The Van Wert County Courthouse

Friday, Mar. 1, 2024

Common Pleas criminal cases decrease

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

After a near drug epidemic in 2012, drug-related charges have decreased this past year in Van Wert County Common Pleas Court, according to year-end criminal indictment statistics released this week.

Common Pleas stats 2011-2013-2Although they still comprise the largest portion of criminal cases heard in Common Pleas Court, 2013 drug trafficking and possession indictments were just over half the number handed down in 2012: 67 indictments in 2013 versus 128 the year before. However, there were still more drug charges handed down this year than in 2011 (49), the year cheap Mexican heroin started flowing into the county — and drug enforcement efforts increased to combat the problem.

Drug trafficking/possession cases still made up the largest portion of Common Pleas Court indictments, with the next highest number of indictments for burglary and breaking and entering (26), which is an increase of both 2011 (23) and 2012 (13). Theft indictments, though, were down substantially, from 22 in 2011 and 30 in 2012, to just 10 this year.

There was also one murder indictment handed down in 2013, compared to none in 2012, and one in 2011.

Assault indictments showed a small increase this year over 2012 (9 to 7), with two assault indictments in 2011, while sex offenses were double those filed in 2012 (10 to 5), although a much smaller increase from the eight assault indictments filed in 2011. One person was also indicted for failure to register as a sex offender in 2013, the same as in 2012, although three indictments for that offense were handed down in 2011.

Domestic violence cases decreased significantly in 2013 over the previous two years, with just five indictments this year, compared to 11 indictments in both 2011 and 2012. There were four felony vandalism indictments in 2013, versus one in 2012 and none in 2011, while felony drunk driving indictments totaled three this year, versus two in 2012 and six in 2011.

Child endangerment increased in 2013, with four indictments, compared to none last year and one in 2011.

Weapons-related charges were up from 2012, with three indictments in 2013 for having weapons under disability, one indictment for having a weapon in a school zone and one indictment for having a weapon illegally in a motor vehicle, a total of five weapons charges. There were two weapons under disability indictments in 2012 only, while 2011 included three weapons under disability indictments, one carrying a concealed weapon offense, and one count of falsification to buy a firearm, for a total of five weapons charges.

Receiving stolen property indictments were down in 2013, with one filed this year, versus five in both 2012 and 2011. Forgery indictments also decreased to two indictments in 2013, compared to five in 2012 and six in 2011.

Although a total of 228 indictments were handed down in 2012, versus 162 in 2011 and 165 this year, the total for each year could be misleading, since Court Reporter/Bailiff Michael Kirkendall said that only the most serious charge in each case was counted. If there were a number of multiple-count indictments in any of the three years, the total number of indictments could be significantly higher. For a complete list of indictment categories, see table above right.

POSTED: 12/27/13 at 4:09 am. FILED UNDER: News