstances: (1) when the county attorney has a conflict of interest that prevents that county attorney from acting in an investigation or prosecution, and (2) when an especially serious or complicated case requires prosecution resources in addition to those already available in the county attorney's office.
Area Prosecutions Division attorneys specialize in major felony prosecutions, including cases of murder, homicide, kidnapping, sexual abuse, robbery, theft and fraud, child abuse and exploitation, domestic violence, elder abuse, arson, white collar crimes, public corruption, and human trafficking.
- Prosecutes criminal cases requiring specialized legal training, e.g., Medicaid fraud, violence against women, environmental crime, securities fraud, obscenity, correctional institution crime and tax crimes.
- Prosecutes cases involving allegations of public official misconduct, including all matters brought before the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
- Provides services to crime victims and to those who must appear as witnesses in criminal trials prosecuted by the division.
Sexually Violent Predator Civil Commitments
The Office of the Attorney General has statutory responsibility for the Sexually Violent Predator Program, which is operated under the Area Prosecutions Division in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Human Services. Other state agencies including the Department of Corrections, the Judicial Department, and the Department of Public Safety are also involved in implementing the Iowa statute (Iowa Code 229A), which was adopted in 1998. The program has been in operation since 1999.
The Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) program is a long-term, intensive civil commitment treatment program for high-risk offenders. A "sexually violent predator" is defined as "a person who has been convicted of or charged with a sexually violent offense and who suffers from a mental abnormality which makes the person likely to engage in predatory acts constituting sexually violent offenses, if not confined in a secure facility."
In developing the civil commitment program, Iowa officials have had a dual focus. First, careful screening of potential patients results in the selection of the highest risk offenders. Second, the development of a high quality treatment program encourages and motivates sex offenders to understand their offending cycles and develop appropriate methods to control their behavior.
Unlike many other states, Iowa has strictly limited its criteria for admission to the program and, as a result, Iowa's program has seen slow and steady growth with a manageable number of patients in the program. Despite substantial budget constraints, the Iowa program has been able to accommodate new patients, has maintained security appropriately and has focused on the development of a positive, therapeutic environment to enhance treatment. Patients in the program have real hope for changing their behavior, improving their own lives and avoiding re-offense when they are released from treatment.
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Program
In conjunction with Iowa's two U.S. Attorneys, the Office of the Attorney General of Iowa prosecutes drug cases under the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program.
The purpose of the program is to reduce drug trafficking and production in the United States by:
- Facilitating cooperation among Federal, State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to share information and implement coordinated enforcement activities;
- Enhancing law enforcement intelligence sharing among Federal, State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies;
- Providing reliable law enforcement intelligence to law enforcement agencies to facilitate the design of effective enforcement strategies and operations; and
- Supporting coordinated law enforcement strategies that make the most of available resources to reduce the supply of illegal drugs in designated areas of the United States and in the nation as a whole.