County seeing record number of felony charges

MARQUETTE — “You can never say things are going to be a certain way; you just never know.”

Since 2012, Matt Wiese has been the prosecuting attorney for Marquette County. Wiese says he and his staff usually deal with 300–400 felony charges a year.

In 2015, they dealt with 900 felony cases. And so far this year, they may match or exceed last year’s number. Wiese says they’ve seen a rise in cases involving drugs and sexual assault.

“What I think we’re seeing with the CSC’s is that people are seeing that the cases are going forward, they have more confidence in coming forward and letting us know about the situation,” said Wiese.

More people are coming forward when it comes to reporting crimes involving sexual assault, but the percentage of people who actually do it is alarmingly low.

“The conventional wisdom from the Bureau of Justice Statistics are that 1 in 10 sexual assaults get reported, so that’s nine that don’t, so I think that’s part of it,” added Wiese.

When it comes to the drug problem and the influx of drug cases, Wiese says the amount of pharmaceuticals on the market does lead to some abuse and for others addiction.

“We do have some problems with meth,” said Wiese. “We are aggressively pursuing people that are manufacturing meth. But the big problem is that people are addicted to painkillers or are addicted to p pharmaceuticals,” he added.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Wiese stressed that if your partner or someone else is abusing you, the best thing you can do is come forward.

“It’s not just going to go away,” said Wiese. “It’s just not going to stop unless there’s some sort of intervention. The police, prosecutor’s office, the courts and probation can often times be a kind of intervention and stop that kind of abuse.”

By the end of 2016, the prosecutor’s office could issue a record number of felony charges. Wiese says he isn’t alarmed by the increased amount of felonies issued.

“I don’t know if it’s a trend and it’s going to stay, but is it alarming? I wouldn’t say I’m alarmed. I would say that I’m really busy and my staff is really busy,” said Wiese. “We’re trying to deal with the case load, with the volume.”