COVER: Justice Center

The numbers are higher in 2017. And, as we all know, numbers don’t lie. 

On Dec. 21, Christian County Prosecuting Attorney Amy Fite delivered the year-end report for the Prosecutor’s Office. And the total charges and cases that go through the Prosecutor’s Office continues to increase with a total of 5,551 charges filed in 2017 compared to 5,127 charges in 2016.

“This reflects an increase of approximately 28 percent in the number of felony charges as compared to 2016,” Fite said in the annual report. “It also reflects a 98 percent increase in felony filings as compared to 2011. It is approximately a 3 percent increase in misdemeanor counts filed as compared to 2016 and 672 more misdemeanor charges, or approximately a 19 percent increase in misdemeanor charges filed as compared to 2011.”

The PA’s office filed 1,377 felony charges during the reporting period that runs from Dec. 1, 2016-Nov. 30, 2017, and 4,174 misdemeanors, infractions and county orders. 

Fite said that law enforcement referred to her office 6,319 charges for review; 153 of them are currently under review and 407 of them were refused. While law enforcement have probable cause to charge someone with a crime, it is the prosecutor’s job to determine whether those charges will hold up in court.

“This is 542 more charges, or just over a 9 percent increase, as compared to 2016,” the written report says. “It is 2,656 more charges than in 2011 or almost a 73 percent overall increase in total number of referrals received in 2017 as compared to 2011.”

This reporting period, the office closed 5,063 cases. The prosecutor accepted 3,295 guilty pleas and went to four jury trials on 13 felony counts, which included guilty verdicts on four counts and not-guilty verdicts on nine counts. 

There were five felony bench trials that resulted in eight guilty counts, two counts of not guilty and two cases that total three counts under advisement. There were also 13 misdemeanor bench trials rendering guilty verdicts on 15 counts and not guilty verdicts on six counts.

“(This) reflects an increase of 474 felony or approximately 40 percent increase in the number of felony charges being disposed in 2017 as compared to 2016,” the report says. “... It also reflects fewer misdemeanor charges disposed in 2017 as compared to 2016. Overall there were 69 fewer charges disposed in 2017 as compared to 2016.“

Fite said her office collected bad checks in the amount of $52,943 and restitution on behalf of crime victims in the amount of $211,353. And the office collected $210,842 in delinquent taxes.

The PA’s Office also saw 569 total felony cases through preliminary hearing, 514 of those were waived with 46 cases being bound over to circuit court and nine not bound over. 

“In addition to the cases that went through preliminary hearing, there were 66 cases true billed by the grand jury,” the report says, referring to the grand jury that convened April-October. “There were 58 more preliminary hearing cases as compared to 2016. As compared to 2012, there were 191 more preliminary hearing cases or about a 50 percent (increase) in preliminary hearing cases.”

There has been a substantial increase in the number of probation violations filed in 2017, more than three times the number filed in 2011, at 1,038. In 2016 that number was 864. 

Follow Amelia on Twitter at @awigton2.

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