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Federal Crimes

Posted in News Articles on 12/04/2008

Federal Crimes

Some startling facts from the U.S. Department of Justice regarding Federal Crimes:

  • The proportion of those convicted in Federal court who are sentenced to prison has been increasing.
  • Of cases concluded in Federal district court since 1989, drug cases have increased at the greatest rate.
  • U.S. attorneys opened matters for investigation against 137,590 suspects during 2005.
  • The number of investigations initiated by U.S. attorneys increased. Fifty-one percent were investigated for public-order offenses such as regulatory (4%); immigration (26%), and weapons (10%) offenses; more than a quarter (27%) were investigated for drug offenses; 18% for property offenses; and 4% for violent offenses such as murder, rape, assault, and robbery.
  • Of the 143,640 suspects in matters, 79% were referred for prosecution either before a U.S. district court judge (60%) or a U.S. magistrate (20%). Nearly all (99%) of those investigated for immigration offenses were referred for prosecution.
  • A third (34%) of defendants charged with a Federal offense were released following the initial court appearance, provided that any court-imposed conditions were satisfied. Three-quarters (76%) were released on their own recognizance or an unsecured bond; 19% were eligible for release on bail; and 5% were released under restrictive conditions such as third-party supervision or home detention.
  • Fifty-six percent of those charged had a pretrial detention hearing; 79% of those with a hearing were ordered detained.
  • Most (79%) of defendants released prior to trial completed their pretrial release without violating the release conditions; 9% had their release revoked. Defendants charged with weapon or drug offenses were less likely to complete release without a violation (64% and 68%, respectively) than other defendants.
  • Criminal cases were commenced against 91,578 defendants in U.S. district court. Most (88%) were charged with a felony offense. Thirty-four percent of felony defendants were charged with a drug offense; 38% of all defendants were charged with a public-order offense — including 20% with an immigration offense and 11% with a weapons offense. Fourteen percent were charged with a property offense.
  • Cases were terminated against 86,680 defendants. Most (90%) defendants were convicted. Of the 78,042 defendants convicted, 74,226 (or 95%) pleaded guilty or no-contest.
  • Of the 78,042 defendants convicted and sentenced, 78% were sentenced to a term of incarceration (either alone or in conjunction with probation), 14% were sentenced to probation (either alone or with incarceration), and 3% were sentenced to pay a fine alone.
  • The average prison sentence imposed was 61 months. Defendants convicted of violent felonies (101 months), weapons felonies (83 months), and drug felonies (86 months) received the longest prison terms, on average.
  • 13,097 appeals of criminal cases were filed with the U.S. Courts of Appeal. Three-quarters (10,169) of these cases challenged the sentence imposed, at least in part.
  • Of the 13,097 appeals terminated, 71% were terminated on the on the merits of the case; 29% were procedural terminations by the courts.
  • Of the 9,311 appeals terminated on their merits, the appellate courts affirmed, or upheld, the district courts’ decisions, at least in part, in 70% of the cases.
  • The Federal Bureau of Prisons received 53,562 inmates from U.S. district courts; an additional 19,113 inmates were received from other sources such as supervision violations; 63,732 inmates were released. 152,459 sentenced offenders were under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
  • Offenders entering Federal prison could expect to serve about 88% of the sentence imposed.
  • 111,807 offenders convicted of Federal offense were on community supervision. About 74% were serving a term of supervised release; 23% were serving a term of probation; and 3% were serving a term of parole on a sentence that was not imposed pursuant to the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984.
  • 1,477 defendants were charged in U.S. district court with money laundering as the most serious offense filed.
  • Ten federal judicial districts referred 46% of all money laundering matters.  Most money laundering prosecutions involved an underlying property or drug trafficking offense (60%).
  • Of the 1,243 defendants convicted of money laundering, most were U.S. citizens (77%) without a prior adult conviction (67%)
  • A total of 2,039 suspects were prosecuted for Federal sex offenses, representing about 2.5% of the 83,148 suspects prosecuted in Federal courts.
  • The main sex exploitation offense referred to U.S. attorneys shifted from sex abuse (73%) in 1994 to child pornography (69%) in 2006.
  • Convicted sex offenders sentenced to prison increased from 81% in 1996 to 96% in 2006.

Federal criminal convictions have been rising steadily over the past several years, as the Federal Courts have gained additional responsibilities and jurisdiction over more crimes.  These criminal convictions would not be found while searching regular county and/or state records.  Interested in strengthening your company’s criminal records search program to include Federal crimes?  Contact BackTrack at 800-991-9694 for more information.