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Friday, May 6, 2016

Felony cases rise for Barry County prosecutor

Monday, March 16, 2009

In 2008, the Barry County Prosecutor's Office filed 1,374 felony and misdemeanor cases, which was 5 percent more than the 1,311 cases filed in 2007. Prosecutor Johnnie Cox and his staff also handled 1,028 traffic cases last year, which reflected a small 7 percent decrease when compared to the caseload in 2007.

According to Cox, the case totals are for charges filed in court.

"Some defendants may have had multiple charges filed in the same case, either for multiple crimes committed at the same time or committed on different dates, or multiple cases filed against them for different crimes committed on different dates," Cox explained.

In 2008, the prosecutor's office filed 567 felony cases as compared to 577 in 2007. A fourth of the felony charges were drug-related, which reflects a decrease from the year before.

In 2008, there were 115 felony controlled substance-related charges filed, which is 24 less than the 150 drug felonies filed in 2007. The number of misdemeanor drug cases also dropped from 72 in 2007 to only 34 in 2008.

Based on year-to-year statistics kept by the prosecutor's office, drug-related charges have been dropping off slightly each year from a high of 171 felony drug charges filed in 2004.

Crime trends

In 2008, there were only two crime categories that increased in the number of the charges filed from 2007.

The number of robbery related charges rose significantly from none in 2007 to two in 2008. Harassment-related charges saw a sharp increase. The prosecutor filed 43 harassment, stalking, peace disturbance and violation of an order of protection charges as compared to only 13 in 2007.

The rest of the crime categories saw decreases in the number of charges filed in 2008.

One crime that dropped off considerably this past year is forgery/fraud cases. In 2008, the prosecutor's office filed 20 forgery/fraud charges, which is half of the 41 filed in 2007.

Child abuse and endangering the welfare of child charges have also decreased significantly. In 2008, there were eight child abuse charges filed as compared to 17 in 2007.

The prosecutor filed only one homicide charge this past year, which is dramatically less than the five murder charges filed in 2007.

Bad check cases also dropped. The prosecutor's office filed 322 bad check charges, which is a 23 percent decrease from the 420 bad check charges that were processed in 2007.

In 2008, the county prosecutor's office collected $251,939.67 in restitution for bad checks and $39,764.87 in fees paid to the county on bad check cases. In 2007, fees totaled $41,065.43 and restitution stood at $260,896.20.

Other categories of charges that reflected slight decreases last year are listed below.

* Sex offense charges: 17 in 2008 and 24 in 2007. Of the charges filed last year, one was for child molestation, one for forcible rape, one for sexual abuse, one for sexual assault, two for sexual misconduct, six four for statutory rape and five for statutory sodomy.

* Property damage, tampering and trespassing charges: 50 in 2008 and 57 in 2007.

* Assault and resisting arrest charges: 84 in 2008 and 98 in 2007.

* Kidnapping charges: two in 2008 and three in 2007.

* Arson charges: zero in 2008 and two in 2007.

* Traffic-related misdemeanors: 127 in 2008 and 134 in 2007.

* Domestic violence charges: 17 in 2008 and 20 in 2007.

* Weapons charges: 13 in 2008 and 15 in 2007.

* Traffic-related misdemeanors: 127 in 2008 and 134 in 2007.

* Stealing and receiving stolen property charges: 92 in 2008 and 96 in 2007.

* Alcohol-related misdemeanors: 43 in 2008 and 58 in 2007.

* Domestic violence charges: 17 in 2008 and 20 in 2007.

* Driving while intoxicated charges: 126 in 2008 and 140 in 2007.

Prison time

In 2008, there were more people sent to prison than in 2007 based on cases filed by Cox and his staff. A total of 123 received prison sentences as compared to 115 in 2007.

Of those now behind bars, 76 were sentenced as a result of probation violations and 47 were sentenced directly upon a plea or finding of guilt. In addition, 41 defendants were sentenced to shock or institutional treatment.

The majority of prison sentences, 35 and 48 respectively, resulted from drug and property crime charges. The others were the result of the following charges: seven, driving while intoxicated; 11, sex crimes; and 22, crimes against persons.

"Some defendants were sentenced for multiple charges; however, the breakdown attempts to provide a basic description of what type of charge the defendant was sentenced under," said Cox.

Hardworking staff

The thousands of cases that go through the Barry County Prosecutor's Office each year are handled by a staff of seven that includes: Cox, full-time prosecutor; Pat Sullivan, part-time assistant prosecutor; Chris Wilyard, Vickie Easley, Debbie Miller and Bobbi Jo Douglas, clerical staff; and Vern Warren, part-time investigator.

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