Convictions for December 2012

Number Latest Month 14,162
Percent Change from previous month 17.5
Percent Change from 1 year ago 13.3
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) 60.7
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) 12.6
Table 1: Criminal Convictions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during December 2012 the government reported 14162 new convictions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 17.5% over the previous month.

The comparisons of the number of defendants convicted 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 convictions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of convictions was up (13.3 percent). Convictions over the past year are still much higher than they were five years ago. Overall, the data show that convictions of this type are up 60.7 percent from levels reported in 2007.

The substantial growth in these cases is partly related to increases in the matters filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. If magistrate cases are excluded and only Federal District Court cases are counted, the overall increase in convictions is 12.6 percent instead of 60.7 percent. The evidence suggests that part of the difference may be the result of improvements in the recording of the magistrate cases by the Justice Department.

Plot of _FREQ_ by FYMONDT

Figure 1: Monthly trends in convictions

The increase from the levels five years ago in convictions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of convictions 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 convictions of these matters in December 2012 was for "Immigration", accounting for 68 percent of convictions. Convictions were also filed for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking" (8%), " Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen" (4%), "Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (3.8%), "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major" (3.7%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for convictions in December 2012 was DHS accounting for 72 percent of convictions. Other agencies with substantial numbers of convictions were: DEA (7% ), FBI (7%), ATF (4%), Interior (2%). See Figure 3.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2: Specific types of convictions
Pie chart of agenrevgrp

Figure 3: Convictions by investigative agency

Convictions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In December 2012, 8198 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 79.4 percent of all magistrate convictions in December.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "08 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien" (14.3%).

Convictions in U.S. District Courts

In December 2012, 5964 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during December there were an additional 0 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 convictions 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 1,564 1 1 1 More
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 779 2 2 2 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 583 3 3 3 More
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 480 4 4 4 More
08 USC 1324 - Bringing in and harboring certain aliens 160 5 5 5 More
18 USC 2252 - Material involving sexual exploitation of minors 99 6 7 11 More
21 USC 952 - Importation of controlled substances 99 6 6 6 More
18 USC 1546 - Fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents 93 8 8 14 More
18 USC 2113 - Bank robbery and incidental crimes 82 9 10 7 More
18 USC 1343 - Fraud by wire, radio, or television 77 10 15 16 More
Table 2: Top charges for convictions

  • "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 convictions—up 19 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 1343 that involves " Fraud by wire, radio, or television ". Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—67.8 percent—was registered for convictions under " Reentry of deported alien " (Title 8 U.S.C Section 1326 ).

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in convictions compared to one year ago—down 11.3 percent—was Attempt and conspiracy (Title 21 U.S.C Section 846 ). Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in convictions— 38.8 percent—was for convictions where the lead charge was " Bringing in and harboring certain aliens " (Title 8 U.S.C Section 1324 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In December 2012 the Justice Department said the government obtained 2331.2 convictions for every ten million people in the United States.

Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of convictions in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.

The districts registering the largest number of convictions per capita for these matters last month are shown in Table 3. Districts must have at least 5 convictions to receive a ranking.


Judicial District Percapita Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
N Mexico 19,346 324 1 5 5 More
Cal, S 14,643 393 2 4 4 More
Texas, W 10,530 538 3 1 2 More
N Dakota 8,348 45 4 57 69 More
S Dakota 7,386 50 5 49 46 More
Texas, S 7,248 508 6 3 1 More
Alaska 7,184 41 7 87 84 More
Vermont 6,755 35 8 79 89 More
Arizona 6,750 371 9 2 3 More
Tenn, W 6,641 86 10 39 32 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)

  • The District of New Mexico—with 19346 convictions as compared with 2331.2 convictions 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 4 a year ago, while it was ranked 4 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 2 for most frequent use five years ago.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Western District of Tennessee (Memphis), now ranked 10th , and South Dakota at 5th In the same order, these districts ranked 39th and 49th one year ago and 32nd and 46th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of convictions compared to one year ago— 85.2 percent—was Alaska . Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 104.6 percent—was Vermont .

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of convictions— 23.7 percent—was Arizona .  But over the past five years, showed the largest drop— 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 resulting in convictions of this type during December 2012 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Brack, Robert C. N Mexico 234 1 26 1 More
Moses, Alia Texas, W 70 2 1 - More
Alvarez, Micaela Texas, S 66 3 10 2 More
Hinojosa, Ricardo H. Texas, S 62 4 6 13 More
Kazen, George P. Texas, S 53 5 15 3 More
Crane, Randy Texas, S 53 5 5 10 More
Briones, David Texas, W 51 7 11 11 More
Smith, Walter Scott, Jr. Texas, W 50 8 29 59 More
Ramos, Nelva Gonzales Texas, S 48 9 722 - More
Crone, Marcia A. Texas, E 47 10 67 70 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 convictions per capita, while the remaining 1 judges were from other districts.

  • Judge Robert C. Brack in the District of New Mexico ranked 1st with 234 convicted in convictions.

  • Judge Alia Moses in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 2nd with 70 convicted in convictions. Judge Mosesalso appeared in the top ten rankings one year ago(ranked 1).

  • Judge Micaela Alvarez in the Southern District of Texas (Houston) ranked 3rd with 66 convicted in convictions. Judge Alvarez appeared in the top ten rankings one year (ranked 10) and five years ago (rank 2).

Report Generated: February 20, 2013
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