NEW PHILADELPHIA — The number of new felony cases jumped 49 percent from 2017 to 2018 in Tuscarawas County, according to a report released Wednesday by Tuscarawas County Prosecutor Ryan Styer.
"This is due in large part to the increase in drug possession cases," Styer said. "The number of counts of drug possession has increased 290 percent from 2017. While this increase may partly be related to the reduction of the backlog at the state crime lab, much of it is related to the increased detection of drugs by law enforcement and the proliferation of drug use."
Counts of drug possession in indictments totaled 307 in 2018, compared to 106 in 2017, 122 in 2016, 107 in 2015 and 109 in 2014.
"In 2018, Tuscarawas County experienced a sharp uptick of crystal methamphetamine cases compared to previous years," Styer wrote.
The total of new felony cases was 463 in 2018, compared to 310 in 2017, 327 in 2016, 291 in 2015 and 330 in 2014. One case can include multiple charges.
Drug cases dominated in the top eight categories of felonies, accounting for 216 cases. The next highest category, theft and receiving stolen property, had 101 cases. Then followed assault, 35 cases; burglary and breaking-and-entering, 33 cases; domestic violence and violation of protection orders, 33 cases; and weapons offenses, 31 cases.
The largest single number of cases, 134 in total, originated with the New Philadelphia Police Department, followed by 124 cases from the Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office, 72 from the Dover Police Department, 43 from the State Highway Patrol, 34 from the Uhrichsville Police Department, 23 from the Newcomerstown Police Department, 15 from the Dennison Police Department, four from the Strasburg Police Department, three from the Sugarcreek Police Department, two each from the Gnadenhutten and Midvale police departments and one each from Bolivar, the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Ohio Department of Public Safety, Port Washington police, the Tuscarawas County Child Support Enforcement Agency and the Tuscarawas County Department of Job & Family Services.
Felony crime cases 2014-2018
The number of felony cases in Tuscarawas County has increased over five years, with a sharp turn upward in 2018.
Year — number of cases
2018 — 463
2017 — 310
2016 — 327
2015 — 291
2014 — 330
Most of the people charged, 78 percent, were male. The greatest share of all those charged were between the ages of 26 and 25, and the smallest share, those over 65.
Most felony indictments were resolved without trials, which accounted for 1 percent of case resolutions. Of 335 case dispositions in 2018, 320 ended when the defendants changed their pleas and were found guilty. Three cases ended with guilty verdicts in trials. Two were found not guilty by reason of insanity. No jury trials resulted in verdicts of not guilty. Ten cases were dismissed.
Styer declined to predict how 2019 statistics will compare with those from 2018 based on this year’s activity.
"We currently have plenty of cases ready to schedule and present to the grand jury, and it hasn’t really slowed down from last year in that regard," he told The Times-Reporter in an email.
Felony prosecution consumes approximately 70 percent of the time and resources of the prosecutor’s office. Other responsibilities include prosecuting some misdemeanor cases and providing legal counsel to all county and township boards and elected officials.