Minor crimes down in Mon County in 2018, but slight increase in major offenses

Minor crimes  in Monongalia County decreased by more than 600 in 2018.

However, major crimes saw a slight increase.

The number of cases charged does not mean the number of cases prosecuted. It does mean a law enforcement agency arrested and charged a person who was then arraigned in Monongalia County Magistrate Court.

According to the Magistrate Court’s database, 5,574 misdemeanors — offenses that  are punishable by no more than a year in prison — were charged in 2018. That’s 601 less charges than in 2017, which had 6,175.

Misdemeanors include crimes such as possession of a controlled substance. Both years had 699 possession cases, but 2018 saw a slight increase in the number of actual charges with 796 offenses compared to 2017’s 747. A defendant can be charged with possession for each illegal substance they are found with.

Total offenses charged for possession with intent — in other words selling drugs — went up in 2018 with 168 charges for 120 defendants compared to 139 charges for 116 people in 2017. Possession with intent is a felony.

Felony crimes are those that  carry a prison sentence of more than a year.

Perhaps the most obvious felony is murder, of which there was one charged in 2018. There were no murders charged in Mon County in 2017.

Deputy Clerk Amanda Stemple said some of the most common crimes are drug possession and underage consumption because of the large college student population in the county.

Underage drinking cases were cut almost in half from 2017 —  317 cases compared to 604.

The number of mis-demeanor driving under the influence charges  also decreased from 401 in 2017 to 347 in 2018. Third and subsequent DUI offenses are considered felonies and those increased to 25 from 17.

Sexual crimes, including sexual abuse, assault and assault by parent or guardian decreased by one. There were 18 in 2018.

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