WITHERS ADDRESSES DISMISSALS 4-1-15 LMS
City Prosecutor Bruce Withers explained the process of case dismissals to the Salmon City Council at its April 1 meeting. He said he knows that is a frequently asked question so he devoted time to the subject in his semi-annual report.
Withers said that during an arrest a police officer will often make charges on each individual offense such as one charge for possession of marijuana and one charge for possession of paraphernalia. When the case comes to him if the person charged will plead guilty to the more serious marijuana offense he will dismiss the paraphernalia charge. He said that achieves basically the same sentencing result before a judge and saves the costs of a trial as well as the cost of officer’s court time.
Withers said when a person is cited for six violations his policy is to select the three most relevant and most important. If the person pleads to those he, the prosecutor, will dismiss the others.
Withers supplied council members with the list of cases prosecuted between September 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015. He explained the list contained the total number of cases, not the total number of charges. There were 135 cases. Of those 92 were misdemeanors. Forty one were found guilty, there were 26 cases dismissed and there are 25 pending. He said four of the cases were curfew violations and there were a number of controlled substance/paraphernalia charges.
Between January 1, 2014 and August 31, 2014, a two month shorter time frame, there were 134 cases.
When asked about the intensity of local crime activity Withers said it fluctuates on a regular basis. He said when spikes in methamphetamine use occurred, based on the conviction rate, local law enforcement officers did a really good job. He said methamphetamine use is on the decline thanks to the message the convictions sent.
The council also received a list of various drug cases handled by the Lemhi County Narcotics Enforcement Team (LCNET). The team includes the Salmon City Police Force.
Another list featured properties seized, case numbers and restitution received. He said a Monte Carlo was recently forfeited as was a Ford Explorer. He said a total of $6,933 in currency has been received.
Disposition of the properties is determined by statute. Withers said the cars can be sold, according to state statute, or used for unmarked surveillance work. The funds can also be used to continue other investigations. State statute allows the prosecutor to take 25 percent of the restitution money however; Withers said he does not do that since he feels it is more important that law enforcement has the opportunity to use the funds.
The city receives from $500 to $1,000 a month in restitution which does provide some income but, Withers said, should not be considered a revenue raising source. Dispersal of the restitution and how it can be used is determined by state law. Court costs are set by the state legislature and the judge determines what portion of fines is allocated.
Withers encouraged the councilman to bring him any questions they may have on his charging decisions or any cases they read in the paper.
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