Prosecutions for October 2012

Referring Agency: Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Number Latest Month 912
Percent Change from previous month 47.3
Percent Change from 1 year ago 0.3
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -9.7
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -13.0
Table 1: Criminal Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during October 2012 the government reported 912 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 47.3% 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 2012 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was only slightly up (0.3 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 9.7 percent from levels reported in 2007.

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 October 2012 was for "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major", accounting for 50.2 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen " (18.3%), "Drugs-Drug Trafficking" (14.9%), "Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (9.9%), "Violence-Other" (3.9%). See Figure 2.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2: Specific types of prosecutions

Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In October 2012, 110 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 October 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 58.2 percent of all magistrate filings in October.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy" (19.1%), "21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" (13.6%).

Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In October 2012, 802 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during October there were an additional 60 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 October.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of matters filed in U.S. District Court during October 2012referred by the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 387 1 1 1 More
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 147 2 2 2 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 59 3 3 3 More
18 USC 924 - Firearms; Penalties 32 4 4 4 More
26 USC 5861 - Tax on Making Firearms - Prohibited acts 17 5 6 5 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 13 6 7 7 More
18 USC 844 - Explosives - Importation and storage of explosives 12 7 8 8 More
18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act 9 8 5 6 More
18 USC 1001 - Fraud/false statements or entries generally 3 9 13 11 More
18 USC 4 - Misprision of Felony 2 10 25 16 More
18 USC 111 - Assaulting, resisting, impeding certain officers 2 10 18 25 More
18 USC 554 - Smuggling goods from the United States 2 10 11 19 More
18 USC 2119 - Carjacking 2 10 13 12 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 150 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 4 that involves " Misprision of Felony ". Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—266.7 percent—was registered for prosecutions under " Smuggling goods from the United States " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 554 ).

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago—down 34.3 percent—was Explosives - Importation and storage of explosives (Title 18 U.S.C Section 844 ). Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions— 54.5 percent—was for filings where the lead charge was " Fraud/false statements or entries generally " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1001 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In October 2012 the Justice Department said the government brought 336.9 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  
La, M 1,830 12 1 68 72 More
Mo, W 1,599 41 2 7 4 More
La, E 1,274 17 3 64 41 More
Tenn, W 1,236 16 4 26 16 More
Miss, S 1,172 18 5 60 49 More
Ken, E 996 18 6 44 28 More
N Car, E 952 29 7 2 14 More
Ala, M 867 8 8 61 36 More
Miss, N 866 8 9 76 68 More
Ill, C 863 16 10 68 59 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)

  • The Middle District of Louisiana (Baton Rouge)—with 1830 prosecutions as compared with 336.9 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during October 2012.

  • The Western District of Missouri (Kansas City) ranked 2nd. The Western District of Missouri (Kansas City) was ranked 7 a year ago, while it was ranked 4 for most frequent use five years ago.

  • Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans) is now ranking 3rd.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Western District of Tennessee (Memphis), now ranked 4th , and Eastern District of Kentucky (Lexington) at 6th In the same order, these districts ranked 26th and 44th one year ago and 16th and 28th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago— 66.7 percent—was Eastern District of Kentucky (Lexington). Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 59.2 percent—was Eastern District of North Carolina (Raleigh).

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of prosecutions— 16 percent—was Middle District of Alabama (Montgomery).  This was the same district that had the largest increase— 56.3 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 October 2012 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Dominguez, Daniel R. Puer Rico 75 1 299 41 More
O'Connor, Reed Charles Texas, N 28 2 122 - More
Campbell, David G. Arizona 17 3 248 556 More
Houston, John A. Cal, S 16 4 372 556 More
Reeves, Carlton Wayne Miss, S 15 5 372 - More
Shadid, James Edward Ill, C 14 6 568 - More
Phillips, Mary Elizabeth Mo, W 13 7 - - More
Feldman, Martin Leach-Cross La, E 12 8 460 356 More
Caldwell, Karen K. Ken, E 11 9 460 284 More
Gardephe, Paul G. N. Y., S 11 9 166 - More
Hinojosa, Ricardo H. Texas, S 11 9 59 356 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

A total of 5 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 6 judges were from other districts. (Because of ties, there were a total of 11 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Daniel R. Dominguez in the District of Puerto Rico ranked 1st with 75 defendants in cases.

  • Judge Reed Charles O'Connor in the Northern District of Texas (Fort Worth) ranked 2nd with 28 defendants in cases.

  • Judge David G. Campbell in the District of Arizona ranked 3rd with 17 defendants in cases.

Report Generated: February 6, 2013
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