The all-time high in the most serious criminal cases filed in Clinton County was reported in 2022. According to Clinton County Circuit Clerk Rod Kloeckner, 306 felony cases were filed by the state’s attorney’s office, breaking the previous record set in 1991 with 282 cases.
Felony cases, as defined by the Illinois Department of Corrections, are offenses that are punishable by imprisonment for over one year. These 306 cases included a total of 870 counts. Methamphetamine was a major contributor to the increase in the number of felony cases. In 2022, there were 85 charges of possession of meth in the county, including 72 charges of possession of less than five grams. Additionally, 48 charges of possession of a controlled substance and 10 charges of delivery of meth and manufacture/delivery of other drugs such as cannabis, fentanyl, or heroin were filed.
According to Kloeckner, drugs continue to be a major problem in Clinton County, but law enforcement and the state’s attorney’s office are working hard to tackle the issue. He noted that often, a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia or a hypodermic syringe/needle accompanies a charge of drug possession. In 2022, there were 58 counts filed for these two offenses.
In other criminal case categories, there were 165 criminal misdemeanors filed, 28 fewer than in 2021. The decline was attributed to the introduction of a new case category, brought on as part of an overhaul of the Manual on Recordkeeping by the Illinois Supreme Court. The new case categories and revised ones include major traffic (MT) for jailable offenses and minor traffic (TR) for petty offenses, domestic violence (DV), quasi-criminal (QC), and miscellaneous criminal (MX).
On the civil side, divorce cases were reclassified as dissolution with children (DC) and dissolution without children (DN). The new civil categories introduced include foreclosure (FC), governmental corporation (GC), eviction (EV), and guardianship (GR). Kloeckner reported that his office processed 3,184 filings in all case categories in 2022, 177 more than in 2021. Nine of the 32 criminal and civil case categories saw an increase in the number of cases filed.
In 2022, Kloeckner’s office processed 1,503 traffic citations, two more than the previous year. The most cited charge was operating an uninsured motor vehicle, with 253 tickets issued. The next most-cited charges were driving 15-20 mph above the speed limit, driving on a suspended license, driving 21-25 mph above the speed limit, and expired registration. The police departments of Trenton and the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department wrote the most speeding tickets, with 203 and 75, respectively.
In 2000, the most traffic tickets issued in a single year was in 2002, with 5,093. Other notable traffic charges included driving without a license (79 tickets) and failure to reduce speed (68 tickets). Eleven tickets were issued for individuals speeding 100 mph or faster, with the fastest speed recorded being 125 mph.
In conclusion, Clinton County continues to face challenges with drugs and traffic violations, but law enforcement and the state’s attorney’s office are working hard to address these issues. The new case categories and revised ones introduced by the Illinois Supreme Court aim to make recordkeeping more efficient and effective.