Prosecutions for December 2017

Referring Agency: Immigration and Customs in Homeland Security

Number Latest Month 5,543
Percent Change from previous month -4.8
Percent Change from 1 year ago 9.6
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Including Magistrate Court)
-32.6
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Excluding Magistrate Court)
-16.2
Table 1. Criminal Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during December 2017 the government reported 5543 new prosecutions for these matters. Those cases were referred by the Immigration and Customs in Homeland Security. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 4.8 percent over the previous month.

The comparisons of the number of defendants charged are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (see Table 1).

When monthly 2017 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was up (9.6%). Prosecutions over the past year are still much lower than they were five years ago. Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are down 32.6 percent from levels reported in 2012.

The dip in these cases is partly related to increases in the matters filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. If magistrate cases are excluded and only Federal District Court cases are counted, the overall decrease in prosecutions is 16.2 percent instead of 32.6 percent. The evidence suggests that part of the difference may be the result of improvements in the recording of the magistrate cases by the Justice Department.

Bar and line plot of FYMON

Figure 1. Monthly Trends in Prosecutions

The decrease from the levels five years ago in prosecutions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of prosecutions of this type recorded on a month-to-month basis. Where a prosecution was initially filed in U.S. Magistrate Court and then transferred to the U.S. District Court, the magistrate filing date was used since this provides an earlier indicator of actual trends. The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. The one and five-year rates of change in Table 1 and in the sections that follow are all based upon this six-month moving average.

Cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.

The largest number of prosecutions of these matters in December 2017 was for "Immigration", accounting for 87.3 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking" (7.2%). See Figure 2.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2. Specific Types of Prosecutions

Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In December 2017, 4412 defendants in cases for these matters were filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. These courts handle less serious misdemeanor cases, including what are called "petty offenses." In addition, complaints are sometimes filed in the magistrate courts before an indictment or information is entered. In these cases, the matter starts in the magistrate courts and later moves to the district court where subsequent proceedings take place.

In the magistrate courts in December the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 8 U.S.C Section 1325 involving "Entry of alien at improper time or place; etc.". This was the lead charge for 53.2 percent of all magistrate filings in December.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "08 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien" (32.6%).

Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In December 2017, 1131 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during December there were an additional 1436 defendants whose cases moved from the magistrate courts to the U.S. district courts after an indictment or information was filed. The sections which follow cover both sets of cases and therefore cover all matters filed in district court during December.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of matters filed in U.S. District Court during December 2017 referred by the Immigration and Customs in Homeland Security.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
08 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien 1,527 1 1 1 More
08 USC 1324 - Bringing in and harboring certain aliens 249 2 2 2 More
21 USC 952 - Importation of controlled substances 169 3 4 4 More
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 113 4 3 3 More
08 USC 1325 - Entry of alien at improper time or place; etc. 78 5 9 10 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 59 6 5 5 More
18 USC 1546 - Fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents 57 7 6 6 More
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 30 8 8 9 More
18 USC 2252 - Material involving sexual exploitation of minors 27 9 7 7 More
18 USC 2252A - Activity relating material constituting/containing chil 16 10 11 16 More
Table 2. Top Charges Filed

  • "Reentry of deported alien" (Title 8 U.S.C Section 1326) was the most frequent recorded lead charge. "Reentry of deported alien" (Title 8 U.S.C Section 1326) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 five years ago.

  • Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Bringing in and harboring certain aliens" under Title 8 U.S.C Section 1324. "Bringing in and harboring certain aliens" under Title 8 U.S.C Section 1324 was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 five years ago.

  • Ranked 3rd was "Importation of controlled substances" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 952. "Importation of controlled substances" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 952 was ranked 4 a year ago, while it was ranked 4 five years ago.

Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest increase in prosecutions — up 206.7 percent — compared to one year ago was Title 8 U.S.C Section 1325 that involves " Entry of alien at improper time or place; etc. ". This was the same statute that had the largest increase — 146.1 % — when compared with five years ago.

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago — down 23.2 percent — was " Attempt and conspiracy " (Title 21 U.S.C Section 846 ). Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions — 36.8 percent — was for filings where the lead charge was " Fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1546 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In December 2017 the Justice Department said the government brought 953.3 prosecutions for every ten million people in the United States.

Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of prosecutions that are filed in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.

The districts registering the largest number of prosecutions per capita for these matters last month are shown in Table 3. Districts must have at least 5 prosecutions to receive a ranking.


Judicial District Percapita Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Cal, S 16,464 480 1 5 2 More
N Mexico 14,128 245 2 4 5 More
Texas, W 8,254 488 3 2 3 More
Texas, S 4,608 369 4 1 1 More
Arizona 4,207 243 5 3 4 More
Tenn, W 1,759 23 6 91 73 More
Fla, S 1,328 81 7 6 6 More
Iowa, N 1,085 12 8 30 49 More
N Dakota 950 6 9 29 23 More
S Dakota 846 6 10 49 39 More
Table 3. Top 10 Districts (per ten million people)

  • The Southern District of California (San Diego) — with 16464 prosecutions as compared with 953.3 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States — was the most active during December 2017. The Southern District of California (San Diego) was ranked 5 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 for most frequent use five years ago.

  • The District of New Mexico ranked 2nd. The District of New Mexico was ranked 4 a year ago, while it was ranked 5 for most frequent use five years ago.

  • Western District of Texas (San Antonio) is now ranking 3rd. The Western District of Texas (San Antonio) was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 3 for most frequent use five years ago.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were North Dakota , now ranked 9th , and Northern District of Iowa (Cedar Rapids) at 8th In the same order, these districts ranked 29th and 30th one year ago and 23rd and 49th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago — 1700 percent — was Western District of Tennessee (Memphis). This was the same district that had the largest increase — 111.8 percent — when compared with five years ago.

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of prosecutions — 10.5 percent — was Arizona .  But over the past five years, South Dakota showed the largest drop — 34 percent.

Top Ranked District Judges

At any one time, there are about 680 federal District Court judges working in the United States. The judges recorded with the largest number of new crime cases of this type during December 2017 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Moses, Alia M. Texas, W 165 1 1 2 More
Brack, Robert C. N Mexico 94 2 2 1 More
Gonzales, Kenneth John N Mexico 90 3 3 - More
Crane, Randy Texas, S 62 4 4 4 More
Hinojosa, Ricardo H. Texas, S 60 5 6 3 More
Alvarez, Micaela Texas, S 58 6 8 5 More
Guaderrama, David C. Texas, W 49 7 10 13 More
Cardone, Kathleen Texas, W 45 8 12 12 More
Briones, David Texas, W 44 9 11 11 More
Montalvo, Frank Texas, W 44 9 12 8 More
Table 4. Top Ten Judges

All 10 of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of filings per capit.

  • Judge Alia M. Moses in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 1st with 165 defendants in cases. Judge Moses appeared in the top ten rankings one year (ranked 1) and five years ago (rank 2).

  • Judge Robert C. Brack in the District of New Mexico ranked 2nd with 94 defendants in cases. Judge Brack appeared in the top ten rankings one year (ranked 2) and five years ago (rank 1).

  • Judge Kenneth John Gonzales in the District of New Mexico ranked 3rd with 90 defendants in cases. Judge Gonzales also appeared in the top ten rankings one year ago (ranked 3).

Report Generated: January 24, 2018
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