Dakota County charges decrease by 4 percent in 2013; Hastings shows decrease of 22 percent
The number of adults charged with felonies in Dakota County in 2013 decreased about 4 percent compared to the number charged in 2012.
And it was even better news for the City of Hastings as the numbers decreased from 117 to 87, or about a 25 percent decrease for the same time period.
The numbers were among those in the 2013 Adult Felony Criminal Prosecutions in Dakota County released last week by the Dakota County Attorney’s Office.
The total number of adults charged with felony offenses in the county decreased from 1,602 in 2012 to 1,545 in 2013.
In addition to Hastings, other communities/law enforcement agencies showing decreases in the number of felony offenses being charged were Dakota County Sheriff, from 152 to 99; Farmington from 38 to 33; Inver Grove Heights from 108 to 107; Rosemount from 52 to 31; Mendota Heights from 29 to 19; South St. Paul from 144 to 132; and West St. Paul from 176 to 146.
Drugs are top problem
The number of drug-related offenses continued to represent the largest category of cases charged by the Dakota County Attorney’s Office. The number of charges with drug offenses — 350 — is about 23 percent of the entire felony caseload of the County Attorney’s office. However, the number is a decrease of 39 charged in 2012.
While the number of individuals charged with drug-related crimes has decreased, the amount of drugs seized has increased significantly.
In meth-related cases, 148 individuals were charged. One case involved the county seizing 12 pounds of meth in Burnsville, along with handguns and cash.
A total 68 individuals were charged with marijuana crimes. One significant case involved the seizure of more than 56 pounds of marijuana.
Another 54 individuals were charged with drug crimes, 37 with cocaine crimes, and 25 individuals with heroin crimes.
“Illegal drug use in Dakota County and across our state and nation is an enormous problem,” said Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom. “We continue to work hard with our law enforcement partners to protect our community from drug offenders and to hold them accountable for their crimes. We also work with others in the criminal justice system to reduce the ongoing cycle of drug abuse.”
He praised the ongoing efforts of the Dakota County Drug Task Force, of which Hastings is a member.
“This coordinated law enforcement effort is extremely effective in combating illegal drug activity,” he said. “The Dakota County Drug Task Force, which relies heavily on federal grant funding, is vital in getting illegal drugs off the streets.”
In 2013, 412 adults were charged with 621 violent crimes in Dakota County. This is a decrease from the 522 adults charged with 712 violent crimes the previous year.
Of the total number, nine individuals were charged with murder, attempted murder or manslaughter; seven were charged with criminal vehicular homicide/injury; 196 were charged with felony assault; 58 were charged with felony sex-related crimes; eight were charged with kidnapping; 117 were charged with terroristic threats, 37 were charged with robbery; and 30 were charged with dangerous weapons.
Backstrom pointed to the decrease in the number of felony strangulation cases for the year – down 22 from 2012.
“Domestic violence is a significant problem in our society and we need to protect the victims of these serious crimes as well as hold offenders accountable for these acts of violence,” he said.
There is also encouraging news for adults charged with felony driving while intoxicated (DWI) cases. There were 21 individuals charged with felony-level DWIs in the county in 2013, compared to 35 in 2012. A felony DWI occurs if an offender has been previously convicted of three DWIs in the last 10 years and commits a fourth DWI offense.
In 2013, 631 adults were charged with 742 felony-level property criminal charges, compared to 641 adults charged with 783 such charges in 2012.
Financial, white collar crimes
Six individuals were charged with theft, theft by swindle or theft by false representation involving losses to businesses, governmental agencies, faith communities and youth-serving organizations. The victims’ losses totaled more than $725,000. Eight cases were prosecuted in 2012.
For the adult felony charges, a total of 14,083 court calendar events were scheduled in 2013, down by five from the previous year.