Prosecutions for August 2023

Referring Agency: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Number Latest Month 1,168
Percent Change from previous month 24.4
Percent Change from 1 year ago 2.7
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Including Magistrate Court)
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Excluding Magistrate Court)
Table 1. Criminal Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during August 2023 the government reported 1168 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 24.4 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 2023 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was up (2.7%). 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 10.4 percent from levels reported in 2018.

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 August 2023 was for "Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen", accounting for 24.7 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking" (14.6%), "Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (11%), "Project Safe Childhood" (9.4%), "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major" (7.2%), "Violence-Other" (6.2%), "Fraud-Other" (4.2%), "Violence-Indian Country" (3.5%), "Terrorism-Domestic" (3.3%), "Bank Robbery" (2.1%). 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 2023, 204 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 21 U.S.C Section 841 involving "Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A". This was the lead charge for 14.2 percent of all magistrate filings in August.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts" (8.3%), "21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy" (5.4%).

Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In August 2023, 964 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during August there were an additional 125 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 2023 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 178 1 1 1 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 75 2 3 2 More
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 61 3 2 3 More
18 USC 1343 - Fraud by wire, radio, or television 52 4 4 7 More
18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act 43 5 7 5 More
18 USC 2252 - Material involving sexual exploitation of minors 39 6 5 6 More
18 USC 1201 - Kidnaping 24 8 33 35 More
18 USC 1752 - Temporary residence and office of President, etc. 23 9 13 - More
18 USC 2113 - Bank robbery and incidental crimes 23 9 6 4 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 1 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 3 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 2 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 103.3 percent — compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 1201 that involves " Kidnaping ". This was the same statute that had the largest increase — 134.6 % — when compared with five years ago.

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago — down 27 percent — was " Firearms; Unlawful acts " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 922 ). Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions — 49.7 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 August 2023 the Justice Department's case-by-case records show that the government brought 393.7 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. 11,641 65 1 2 14 More
Alaska 2,738 16 2 72 62 More
Ken, W 2,316 44 3 63 79 More
N Dakota 2,013 13 4 65 76 More
Okla, E 1,637 10 5 50 82 More
Kansas 1,595 39 6 56 47 More
S Dakota 1,497 11 7 26 51 More
Ala, S 1,394 10 8 66 54 More
La, E 1,366 19 9 62 52 More
Utah 1,330 37 10 36 20 More
Table 3. Top 10 Districts (per ten million people)

  • The District of Washington, D.C. (Washington) — with 11641 prosecutions as compared with 393.7 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States — was the most active during August 2023. The District of Washington, D.C. (Washington) was ranked 2 a year ago.

  • The District of Alaska ranked 2nd.

  • Western District of Kentucky (Louisville) is now ranking 3rd.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were South Dakota , now ranked 7th , and Utah at 10th In the same order, these districts ranked 26th and 36th one year ago and 51st and 20th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago — 116.7 percent — was Alaska . Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth — 288.9 percent — was Western District of Kentucky (Louisville).

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of prosecutions — 20.3 percent — was South Dakota .  But over the past five years, Southern District of Alabama (Mobile) showed the largest drop — 36.5 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 2023 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Nielson, Howard Curtis, Jr. Utah 31 1 321 - More
Weisman, M. David Ill, N 18 2 168 192 More
Cooper, Christopher Reid D. C. 16 3 31 13 More
Ranjan, J. Nicholas Penn, W 16 3 168 - More
Adams, John R. Ohio, N 14 5 117 135 More
Broomes, John Wesley Kansas 12 6 117 - More
Diamond, Paul Steven Penn, E 10 7 562 338 More
Kollar-Kotelly, Colleen D. C. 9 8 19 218 More
Gallagher, Stephanie A. Maryland 9 8 386 - More
Gilliam, Haywood Stirling, Jr. Cal, N 8 10 466 338 More
Welte, Peter David N Dakota 8 10 35 - 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 Howard Curtis Nielson, Jr. in the District of Utah ranked 1st with 31 defendants in cases.

  • Judge M. David Weisman in the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago) ranked 2nd with 18 defendants in cases.

  • Judges Christopher Reid Cooper in the District of Washington, D.C. (Washington) and J. Nicholas Ranjan in the Western District of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh) ranked 3rd with 16 defendants in cases.

Report Generated: October 6, 2023
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