The Pocahontas County Attorney Office prosecutes adult criminal cases, brings juvenile delinquency and child in need of assistance court actions, and handles civil matters for Pocahontas County such as legal advice for county offices and the Board of Supervisors. Adult criminal cases can be indictable offenses in district court or simple misdemeanors in magistrate court. An indictable offense is usually brought by trial information, the formal charging document that is prepared by the county attorney and approved by a judge. A grand jury may also find probable cause to charge an indictable offense. In working toward disposition of criminal cases, the County Attorney Office seeks restitution for victims of crime. The sentencing by the court aims to both punish and rehabilitate the offender.
The Pocahontas County Attorney Office works with various agencies. Investigation and information about criminal matters usually comes from the Pocahontas County Sheriff's Office, city police departments in the county, the Iowa State Patrol, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and Iowa Department of Narcotics Enforcement (DNE). Other agencies such as the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals, the Iowa Department of Human Services, Iowa Workforce Development, and the Social Security Administration occasionally do investigations that are referred to the County Attorney Office for prosecution. However, the County Attorney may initiate a charge based solely on citizen information. When enforcing court orders such as a sentencing, the County Attorney Office often works with the Iowa Department of Corrections that may supervise probation, as well as other local law enforcement agencies.
Ann Beneke has been the Pocahontas County Attorney since December 1, 1988. She graduated from John Marshall Law School in Chicago in 1978 with a Juris Doctor degree. From 1979 to 1988, she was a legal aid lawyer; from 1972 to 1974, she worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; from 1970 to 1972, she was a high school English teacher at Clinton High School in Clinton, IA. In 1970, she graduated from The University of Iowa with a B.A. degree, majoring in economics. She grew up in Laurens and graduated from Laurens High School. Since 1988 she is also a private law practitioner in Laurens.
Assistant County Attorney:
Charles Gunderson was County Attorney from 1970 to 1974, and has been Assistant County Attorney since December 1, 1988 (except for 4 months). He graduated from The University of Iowa College of Law in 1969 with a Juris Doctor degree. In 1966 he graduated from Iowa State University B.S. degree in Agricultural Business. He has been in the law practice and farm management business in Rolfe beginning in 1969. He grew up on a farm in the Rolfe area and graduated from Rolfe High School. Charles and his wife Gloria were married in 1975, and have lived in Rolfe since then.
The office of the County Attorney is in Laurens, and the office of the Assistant County Attorney is in Rolfe.
Although the division of workload of Ann and Charles is not fixed or "etched in stone," Ann tends to do adult criminal cases (both felony and indictable misdemeanors), including drug-related cases, juvenile court cases, magistrate court cases and some civil matters. Charles tends to do the adult operating while intoxicated cases (both felony and indictable misdemeanors), collection of victim restitution and court costs, commitments for mental health and substance abuse, and some civil matters. The number of convictions in Pocahontas County is often higher than surrounding counties of slightly higher population. Several years ago, The Des Moines Register noted that Pocahontas County was first (for 2 years in a row) among the 99 Iowa counties in rate of collection of fines and victim restitution.
Ann Beneke and Charles Gunderson are both members of the
Iowa State Bar Association and the Iowa County Attorneys Association.