Felonies, domestic violence cases on rise in Summit
SUMMIT COUNTY The number of felonies prosecuted in Summit County increased by 26 percent last year, becoming on par with Eagle County for the first time, according to District Attorney Mark Hurlbert, whose district covers Summit, Eagle, Clear Creek and Lake counties.Hurlbert’s office handled more than 13,000 cases in 2006 in the four counties, representing a 13-percent increase over the 2005 caseload.Across the board, felonies and domestic violence cases saw the biggest increase, Hurlbert said.In Summit County, Hurlbert’s office prosecuted 172 domestic violence cases last year – 47 percent more than 2005 – and 390 felony cases, up from 309 in 2005, and the exact same number prosecuted in the more populous Eagle County.Those numbers reflect a growing trend in the county, Hurlbert said.”We reached a low probably about four or five years ago when we were actually prosecuting less than 300 felonies in Summit County, and I think it has been on the rise ever since,” he said.The reason?Hurlbert said he thinks the surging statistics are due in part to Summit’s growing population. He also credit local law enforcement agencies for doing a better job of investigating felony cases, which results in a better case being turned over to him.Also, in 2006, the rise in felonies can also be attributed to a large drug bust in May, in which police arrested 34 people, half of whom were charged with felonies, he said.As far as the jump in domestic violence cases, Hurlbert said his office has stepped up its collaboration with local law enforcement and Advocates for Victims of Assault, which may have resulted in more victims coming forward.Sarah Vaine, director of Advocates, said her organization’s numbers were up about 30 percent in 2006 from 2005. Advocates primarily assists victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, but also provides crisis response for anyone experiencing trauma.”Typically, we get more calls in general especially around domestic violence and sex assault because some people will call us for our services but not want to make (police) reports,” Vaine said.Hurlbert said misdemeanors in Summit County were also up by about 120 cases last year. Overall, his office assisted more than 1,200 victims in the county, Hurlbert said.Coroner stats also upSummit County Coroner Joanne Richardson was also busier in 2006 than the year before. She investigated 70 deaths in 2006, up from just 50 in 2005. Last year’s numbers set an all-time record for the number of deaths in the county. Previously, the highest number on record was 54 deaths in 1993. In 2006, Richardson attributed 44 deaths to natural causes; 17 to accidents; seven to suicide; and two are still undetermined, according to a preliminary report issued by Richardson.Of those, 34 were locals and 36 were visitors, while 58 victims were male and 12 were female.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at email@example.com.Summit County caseloads, 2006 vs. 2005Type of case20052006Domestic violence117172DUI626625Felony309390Juvenile5756Misdemeanor11491266Traffic22232482Jury trial/County1313Jury trial/District24Total caseload44814991Source: Office of the District Attorney, Fifth Judicial District
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