ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – In his 2019 annual report of his office, Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon detailed an overall increase in felony filings, including those involved guns and drugs.
“Offenders who are in possession of guns, most acquired illegally, continue to be a growing problem in Kane County,” according to the report, which was released this month. “Although guns are used in a variety of crimes, simply possessing a gun is a criminal offense in many scenarios.”
Prosecutors charged aggravated unlawful use of a weapon 128 times last year, up from 116 in 2017 and 121 in 2018.
Unlawful possession of a firearm without a Firearm Owners Identification Card charges increased to 69, up from 64 in both 2017 and 2918, according to the report.
The office charged 523 felony narcotics cases, a 6.9% increase over 2018 of 487 cases.
“It is important to note that these statistics reflect only known activity, which generally is known to law enforcement through arrests, prosecutions and the seizure of illegal drugs,” the report stated.
Nearly half of the cases involved cocaine. The rest involved prescription drugs, illegal amounts of marijuana, ecstasy, methamphetamines and hallucinogenics, the report stated.
“Although heroin and fentanyl continue to make headlines across the country, cocaine continues to be the dominant illegal drug in Kane County,” the report stated. “In addition, methamphetamine had a greater presence in Kane County than in recent years.”
Forfeiture of cash, vehicles
State law allows state’s attorneys to seek forfeiture of cash and vehicles involved in felony drug deals. The vehicles seized must have been used with the knowledge and consent of the owner in the commission of certain crimes, the report stated.
McMahon’s office seized 113 vehicles, with 71 of those cases still pending. Of those, 23 were forfeited to the seizing police agency to be used by them or sold; nine were returned to a lien-holder; and two were returned to the registered owner under the innocent owner exception, the report stated.
Assets that can be seized come from drug deals or were used in the commission of certain drug offenses.
The county’s 34 police agencies seized $505,241 in assets; and $380,417 in seized assets were forfeited, the report stated.
Five courtrooms handle traffic, misdemeanor and driving under the influence charges.
McMahon’s office prosecuted 24,572 new traffic citations; 36,311 were handled by municipal prosecutors.
McMahon’s office charged 4,273 misdemeanor cases; of those 860 were DUI charges; an additional 842 misdemeanor DUI cases were handled by municipal prosecutors, the report stated.
McMahon’s office charged 995 misdemeanor domestic battery cases and 235 felony domestic battery, which included 89 cases of aggravated domestic battery – those that involve great bodily harm or strangulation.
Child Advocacy Center
The Kane County Child Advocacy Center provides specialized guidelines for investigating and prosecuting child victims of sexual assault.
In 2019, the center conducted 387 investigations, a 3.5% decrease from the 401 cases in 2018 and a 15% increase over the 330 investigations in 2016. The center conducted 388 investigations in 2017.
Of those, 68 were charged, resulting in 35 resolved – either by a finding of guilty by trial or plea.
McMahon’s office also has a deferred prosecution program, which allows offenders to keep a conviction off their records while holding them accountable, the report stated.
The program is in its 24th year with a success rate of 74% or greater.
The deferred prosecution is for first-time offenders in felony and misdemeanor charges; drugs or alcohol charges require drug and alcohol education; domestic violence requires offenders to receive counseling; solicitation or prostitution requires offenders to receive education about the risks; felony drug offenders requires education and drug testing, the report stated.
“Deferred prosecution’s value is in giving people another chance while holding them accountable and teaching them to make better choices,” McMahon stated in the report.
Prosecutors also participate in Treatment Alternative Court for defendants with mental illness
Child support, juveniles
McMahon’s office also handles enforcement of child support orders. In 2019, the office served 14,190 children in 12,775 families. They appeared in court on more than 100 cases each week for a total of 5,310 court appearances, the report stated.
The Juvenile Division oversees juvenile delinquency and juvenile abuse and neglect cases.
Under delinquency, the office handles misdemeanor and felony charges against minors under age 18 with a focus on diversion.
In 2019, the division filed 347 new petitions on juvenile delinquency, a 12% decrease from 393 cases in 2018; the decrease is attributed to the division’s emphasis on diversion, the report stated.
Minors can be sentenced to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice if their behavior cannot be curbed; in 2019, McMahon’s office sent 11 minors there. Under Illinois law, a juvenile can only be sentenced to IDJJ as a last resort.
Abuse and neglect cases usually result from an investigation by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in which it determines a child has been abused, neglected or dependent on the state for care, the report stated.
In 2019, the division opened 110 new cases and filed 10 new dependency petitions.
“These files remain open while correcting the conditions that could lead to the court removing a minor from his previous guardians,” the report stated. “Cases remain open until the court determines it is safe for the child to return … or the court sets a different goal and outcome.”