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Herald staff | needtoknow@heraldnet.com
Published: Thursday, June 9, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Felony charges and convictions in Snohomish County

Justice isn't simple. Thousands of crimes are reported in Snohomish County every year. Cops decide what cases get forwarded to prosecutors for review. Prosecutors decide if there's enough evidence to convince a jury. About 40 percent of the cases don't make the cut. But if a case is charged, odds are it'll result in a conviction, most often before trial. How did cases funnel through the prosecutor's office in 2010?
Felony counts

About a quarter of felony charges get dismissed before going to trial. That number reflects charges prosecutors agree to drop in exchange for a guilty plea to at least one felony or misdemeanor.

In 2010, there were 114 trials involving felonies that yielded findings of guilt for 176 counts.

"Trials are the least efficient, least certain and least final way of administering justice," Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe said. People pleaded guilty as charged more than 40 percent of the time and routinely waive appeals.

"That means we're charging the right cases," Roe said.

Felony referral outcomes/counts

Snohomish County District Court by the numbers

Roe says not all criminal cases are created equal. Misdemeanors in district court, such as drunken driving, tend to be simpler. Violent street crimes, domestic violence and child sex cases are some of the most difficult.

Uncooperative victims and other witnesses can cause cases to go sideways, chief criminal deputy prosecutor Joan Cavagnaro said.

Prosecutor filings on referrals by type

People and felonies

Prosecutors won convictions that sent 645 people to prison last year. Another 1,429 who faced felonies wound up in jail. Many of those cases took more than a year to resolve, which explains why the math doesn't add up perfectly.

The 2,074 people incarcerated represent convictions on 3,316 counts.

6,460: Total potential felony defendants referred by police agencies to Snohomish County prosecutors.

2,774: People whom prosecutors declined to charge with felonies.

1,429: People convicted and sentenced to county jail.

645: People convicted of felonies and sentenced to state prison.

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