Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Missoula County Attorney’s Office charged 13 new criminal complaints this week, which is three less than last week and less than the new weekly average. According to Chief Deputy County Attorney Matt Jennings, eight of those cases involved some form of violence.   

“We had one endangerment crime, a property crime, which was a felony, and three drug crimes,” Jennings said. “One of the trends that we've seen since COVID is the proportion of cases that we're filing that are violent is a lot higher than it used to be, say five or ten years ago. We've been floating around 40 to 50% of all the charges that we're filing are violent crimes against other people. Within that section of violent crimes, about half of those are domestic violence and family violence.” 

In addition to the new cases this week, Jennings said there were a few other things he wanted to highlight. 

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“We have sentencing in about one hour for a defendant named Kerry Drew who caused the death of another person on Hwy. 200 last year,” Jennings said. “We continue to see most human deaths that are caused by criminal means in Missoula County in the state of Montana are actually related to driving while impaired. This is really tragic and it's avoidable. We prosecute those just as seriously as we do homicides, though sometimes the sentences are a little bit different.” 

Jennings said the public often thinks the County Attorney’s Office has more control over a sentence that someone receives. 

“All we can do is present the facts and the evidence in an argument to a judge,” Jennings said. “But ultimately, a judge is always responsible for making that sentencing determination. We are asking for active time on Kerry Drew because he caused the death of somebody else in our community. But we also often ask for active time on other violent offenses or in sex crimes, but we're not always able to receive that and sometimes that's pursuant to negotiations that we had based on the strength of the case or victim’s wishes. Sometimes we argue strenuously for active time and we're just not able to achieve that because of the decisions of the judges.” 

Jennings provides more insight into active time and various aspects of sentencing. You can listen to his full report below:    

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