Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Missoula County Attorney’s Office charged 25 new criminal complaints last week, which is the same as the week before and significantly higher than the weekly average. Chief Deputy County Attorney Matt Jennings explains. 

“We are always looking for trends and aren’t sure about the reasons, but this is about 50% higher than an average that we see on a weekly basis if you go back the past couple of years,” Jennings said. “What is really alarming about this week is that we had a lot of violent crimes and almost all of them were domestic violence. If you are looking at an average of violent crimes, we were about 50% higher this week than we have been in the past and that is really alarming for us.” 

Jennings said domestic incidents almost always involve complicated situations with children and relationships. 

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“They are often triggered by alcohol and other disagreements that are coming to the surface,” Jennings said. “We have a lot of mechanisms in our court system to make sure people are safe and we can treat the underlying reasons for some of that violence. Hopefully, we can find a way to rehabilitate people, keep people safe, and only if they wanted to, that they could find a better and healthier way to move forward in their relationships in the future.” 

Jennings mentioned that he is really proud of our court system for addressing that and taking victim safety so seriously.  

In addition to the domestic cases this week, there were a handful of drinking and driving incidents as well. Some of those also involved felony criminal endangerment charges. 

“In Montana and Missoula, more people die by drunk driving accidents than any other way,” Jennings said. “We have more drunk driving accidents causing deaths than we do homicides. It is something that we really try and focus our attention on. Criminal endangerment is creating a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to other people. A couple of the cases that we had this week involved high-speed chases on highways where other drives were on the roadways and we also had a wrong-way driver on the interstate.” 

He wishes it wasn’t the case, but Jennings said wrong-way driver incidents are really common in Missoula. 

“We probably get one a month where someone is just going down the interstate full speed and they are just going in the wrong direction because they are drunk or under the influence of other drugs,” Jennings said. “Those are how people get hurt. “It is terrifying for other drivers on the roadway. We charge those as felonies when we can if it meets the elements.” 

The Missoula County Attorney’s Office provides a weekly report every Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. during KGVO’s Talk Back show. 

You can listen to Jenning's full report below:

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