Felony charges in Eagle County up again in 2008 | VailDaily.com

Felony charges in Eagle County up again in 2008

Dustin Racioppi
Eagle County, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Felony charges in Eagle County, Colorado continue to reach new highs.

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said the unofficial tally for 2008 was between 494 and 499 ” just shy of the never-before-reached 500 mark.

“It has been going up,” Hurlbert said. “We did probably 450 last year.”

There were 390 felony charges in 2006.

Hurlbert couldn’t put his finger on any one factor leading to the increase.

“I think it’s a bunch of different things,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot more people and we have a lot more police officers.”

The poor economy could be a factor, Hurlbert said, but may not be a very big one.

“We had a pretty OK economy for half of 2008,” he said. “Even with the economy (being) good, our felony rates are up.”

He doesn’t expect the numbers to go down, either. The prevalent crimes of the last year ” domestic violence, drug possession and sexual assaults ” may now be matched with higher profile crimes because of the economic climate, Hurlbert suspects.

“I think it will (go up),” he said. “We’ll keep on seeing violent crimes, but more ID theft, more of these big property crimes.”

Hurlbert said that a normal felony case load for deputy district attorneys is between 150 and 200. Eagle County has two deputy district attorneys.

The increase in work is putting a strain on the district’s office, Hurlbert said.

“There’s the potential to burn out. There’s the potential to not put all the attention to cases that you want,” Hurlbert said. “And it means a lot of long hours.”

But he said he’s not ready to go to the county commissioners for a budget increase to add staff just yet.

Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or dracioppi@vaildaily.com.

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