Prosecutions for August 2017

Referring Agency: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Number Latest Month 1,248
Percent Change from previous month 33.6
Percent Change from 1 year ago 9.1
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Including Magistrate Court)
-6.7
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Excluding Magistrate Court)
-11.1
Table 1. Criminal Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during August 2017 the government reported 1248 new prosecutions for these matters. Those cases were referred by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 33.6 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 (9.1%). 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 6.7 percent from levels reported in 2012.

Bar and line plot of FYMON

Figure 1. Monthly Trends in Prosecutions

The leveling out 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 August 2017 was for "Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen", accounting for 24.2 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (12.3%), "Drugs-Drug Trafficking" (11.2%), "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major" (7.9%), "Project Safe Childhood" (7.8%), "Violence-Other" (7.5%), "Bank Robbery" (5.8%), "Fraud-Financial Institution" (4.3%), "Fraud-Other" (3.5%), "Other Criminal Prosecutions" (3.4%). See Figure 2.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2. Specific Types of Prosecutions

Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In August 2017, 255 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 August the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 18 U.S.C Section 2113 involving "Bank robbery and incidental crimes". This was the lead charge for 12.2 percent of all magistrate filings in August.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" (12.2%), "18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts" (8.2%).

Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In August 2017, 993 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during August there were an additional 144 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 August.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of matters filed in U.S. District Court during August 2017 referred by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 170 1 2 1 More
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 106 2 1 2 More
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 74 3 4 4 More
18 USC 2113 - Bank robbery and incidental crimes 69 4 3 3 More
18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act 43 5 7 10 More
18 USC 2252 - Material involving sexual exploitation of minors 43 5 5 5 More
18 USC 1344 - Bank Fraud 40 7 13 11 More
18 USC 1343 - Fraud by wire, radio, or television 36 8 6 6 More
18 USC 1962 - RICO - prohibited activities 25 9 20 17 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 19 10 9 9 More
Table 2. Top Charges Filed

  • "Attempt and conspiracy" (Title 21 U.S.C Section 846) was the most frequent recorded lead charge. "Attempt and conspiracy" (Title 21 U.S.C Section 846) was ranked 2 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 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 five years ago.

  • Ranked 3rd was "Firearms; Unlawful acts" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 922. "Firearms; Unlawful acts" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 922 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 59.6 percent — compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 1962 that involves " RICO - prohibited activities ". Compared to five years ago, the largest increase — 67.1 percent — was registered for prosecutions under " Hobbs Act " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1951 ).

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago — down 17.6 percent — was " Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A " (Title 21 U.S.C Section 841 ). Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions — 44.2 percent — was for filings where the lead charge was " Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 371 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In August 2017 the Justice Department said the government brought 424.5 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.


Judicial District Percapita Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Ga, S 4,292 56 1 42 79 More
Alaska 3,016 18 2 62 85 More
Ala, S 2,136 15 3 58 62 More
S Dakota 1,706 12 4 32 21 More
Penn, W 1,655 52 5 35 18 More
S Car 1,299 53 6 14 15 More
Tenn, E 1,252 27 7 19 28 More
La, M 1,156 8 8 81 82 More
N Mexico 1,151 20 9 26 30 More
La, E 1,148 16 10 58 61 More
Table 3. Top 10 Districts (per ten million people)

  • The Southern District of Georgia (Savannah) — with 4292 prosecutions as compared with 424.5 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States — was the most active during August 2017.

  • The District of Alaska ranked 2nd.

  • Southern District of Alabama (Mobile) is now ranking 3rd.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were South Carolina , now ranked 6th , and Eastern District of Tennessee (Knoxville) at 7th In the same order, these districts ranked 14th and 19th one year ago and 15th and 28th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago — 122.7 percent — was Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh). Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth — 341.7 percent — was Alaska .

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of prosecutions — 13.9 percent — was Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).  But over the past five years, South Dakota showed the largest drop — 41.8 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 August 2017 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Schwab, Arthur J. Penn, W 30 1 491 345 More
Maloney, Paul Lewis Mich, W 23 2 56 397 More
Adams, John R. Ohio, N 23 2 356 80 More
Greer, J. Ronnie Tenn, E 21 4 211 147 More
Smith, G. R. Ga, S 17 5 7 174 More
Nugent, Donald C. Ohio, N 16 6 149 1 More
Cercone, David S. Penn, W 13 7 244 397 More
O'Connor, Reed Charles Texas, N 13 7 70 613 More
Cooke, Marcia G. Fla, S 12 9 42 244 More
Burgess, Timothy Mark Alaska 10 10 30 204 More
Brinkema, Leonie M. Virg, E 10 10 92 147 More
Table 4. Top Ten 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 Arthur J. Schwab in the Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh) ranked 1st with 30 defendants in cases.

  • Judges Paul Lewis Maloney in the Western District of Michigan (Grand Rapids) and John R. Adams in the Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland) ranked 2nd with 23 defendants in cases.

Report Generated: September 19, 2017
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