Prosecutions for December 2012

Number Latest Month 15,313
Percent Change from previous month 14.0
Percent Change from 1 year ago 10.0
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) 47.2
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -4.3
Table 1: Criminal Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during December 2012 the government reported 15313 new prosecutions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 14% 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 up (10 percent). Prosecutions over the past year are still much higher than they were five years ago. Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are up 47.2 percent from levels reported in 2007.

Plot of _FREQ_ by FYMONDT

Figure 1: Monthly trends in prosecutions

The increase 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 2012 was for "Immigration", accounting for 64.2 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking" (8.7%), " Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen" (7.5%), "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major" (3.4%), "Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (2.2%), "Assimilated Crimes" (2.2%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for prosecutions in December 2012 was DHS accounting for 70 percent of prosecutions referred. Other agencies with substantial numbers of referrals were: DEA (7% ), FBI (6%), ATF (4%), Defense (2%). See Figure 3.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2: Specific types of prosecutions
Pie chart of agenrevgrp

Figure 3: Prosecutions by investigative agency

Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In December 2012, 10837 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 8 U.S.C Section 1325 involving the "Entry of alien at improper time or place; etc.". This was the lead charge for 61.7 percent of all magistrate filings in December.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "08 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien" (19.7%).

Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In December 2012, 4476 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during December there were an additional 1912 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 2012.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
08 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien 1,477 1 1 1 More
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 767 2 2 2 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 515 3 3 3 More
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 429 4 4 4 More
08 USC 1324 - Bringing in and harboring certain aliens 202 5 5 5 More
21 USC 952 - Importation of controlled substances 190 6 6 8 More
18 USC 641 - Public money, property or records 145 7 13 14 More
18 USC 2252 - Material involving sexual exploitation of minors 123 8 8 9 More
18 USC 1546 - Fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents 80 9 9 13 More
18 USC 2113 - Bank robbery and incidental crimes 77 10 11 6 More
Table 2: Top charges filed

  • "Reentry of deported alien" (Title 8 U.S.C Section 1326) was the most frequent recorded lead charge. "Reentry of deported alien" (Title 8 U.S.C Section 1326) 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 33.7 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 641 that involves " Public money, property or records ". Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—55.1 percent—was registered for prosecutions under " Importation of controlled substances " (Title 21 U.S.C Section 952 ).

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago—down 19.9 percent—was Attempt and conspiracy (Title 21 U.S.C Section 846 ). Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions— 29.3 percent—was for filings where the lead charge was " Bank robbery and incidental crimes " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 2113 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In December 2012 the Justice Department said the government brought 2496.9 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  
N Mexico 20,063 336 1 5 5 More
Cal, S 18,965 509 2 2 3 More
Texas, W 11,117 568 3 1 1 More
D. C. 8,205 41 4 65 79 More
N Dakota 7,977 43 5 56 72 More
Texas, S 7,576 531 6 4 2 More
S Dakota 6,647 45 7 40 54 More
Ala, S 5,816 40 8 58 38 More
Arizona 5,731 315 9 3 4 More
Mo, W 5,069 130 10 30 24 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)

  • The District of New Mexico—with 20063 prosecutions as compared with 2496.9 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during December 2012. The District of New Mexico was ranked 5 a year ago, while it was ranked 5 for most frequent use five years ago.

  • The Southern District of California (San Diego) ranked 2nd. The Southern District of California (San Diego) was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 3 for most frequent use five years ago.

  • Western District of Texas (San Antonio) is now ranking 3rd. The Western District of Texas (San Antonio) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 for most frequent use five years ago.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Western District of Missouri (Kansas City), now ranked 10th , and South Dakota at 7th In the same order, these districts ranked 30th and 40th one year ago and 24th and 54th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago— 41.2 percent—was South Dakota . This was the same district that had the largest increase— 64.7 percent—when compared with five years ago.

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of prosecutions— 33 percent—was Arizona .  But over the past five years, Southern District of Alabama (Mobile) showed the largest drop— 32.3 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 December 2012 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Brack, Robert C. N Mexico 166 1 25 9 More
Moses, Alia Texas, W 123 2 1 - More
Junell, Robert A. Texas, W 119 3 2 12 More
Garcia-Gregory, Jay A. Puer Rico 62 4 91 34 More
Tagle, Hilda G. Texas, S 57 5 20 13 More
Gonzalez, Irma Elsa Cal, S 48 6 37 29 More
Alvarez, Micaela Texas, S 48 6 8 5 More
Crane, Randy Texas, S 47 8 3 4 More
Cardone, Kathleen Texas, W 47 8 6 8 More
Hanen, Andrew S. Texas, S 46 10 23 11 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

A total of 9 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 1 judges were from other districts.

  • Judge Robert C. Brack in the District of New Mexico ranked 1st with 166 defendants in cases.

  • Judge Alia Moses in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 2nd with 123 defendants in cases. Judge Mosesalso appeared in the top ten rankings one year ago(ranked 1).

  • Judge Robert A. Junell in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 3rd with 119 defendants in cases. Judge Junellalso appeared in the top ten rankings one year ago(ranked 2).

Report Generated: February 20, 2013
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