The number of adults charged with felonies in Dakota County fell 6.5 percent in 2012, the county attorney's office reported, but the number of violent crimes was up.
In 2012, 552 adults were charged with 712 violent criminal offenses in the county, an increase of about 12 percent from the 637 violent crimes charged in 2011. Those charges included nine people charged with murder, attempted murder, manslaughter or assisting in a suicide, 12 charged with criminal vehicular operation and 229 charged with felony assault, including domestic assaults.
While illegal drug offenses continued to be the top problem, accounting for 24 percent of the total felony caseload, those dropped slightly, with 389 defendants in 2012 compared with 403 the year before.
Among the drug offenses, methamphetamines caused 152 adults to be charged, followed by marijuana at 72; prescription drugs 62; cocaine 50, and heroin 30. The marijuana charges included the seizure of almost 400 pounds of the drug in Inver Grove Heights, one of the largest seizures of marijuana in the county's history.
To help combat drug addiction, the county attorney's office works with corrections, court and law enforcement on the District Court's Adult Drug Court, which requires participants to make frequent court appearances and be intensively supervised. There are 32 participants in drug court, with 14 cases referred in 2012. Thirty-four offenders have graduated from the program since it started in September 2008.
Felony drunken-driving charges decreased, from 50 in 2011 to 35 in 2012. A DWI is charged as a felony if an offender has three or more previous drunken-driving convictions in 10 years.
Repeat DWI offenders or those arrested on a first offense with a blood-alcohol percentage of 0.16 percent or higher, if convicted, must use an ignition interlock for at least a year or face at least a year without driving privileges. The ignition interlock requires the driver to provide a breath sample below 0.02 percent blood-alcohol level for the vehicle to start.
Property crimes also in the county decreased in 2012, with 641 people charged with 783 felony-level property crimes. In 2011, there were 965 felony charges. Property crimes encompass theft, forgery and credit card fraud, burglary, stolen property and criminal damage to property.
Financial and white-collar crimes increased from six to eight people charged; nine people were charged with possessing child pornography; four were charged with crimes against children, and one each with animal cruelty and providing heroin that caused the death of another.
The full report on 2012 adult crime statistics is available at www.co.dakota.mn.us/lawjustice/crimereports/pages/default.aspx.