Prosecutions for December 2017
Referring Agency: Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Table 1. Criminal Prosecutions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during December 2017 the government reported 758 new prosecutions for these matters. Those cases were referred by the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 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 (19.3%).
Prosecutions over the past year are still much higher than they were five years ago.
Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are up 9.1 percent from levels reported in 2012.
The growth 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 increase in
prosecutions is 5.3 percent instead of 9.1 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.
Figure 1. Monthly Trends in Prosecutions
The increase 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. To view trends year-by-year rather than month-by-month, see TRAC's annual report series for a broader picture.
Cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.
The largest number of prosecutions of these matters in December 2017 was for "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major", accounting for 57.1 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen" (18.3%), "Drugs-Drug Trafficking" (16.9%), "Other Criminal Prosecutions" (2.5%), "Violence-Other" (2.1%).
See Figure 2.
Figure 2. Specific Types of Prosecutions
Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts
Top Ranked Lead Charges
In December 2017, 62 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 18 U.S.C Section 922 involving "Firearms; Unlawful acts". This was the lead charge
for 54.8 percent of all magistrate filings in December.
Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "18 USC 924 - Firearms; Penalties" (14.5%).
Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts
In December 2017, 696 defendants in new cases
for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during December there
were an additional 89 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 Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Table 2. Top Charges Filed
"Firearms; Unlawful acts" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 922) was the most frequent recorded lead charge.
"Firearms; Unlawful acts" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 922) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 five years ago.
Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 841.
"Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 841 was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 five years ago.
Ranked 3rd was "Firearms; Penalties" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 924.
"Firearms; Penalties" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 924 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 333.3 percent — compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 554
that involves " Smuggling goods from the United States ".
Compared to five years ago, the largest increase — 38.5 percent — was registered for
prosecutions under " Carjacking " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 2119 ).
Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest
decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago — down 24.8 percent — was
" Attempt and conspiracy " (Title 21 U.S.C Section 846 ).
This was the same statute that had the largest decrease — 33 % — when compared with five years ago.
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
In December 2017 the Justice Department said the government brought 291.5 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.
Table 3. Top 10 Districts (per ten million people)
The Eastern District of Washington (Spokane) — with 2197 prosecutions as compared with 291.5 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States — was the most active during December 2017.
The Southern District of Georgia (Savannah) ranked 2nd.
The Southern District of Georgia (Savannah) was ranked 10 a year ago.
Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) is now ranking 3rd.
Recent entrants to the top 10 list were
Western District of Tennessee (Memphis), now ranked
, and Eastern District of Texas (Tyler)
In the same order, these districts ranked 15th and 17th one year ago and 16th and 16th five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth
in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago — 325 percent — was
Southern District of West Virginia (Charleston).
This was the same district that had the largest increase — 325 percent — when compared with five years ago.
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the
largest drop in the rate of prosecutions — 37.1 percent — was
Southern District of Georgia (Savannah).
But over the past five years,
Eastern District of Tennessee (Knoxville)
showed the largest drop — 29.8 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.
A total of 7 out of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of filings per capita, while the remaining 5 judges were from other districts. (Because of ties, there were a total of 12 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)
Judge Carmen Consuelo Cerezo in the District of Puerto Rico ranked 1st with 45 defendants in cases.
Judge Thomas Owen Rice in the Eastern District of Washington (Spokane) ranked 2nd with 26 defendants in cases.
Judges Louise W. Flanagan in the Eastern District of North Carolina (Raleigh), Waverly David Crenshaw, Jr. in the Middle District of Tennessee (Nashville), Sheryl Halle Lipman in the Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) and Keith F. Giblin in the Eastern District of Texas (Tyler) ranked 3rd with 11 defendants in cases.
Report Generated: January 24, 2018