Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court)
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court)
Table 1. Criminal Convictions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during April 2021 the government reported 5639 new convictions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 13.3 percent 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 2021 convictions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of convictions was down (-52%).
Convictions over the past year are still much lower than they were five years ago.
Overall, the data show that convictions of this type are down 52 percent from levels reported in 2016.
The dip 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 decrease in
convictions is 15 percent instead of 52 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.
Figure 1. Monthly Trends in Convictions
The decrease 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 April 2021 was for "Immigration", accounting for 32.9 percent of convictions. Convictions were also filed for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking" (19.5%), "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major" (14.3%), "Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (8.2%), "Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen" (3.7%), "Project Safe Childhood" (3.4%).
See Figure 2.
The lead investigative agency for convictions in April 2021
was DHS accounting for 43 percent of convictions.
Other agencies with substantial numbers of convictions were:
FBI (15% ), DEA (14%), ATF (12%), Local (4%).
See Figure 3.
Figure 2. Specific Types of Convictions
Figure 3. Convictions by Investigative Agency
Convictions in U.S. Magistrate Courts
Top Ranked Lead Charges
In April 2021, 203 defendants were convicted 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 18 U.S.C Section 7 involving "Special Maritime/Territorial Jurisdiction of US". This was the lead charge
for 26.6 percent of all magistrate convictions in April.
Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "Other US Code Section" (10.8%), "08 USC 1324 - Bringing in and harboring certain aliens" (9.9%), "18 USC 19 - Petty Offense Defined" (5.4%), "21 USC 844 - Penalty for simple possession" (5.4%).
Convictions in U.S. District Courts
In April 2021, 5436 defendants in new cases
for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during April 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 April.
Top Ranked Lead Charges
Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the convictions of matters
filed in U.S. District Court during April 2021.
"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 "Firearms; Unlawful acts" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 922.
"Firearms; Unlawful acts" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 922 was ranked 3 a year ago, while it was ranked 4 five years ago.
Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest
increase in convictions — up 8.6 percent — compared to one year ago was Title 21 U.S.C Section 952
that involves " Importation of controlled substances ".
Compared to five years ago, the largest increase — 301.1 percent — was registered for
convictions under "Other US Code Section " (Title U.S.C Section ).
Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest
decline in convictions compared to one year ago — down 47.3 percent — was
" Reentry of deported alien " (Title 8 U.S.C Section 1326 ).
Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in convictions — 48.9 percent — was
for convictions where the lead charge was " Material involving sexual exploitation of minors " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 2252 ).
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
In April 2021 the Justice Department's case-by-case records show that the government obtained 1987.3 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.
Table 3. Top 10 Districts (per ten million people)
The Southern District of California (San Diego) — with 11217 convictions as compared with 1987.3 convictions per ten million population in the United States — was the most active during April 2021.
The Southern District of California (San Diego) was ranked 5 a year ago, while it was ranked 5 for most frequent use five years ago.
The Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) ranked 2nd.
The Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) was ranked 9 a year ago.
District of Arizona is now ranking 3rd.
The District of Arizona was ranked 3 a year ago, while it was ranked 4 for most frequent use five years ago.
Recent entrants to the top 10 list were
South Dakota , now ranked
, and Northern District of Oklahoma (Tulsa)
In the same order, these districts ranked 29th and 63rd one year ago and 33rd and 78th five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth
in the rate of convictions compared to one year ago — 80 percent — was
Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth — 33.9 percent — was
Southern District of Texas (Houston).
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the
largest drop in the rate of convictions — 70.3 percent — was
New Mexico .
This was the same district that had the largest increase — 71.7 percent — when compared with five years ago.
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 April 2021 are shown in Table 4.