Prosecutions for January 2013

Referring Agency: Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Number Latest Month 599
Percent Change from previous month -0.8
Percent Change from 1 year ago -11.7
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -15.9
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -19.3
Table 1: Criminal Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during January 2013 the government reported 599 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 down 0.8% 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 (-11.7 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 15.9 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 January 2013 was for "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major", accounting for 58.3 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen " (21.7%), "Drugs-Drug Trafficking" (8.5%), "Violence-Other" (5.3%). See Figure 2.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2: Specific types of prosecutions

Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In January 2013, 85 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 January 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 60 percent of all magistrate filings in January.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act" (8.2%), "21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" (7.1%).

Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In January 2013, 514 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during January there were an additional 64 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 January.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

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

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 297 1 1 1 More
18 USC 924 - Firearms; Penalties 37 2 5 4 More
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 31 3 2 2 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 23 4 3 3 More
18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act 20 5 4 5 More
26 USC 5861 - Tax on Making Firearms - Prohibited acts 12 6 6 6 More
18 USC 1962 - RICO - prohibited activities 8 7 18 34 More
18 USC 842 - Explosives - Importation, manufacture, etc 4 8 11 9 More
18 USC 1029 - Fraud and related activity - access devices 2 9 - - More
08 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien 1 10 38 17 More
18 USC 81 - Arson in special maritime and territorial jurisdic 1 10 38 34 More
18 USC 111 - Assaulting, resisting, impeding certain officers 1 10 28 17 More
18 USC 247 - Damage to religious prop; obstruct religious excer 1 10 - - More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 1 10 7 7 More
18 USC 751 - Escape - Prisoners in custody 1 10 38 - More
18 USC 875 - Interstate Communications 1 10 - - More
18 USC 1922 - False or withheld report - Fed employee's comp 1 10 - 34 More
18 USC 2119 - Carjacking 1 10 11 9 More
18 USC 2250 - Fail to register as sex offender after traveling interstate commerce 1 10 - 34 More
18 USC 2251 - Sexual exploitation of children 1 10 - - More
18 USC 2342 - Trafficking in contraband cigarettes Unlawful acts 1 10 10 11 More
18 USC 3583 - Term of supervised release after imprisonment 1 10 14 - More
21 USC 860 - Distribution or manufacturing in or near schools a 1 10 - - More
21 USC 959 - Possession, manufacture, or distribution for purpo 1 10 - - 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 "Firearms; Penalties" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 924. "Firearms; Penalties" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 924 was ranked 5 a year ago, while it was ranked 4 five years ago.

  • Ranked 3rd was "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.

Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest increase in prosecutions—up 275 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 1962 that involves " RICO - prohibited activities ". This was the same statute that had the largest increase—1400 %—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 21.2 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— 29.3 percent—was for filings where the lead charge was " Tax on Making Firearms - Prohibited acts " (Title 26 U.S.C Section 5861 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In January 2013 the Justice Department said the government brought 225.9 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  
Tenn, W 1,081 14 1 32 9 More
Alaska 1,051 6 2 75 84 More
Virg, W 1,017 18 3 23 24 More
Okla, E 984 6 4 82 88 More
Vermont 965 5 5 76 75 More
Kansas 937 22 6 1 30 More
Tenn, E 907 19 7 7 19 More
Ala, S 872 6 8 23 45 More
N Car, E 755 23 9 2 8 More
Montana 615 5 10 40 35 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)

  • The Western District of Tennessee (Memphis)—with 1081 prosecutions as compared with 225.9 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during January 2013.

  • The District of Alaska ranked 2nd.

  • Western District of Virginia (Roanoke) is now ranking 3rd.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Western District of Virginia (Roanoke), now ranked 3rd , and Southern District of Alabama (Mobile) at 8th In the same order, these districts ranked 23rd and 23rd one year ago and 24th and 45th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago— 56.3 percent—was Vermont . Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 200 percent—was Eastern District of Oklahoma (Muskogee).

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of prosecutions— 56.5 percent—was Montana .  This was the same district that had the largest increase— 57.4 percent—when compared with five years ago.

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 January 2013 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Merryday, Steven Douglas Fla, M 13 1 More
Robinson, Julie A. Kansas 10 2 More
Russell, Thomas B. Ken, W 10 2 More
Moon, Norman K. Virg, W 10 2 More
Mattice, Harry Sandlin, Jr. Tenn, E 9 5 More
Garcia Marmolejo, Marina Texas, S 9 5 More
Moody, James S., Jr. Fla, M 6 7 More
Murguia, Carlos Kansas 6 7 More
Harwell, Robert Bryan S Car 6 7 More
Smith, G. R. Ga, S 5 10 More
Vratil, Kathryn Hoefer Kansas 5 10 More
Goldsmith, Mark Allan Mich, E 5 10 More
Bell, Robert Holmes Mich, W 5 10 More
Maloney, Paul Lewis Mich, W 5 10 More
Flanagan, Louise W. N Car, E 5 10 More
Fowlkes, John Thomas, Jr. Tenn, W 5 10 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

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 9 judges were from other districts. (Because of ties, there were a total of 16 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Steven Douglas Merryday in the Middle District of Florida (Tampa) ranked 1st with 13 defendants in cases.

  • Judges Julie A. Robinson in the District of Kansas, Thomas B. Russell in the Western District of Kentucky (Louisville) and Norman K. Moon in the Western District of Virginia (Roanoke) ranked 2nd with 10 defendants in cases.

Report Generated: March 5, 2013
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