The number one crime prosecuted by Linn County in 2013 was no surprise for District Attorney Doug Marteeny.
Once again, methamphetamine possession was at the top of the list, with 494 separate charges.
“I think you’ll find that statewide, probably in every prosecutor’s office, that’s the same,” Marteeny said.
Meth possession frequently is tied to more serious crimes, as well, Marteeny said, adding that’s true of intoxicants in general.
“You take away mind-altering substances and my caseload will go way down,” he said.
As if to prove his point, the number one misdemeanor in Linn County for 2013 was driving under the influence of intoxicants, with 428 cases.
(The Linn County District Attorney’s Office statistics don’t include many misdemeanors that are handled by municipal courts in Albany, Lebanon and Sweet Home.)
Prosecutions for meth possession and DUII, though at the top of the charts, were actually down slightly from 2012, according to Linn County District Attorney’s Office data.
The most serious crime to make the top 10 list of felonies for 2013 was first-degree sex abuse, with 129 separate charges.
“The fact that sex abuse I is in the top 10 bothers me very much. Sexual abuse of children is a problem that plagues our society much more than people realize,” Marteeny said.
The average age of first-degree sex abuse victims in Linn County in 2013 was 9 years old.
Marteeny added that one in four girls is the victim of a sex crime, and one in six boys is, as well, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Regardless of age, “These take a toll on victims. … And there are a lot of victims who have to work really hard to deal with the emotional burden that comes with these evil, evil crimes,” Marteeny said.
First-degree sex abuse, first-degree theft and first-degree burglary generally rank near the top 5 of felony crime prosecutions, Marteeny said.
Unauthorized use of a motor vehicle surged into third place in 2013, with 170 cases. That was up from fifth in 2012, when 110 such cases were prosecuted.
Albany Police Department and other agencies reported an uptick in stolen cars last year.
In other trends from 2013, heroin possession climbed two spots to number seven.
Marteeny said that heroin has replaced prescription medication possession in the list of top 10 felony crimes for Linn County.
“(Drug users) are graduating to heroin is what I think is happening,” Marteeny said.
In previous interviews, detectives said heroin is easier to acquire and cheaper than prescription opiates.
“When I first started prosecuting, I might get one or two heroin cases a year,” Marteeny said.