Felony filings once again have increased in Kane County.
“It’s no specific one area,” Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said during a recent media briefing. “It’s just kind of across the board. It's something that we're looking at. I don’t anticipate that it will affect drastically the demands on staffing in the office. It’s just something for the community to kind of be aware of.”
In 2019, Kane County prosecutors filed 2,604 felony filings, up from 2,494 felony filings in 2018. That number is a slight increase from the 2,413 felony filings in 2017.
In 2016, his office filed 2,258 felony filings, up from 2,111 filings in 2015. Aurora, Elgin, the Kane County Sheriff's Office, Carpentersville and St. Charles are the top five law enforcement agencies that refer cases to his office.
Year-to-year, felony filings have been on the increase since 2015. He attributed the increase to a number of factors.
"Part of that is an increase in serious crime," McMahon said. "Part of that is attributable to our ability to enhance misdemeanors to felony offenses based on an individual’s prior criminal conduct."
The biggest number of felonies are low level drug offenses and domestic-related incidents, he said.
“What starts out as a domestic-related incident often times leads to much more serious crime,” McMahon said. “It could be a sexual assault, it could be an aggravated battery. It is incredibly dangerous for a police officer to respond to a domestic violence related incidence. It's very common for the subject who is being investigated to then turn on law enforcement and commit a crime against law enforcement, whether it’s an assault or a physical battery or a threat or criminal damage to property, to the squad car or the holding cell. The genesis is that domestic violence incident that initiated the response from police."
While the number of felony filings have gone up, the number of misdemeanors continues to decrease.
"In 2015, we had about 5,600 misdemeanors," McMahon said. "Last year, we had about 4,200 misdemeanors."
The change in drug laws are one reason for the drop in misdemeanors, he said. In 2015, a new Illinois law went into effect which decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Beginning Jan. 1, the state started to allow Illinois residents 21 and older to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana per Illinois resident. Residents also will be able to possess 5 grams of cannabis concentrate and up to 500 milligrams of THC – the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives the high sensation – contained in a cannabis-infused product. Nonresidents can possess half those amounts.
His office will release its annual report in February.