Kane County felony cases up for 4th year in a row
Felony case filings in Kane County for 2019 were up 4.4% compared to last year and have increased four years in a row.
"It's no specific one area," State's Attorney Joe McMahon said Tuesday during his monthly media briefing. "It's kind of across the board. It's something we're looking at. I don't anticipate it will affect drastically the demands on staffing in the office."
Last year, Kane County prosecutors filed 2,604 felony cases, an increase of 110 cases from the 2,494 filed in 2018, or about two more per week. Felony case filings had been falling since the high water mark of more than 3,900 in 2007. In 2015, 2,111 cases were filed, and the 2,258 felony cases filed in 2016 marked the first year-to-year increase in a decade.
In 2017, McMahon's office charged 2,413 felony cases. Overall felony filings in 2019 were up 23.3% compared to 2015 and 15.3% over 2016.
McMahon said part of the increase is because his staff has been diligent in reviewing a defendant's previous criminal history and upgrading misdemeanor charges into felonies.
For example, McMahon's office regularly takes cases to a grand jury to obtain felony indictments for driving while license suspended or multiple DUIs after a defendant has been arrested.
Tuesday, McMahon said his office also looks at a defendant's previous criminal history as a factor for increasing a misdemeanor domestic battery to a felony charge.
"That's one explanation (for the felony increase) as well," he said. "Part of it is an increase in serious crime. Part of that is attributable to our ability to enhance misdemeanors to felony offenses based on an individual's previous criminal conduct."
McMahon noted his office charged roughly 4,200 misdemeanors in 2019, down from the 5,600 filed in 2015.
McMahon's office will have a detailed breakdown of felonies and other crimes in its annual report in February.