Drug offenses big part of crime calendar

Justin Coleman

Drug offenses account for 34 percent of the felony criminal cases referred by law enforcement agencies to the Nez Perce County Prosecutor’s Office, according to statistics released Tuesday by the prosecutor’s office.

There have been 150 felony drug cases out of a total of 437 criminal felony cases filed between Jan. 1 and Nov. 26 in Nez Perce County, according to a news release.

“We are seeing that drugs and addiction really drive a lot of the rest of the crimes we see in Nez Perce County,” Nez Perce County Prosecutor Justin Coleman said. “Heroin and (methamphetamine) are the biggest contributors to felony drug charges.”

Drugs drive property crimes, domestic violence, sexual violence and firearms offenses, as well as other criminal activity, Coleman said.

“We have taken a hard stance against dealers versus our stance on those who use drugs,” Coleman said. Prosecutors see dealers “preying upon” people afflicted with addiction. In response to drug traffickers, county prosecutors are asking judges to sentence them to more time behind bars, while the approach to addicts focuses on treatment, Coleman said.

Property crimes accounted for 29 percent of the criminal felony cases filed this year in the county. There have been 126 felony property crimes filed in the county this year. Property crimes include thefts, burglary and arson.

Sexual violence offenses made up about 8 percent of criminal felonies in the county this year. There were 33 sexual violence felony cases filed this year. Other violent offenses accounted for 7 percent of the felony cases filed this year, with 29 cases to date, the release said.

Domestic violence made up 6 percent of felony cases in the county. There have been 26 felony domestic violence cases, the release said.

Felony DUIs also accounted for about 6 percent of the cases filed to date. There have been 25 felony DUI cases filed in the county this year, the release said.

Other felony cases filed this year included 11 eluding police cases, seven firearms offenses, seven failure to register as a sex offender cases, three kidnapping cases and five felony cases classified as “other,” the release said.

In addition to the felony cases, the prosecutor’s office has handled 1,775 misdemeanor cases, 1,081 infraction cases, 129 juvenile cases, 21 child protection cases and 144 mental commitments cases this year, the release said.

Wells may be contacted at mwells@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2275.

Recommended for you