The Missoula County Attorney’s Office filed 19 felony complaints this week, which is five more than last week and significantly higher than the weekly average. On Friday morning, Chief Deputy County Attorney Matt Jennings appeared on KGVO’s Talk Back show and he provided a report.

“We had a lot of domestic violence this week and that is always very unfortunate,” Jennings said. “Six of the crimes we had this week were violent crimes against persons and those were all domestic violence related. We also had a couple very large drug busts this week. It is always unfortunate when we see large amounts of methamphetamine in our community. I wanted to give a shout out and thanks to law enforcement officers that are finding some of the big distribution elements in the community and trying to put a stop to that before it gets into the hands of other people, especially young people. We know it often leads to other crime.”

Jennings also spoke about how cases are assigned to specific courts in Missoula.

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“Justice Court in Missoula County handles any misdemeanors that are committed within the county,” Jennings said. “If somebody commits a misdemeanor in the city limits, it could either be in Justice Court or it could be in Municipal Court. Anything outside the city limits is always going to go to Justice Court. Whether it is a traffic offense or something like a criminal mischief up is Seely Lake, that will always be dealt with in Justice Court.”

According to Jennings, Justice Court also has the power to be the place of initial appearances for felony charges.

“Usually, that is appointing the office of public defender or other counsel, advising people of their rights, and setting bail,” Jennings said. “For instance, everyday we get a list of people that were booked into jail within the last day on new charges. If we file a felony complaint, usually that is going to be filed in Justice Court. They get seen within 48 hours of arrest. The Justice of the Peace will set bail, give them an attorney, advise them of the charges, and that is sort of the kick off to any prosecution.”

After bail is set in Justice Court, the case will proceed in District Court. There are five District Court judges and they will see felony cases all the way through, whether it is a jury trial or plea agreement.

You can listen to Jennings' full report below:

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