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Boulder County Sees Record Number of Felony Filings in 2018

January 2, 2019
Boulder County District Attorney, pictured at his swearing in on March 1, said he believes the record number of felony filings in Boulder County in 2018 was driven by population growth and the opioid epidemic.

Felony filings in Boulder County

2012: 1,879

2013: 1,801

2014: 1,816

2015: 1,977

2016: 2,230

2017: 2,347

2018 as of Dec. 28: 2,757

The Boulder County District Attorney’s Office filed about 2,800 felony cases in 2018, by far the most the district has ever seen.

Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said that, as of Dec. 28, his office filed 2,757 felony filings in 2018, and he said that number would almost certainly get over 2,800 once the numbers for the year were totalled.

Boulder County saw 2,347 felony cases in 2017 and 2,230 in 2016, and before that had never eclipsed 2,000.

The Boulder County District Attorney’s Office in May expressed concern about the pace of felony filings , and the trend carried through the year.

“For the past several years, felony filings have been steadily increasing here in Boulder and throughout the state,” Dougherty said.

But Dougherty said it is not just felony filings that are on the rise. He said traffic and misdemeanor cases also are on the rise, which indicates it is not a matter of prosecutors choosing to charge more crimes as felonies.

“The increase in felony case filings is not due to any change in filing standards at the District Attorney’s Office,” Dougherty said. “Rather, this year’s increase is consistent with what we have seen over the past several years in Boulder and other parts of the state.”

Dougherty said he believes the growing number of people living in Boulder County as well as the opioid epidemic are two of the driving factors behind the increase.

“We believe the continued increases are due to population growth and the opioid epidemic because, as you know, drug addiction can lead to property offenses, such as bike thefts, home burglaries, and car thefts,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty also noted Colorado ranks 41st in the nation with recidivism rates, with 48 percent of individuals released from state prison back in prison within three years.

“The area for greatest improvement is in lowering the likelihood of re-offense,” Dougherty said. “If we can lower the recidivism rate, it would be better for the communities, the offenders, and the taxpayers.”

Dougherty said that in Boulder, he is hoping the DA’s restorative justice and mental health diversion programs can help with those recidivism rates. He also pointed to a new alternative sentencing facility, which voters approved funding for in the recent election.

“Those efforts should help to lower the rate of re-offense here in Boulder,” Dougherty said.

Mitchell Byars: 303-473-1329, byarsm@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/mitchellbyars

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