Prosecutions for December 2017

Referring Agency: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Number Latest Month 1,013
Percent Change from previous month 0.1
Percent Change from 1 year ago 17.8
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Including Magistrate Court)
-2.5
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Excluding Magistrate Court)
-6.8
Table 1. Criminal Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during December 2017 the government reported 1013 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 0.1 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 (17.8%). 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 2.5 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 December 2017 was for "Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen", accounting for 26.4 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking" (11.5%), "Project Safe Childhood" (8.5%), "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major" (7.1%), "Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (6.8%), "Bank Robbery" (6.4%), "Violence-Other" (5.7%), "Other Criminal Prosecutions" (4%), "Violence-Indian Country" (3.2%), "Fraud-Other" (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 December 2017, 151 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 21 U.S.C Section 841 involving "Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A". This was the lead charge for 11.9 percent of all magistrate filings in December.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "18 USC 2113 - Bank robbery and incidental crimes" (11.3%), "18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts" (10.6%), "21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy" (6.6%).

Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In December 2017, 862 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during December there were an additional 127 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 98 1 2 1 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 80 2 1 2 More
18 USC 2113 - Bank robbery and incidental crimes 73 3 3 3 More
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 64 4 4 6 More
18 USC 1343 - Fraud by wire, radio, or television 52 5 6 4 More
18 USC 2252 - Material involving sexual exploitation of minors 38 6 5 5 More
18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act 36 7 7 11 More
18 USC 1962 - RICO - prohibited activities 22 8 14 22 More
18 USC 1344 - Bank Fraud 15 9 12 10 More
18 USC 113 - Assaults within maritime and territorial jurisdictions 13 10 9 12 More
18 USC 1029 - Fraud and related activity - access devices 13 10 15 25 More
Table 2. Top Charges Filed

  • "Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" (Title 21 U.S.C Section 841) was the most frequent recorded lead charge. "Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" (Title 21 U.S.C Section 841) was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 five years ago.

  • Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Attempt and conspiracy" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 846. "Attempt and conspiracy" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 846 was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 five years ago.

  • Ranked 3rd was "Bank robbery and incidental crimes" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 2113. "Bank robbery and incidental crimes" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 2113 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 46.8 percent — compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 922 that involves " Firearms; Unlawful acts ". Compared to five years ago, the largest increase — 131.4 percent — was registered for prosecutions under " RICO - prohibited activities " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1962 ).

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago — down 28.6 percent — was " Assaults within maritime and territorial jurisdictions " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 113 ). Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions — 32.7 percent — was for filings where the lead charge was " Bank Fraud " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1344 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In December 2017 the Justice Department said the government brought 367.3 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  
D. C. 2,995 17 1 22 15 More
W Virg, N 1,291 10 2 82 82 More
Okla, W 1,135 20 3 61 36 More
Ill, C 1,081 20 4 73 52 More
Montana 1,036 9 5 30 23 More
Nebraska 1,007 16 6 30 61 More
Alaska 1,000 6 7 80 77 More
Ohio, N 964 46 8 16 8 More
Utah 865 22 9 35 40 More
N Mexico 807 14 10 18 46 More
Table 3. Top 10 Districts (per ten million people)

  • The District of Washington, D.C. (Washington) — with 2995 prosecutions as compared with 367.3 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States — was the most active during December 2017.

  • The Northern District of West Virginia (Wheeling) ranked 2nd.

  • Western District of Oklahoma (Oklahoma City) is now ranking 3rd.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland), now ranked 8th , and New Mexico at 10th In the same order, these districts ranked 16th and 18th one year ago and 8th and 46th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago — 225 percent — was Alaska . This was the same district that had the largest increase — 205.9 percent — when compared with five years ago.

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of prosecutions — 43.6 percent — was Washington, D.C. (Washington).  This was the same district that had the largest increase — 63.9 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 December 2017 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Boyko, Christopher A. Ohio, N 29 1 38 49 More
Stivers, Gregory N. Ken, W 12 2 48 - More
Chen, Edward Milton Cal, N 11 3 - 216 More
Springmann, Theresa Lazar Ind, N 11 3 14 158 More
Cauthron, Robin J. Okla, W 11 3 291 628 More
Rayes, Douglas Leroy Arizona 10 6 48 - More
Nunley, Troy Lynne Cal, E 10 6 539 - More
Noel, Franklin L. Minnesota 10 6 539 - More
Bunning, David L. Ken, E 9 9 234 107 More
Blake, Catherine C. Maryland 8 10 85 531 More
Howard, Malcolm Jones N Car, E 8 10 291 418 More
Roman, Nelson Stephen N. Y., S 8 10 23 - More
Table 4. Top Ten Judges

A total of 2 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 10 judges were from other districts. (Because of ties, there were a total of 12 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Christopher A. Boyko in the Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland) ranked 1st with 29 defendants in cases.

  • Judge Gregory N. Stivers in the Western District of Kentucky (Louisville) ranked 2nd with 12 defendants in cases.

  • Judges Edward Milton Chen in the Northern District of California (San Francisco), Theresa Lazar Springmann in the Northern District of Indiana (South Bend) and Robin J. Cauthron in the Western District of Oklahoma (Oklahoma City) ranked 3rd with 11 defendants in cases.

Report Generated: January 24, 2018
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