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 April 2020 the government reported 2824 new prosecutions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 74.8 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 2020 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of filings was down (-28.3%).
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 3.2 percent from levels reported in 2015.
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 April 2020 was for "Immigration", accounting for 38.5 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking" (15.6%), "Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen" (8.9%), "Assimilated Crimes" (8%), "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major" (7.2%), "Other Criminal Prosecutions" (5.6%), "Project Safe Childhood" (2.6%), "Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (2.5%).
See Figure 2.
The lead investigative agency for prosecutions in April 2020
was DHS accounting for 49 percent of prosecutions referred.
Other agencies with substantial numbers of referrals were:
FBI (11% ), DEA (11%), Defense (10%), ATF (7%).
See Figure 3.
Figure 2. Specific Types of Prosecutions
Figure 3. Prosecutions by Investigative Agency
Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts
Top Ranked Lead Charges
In April 2020, 2238 defendants 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 April the most frequently cited lead charge was
Title 8 U.S.C Section 1325 involving "Entry of alien at improper time or place; etc.". This was the lead charge
for 29.3 percent of all magistrate filings in April.
Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "08 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien" (11.4%), "21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" (7.7%), "21 USC 952 - Importation of controlled substances" (5.7%), "Other US Code Section" (5.4%).
Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts
In April 2020, 586 defendants in new cases
for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during April there
were an additional 1274 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 April.
Top Ranked Lead Charges
Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of matters
filed in U.S. District Court during April 2020.
"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 "Bringing in and harboring certain aliens" under Title 8 U.S.C Section 1324.
"Bringing in and harboring certain aliens" under Title 8 U.S.C Section 1324 was ranked 5 a year ago, while it was ranked 5 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 4 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 18 percent — compared to one year ago was Title 8 U.S.C Section 1324
that involves " Bringing in and harboring certain aliens ".
This was the same statute that had the largest increase — 79.2 % — 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 30.8 percent — was
" Bank Fraud " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1344 ).
This was the same statute that had the largest decrease — 34.6 % — when compared with five years ago.
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
In April 2020 the Justice Department's case-by-case records show that the government brought 682.2 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.
Table 3. Top 10 Districts (per ten million people)
The Western District of Texas (San Antonio) — with 10177 prosecutions as compared with 682.2 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States — was the most active during April 2020.
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.
The District of New Mexico ranked 2nd.
The District of New Mexico was ranked 5 a year ago, while it was ranked 4 for most frequent use five years ago.
Southern District of California (San Diego) is now ranking 3rd.
The Southern District of California (San Diego) was ranked 3 a year ago, while it was ranked 5 for most frequent use five years ago.
Recent entrants to the top 10 list were
Eastern District of North Carolina (Raleigh), now ranked
, and Southern District of Georgia (Savannah)
In the same order, these districts ranked 17th and 30th one year ago and 24th and 74th five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth
in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago — 66.1 percent — was
Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth — 77.1 percent — was
Southern District of Georgia (Savannah).
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the
largest drop in the rate of prosecutions — 38.7 percent — was
But over the past five years,
showed the largest drop — 35.1 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 April 2020 are shown in Table 4.
All 10 of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of filings per capit.
Judge Alia M. Moses in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 1st with 286 defendants in cases.
Judge Moses appeared in the top ten rankings one year (ranked 2) and five years ago (rank 2).
Judge David C. Guaderrama in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 2nd with 61 defendants in cases.
Judge Guaderrama also appeared in the top ten rankings one year ago (ranked 6).
Judge Frank Montalvo in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 3rd with 60 defendants in cases.
Judge Montalvo appeared in the top ten rankings one year (ranked 7) and five years ago (rank 8).