Prosecutions for February 2013

Referring Agency: Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Number Latest Month 691
Percent Change from previous month 15.7
Percent Change from 1 year ago -12.9
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -15.1
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -18.5
Table 1: Criminal Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during February 2013 the government reported 691 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 15.7% 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 2013 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was down (-12.9 percent). 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 15.1 percent from levels reported in 2008.

Plot of _FREQ_ by FYMONDT

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. 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 February 2013 was for "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major", accounting for 50.8 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen " (31.8%), "Drugs-Drug Trafficking" (9%), "Violence-Other" (3.5%). See Figure 2.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2: Specific types of prosecutions

Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In February 2013, 84 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 February the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 18 U.S.C Section 922 involving the "Firearms; Unlawful acts". This was the lead charge for 54.8 percent of all magistrate filings in February.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy" (16.7%), "18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act" (6%).

Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In February 2013, 607 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during February there were an additional 82 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 February.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of matters filed in U.S. District Court during February 2013referred by the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 312 1 1 1 More
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 40 2 2 2 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 28 3 3 3 More
18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act 25 4 5 5 More
18 USC 924 - Firearms; Penalties 22 5 4 4 More
26 USC 5861 - Tax on Making Firearms - Prohibited acts 12 6 6 6 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 5 7 7 9 More
18 USC 844 - Explosives - Importation and storage of explosives 5 7 8 7 More
18 USC 1513 - Retaliating against a witness, victim or informant 4 9 32 21 More
18 USC 2 - Aiding and Abetting 2 10 21 19 More
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 "Attempt and conspiracy" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 846. "Attempt and conspiracy" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 846 was ranked 3 a year ago, while it was ranked 3 five years ago.

Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest increase in prosecutions—up 700 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 1513 that involves " Retaliating against a witness, victim or informant ". This was the same statute that had the largest increase—166.7 %—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 40.4 percent—was Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US (Title 18 U.S.C Section 371 ). Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions— 50 percent—was for filings where the lead charge was " Aiding and Abetting " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 2 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In February 2013 the Justice Department said the government brought 269.3 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  
N Dakota 2,041 11 1 70 67 More
Vermont 1,544 8 2 69 77 More
Mich, E 1,535 84 3 11 22 More
Mich, W 1,269 36 4 51 51 More
Tenn, W 1,236 16 5 37 8 More
N Car, M 1,079 25 6 14 30 More
Ill, C 970 18 7 76 76 More
W Virg, S 909 7 8 85 87 More
Fla, N 907 13 9 44 77 More
Virg, W 904 16 10 37 26 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)

  • The District of North Dakota—with 2041 prosecutions as compared with 269.3 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during February 2013.

  • The District of Vermont ranked 2nd.

  • Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit) is now ranking 3rd.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit), now ranked 3rd , and Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro) at 6th In the same order, these districts ranked 11th and 14th one year ago and 22nd and 30th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago— 126.7 percent—was Central District of Illinois (Springfield). Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 128.6 percent—was Vermont .

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of prosecutions— 50 percent—was Northern District of Florida (Pensacola).  But over the past five years, Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) showed the largest drop— 28.3 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 February 2013 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Cleland, Robert Hardy Mich, E 54 1 368 567 More
Bell, Robert Holmes Mich, W 30 2 114 132 More
Breen, J. Daniel Tenn, W 15 3 59 38 More
Goldsmith, Mark Allan Mich, E 12 4 6 - More
Mueller, Kimberly Jo Cal, E 10 5 444 - More
Hanen, Andrew S. Texas, S 9 6 243 - More
Moon, Norman K. Virg, W 8 7 - 50 More
Russell, Thomas B. Ken, W 7 8 2 11 More
Hovland, Daniel L. N Dakota 7 8 99 286 More
Murphy, G. Patrick Ill, S 6 10 170 286 More
Sessions, William K., III Vermont 6 10 202 160 More
Jones, James Parker Virg, W 6 10 202 132 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

A total of 8 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 4 judges were from other districts. (Because of ties, there were a total of 12 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Robert Hardy Cleland in the Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit) ranked 1st with 54 defendants in cases.

  • Judge Robert Holmes Bell in the Western District of Michigan (Grand Rapids) ranked 2nd with 30 defendants in cases.

  • Judge J. Daniel Breen in the Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) ranked 3rd with 15 defendants in cases.

Report Generated: April 23, 2013
TRAC Copyright
Copyright 2013, TRAC Reports, Inc.

TRAC RSS Feed for this page Email Feed for this page Email this page