Federal Criminal Prosecutions Plummet in Wake of COVID-19
(28 May 2020) New criminal prosecutions dropped by 80 percent between February and April—from 13,843 during February 2020, before federal shutdowns to control the spread of COVID-19 began, to just 2,824 in April 2020. This means that only one-fifth the usual prosecutions took place.

Two major factors contributed to this precipitous decline. First, referrals to federal prosecutors from all the major investigative agencies fell sharply. In February 2020 federal prosecutors recorded receiving roughly 17,600 criminal referrals. These dropped to just under 8,000 during April.

But this alone does not explain the extent of the collapse. Prosecutors also filed suit on relatively few of the referrals they did receive.

Convictions fell less precipitously. Federal attorneys handling prosecutions already underway were able to strike many plea agreements and thus procured 6,638 new convictions. That was more than twice the number of new prosecutions (2,824) recorded in April.

Regardless of the kinds of cases involved, there was a marked decline in prosecutions during April compared with the average of the first five months of FY 2020 (October 2019 through February 2020). Declines were higher than average among cases involving civil rights (down 92%) and immigration (down 86%), while terrorism cases - always few in number - declined the least (29%). The Federal Bureau of Investigation was least successful in having its criminal referrals result in federal attorneys deciding to prosecute.

For further details by type of offense and lead investigative agency go to:

In addition to these most recent figures, TRAC continues to offer free monthly reports on selected government agencies such as the FBI, ATF, DHS and the IRS. TRAC's reports also monitor program categories such as immigration, drugs, weapons, and terrorism. Even more detailed criminal enforcement information for the period from FY 1986 through April 2020 is available to TRACFed subscribers via Express and Going Deeper tools. Go to for more information. Customized reports for a specific agency, district, program, lead charge or judge are available via the TRAC Data Interpreter, either as part of a TRACFed subscription or on a per-report basis. Go to

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