For the past five years, the number of federal prosecutions across the U.S. has declined. In fact, according to statistics from the Pew Research Center, the number of prosecutions dropped by 25 percent between 2011 and 2016. Last year, there were the fewest number of criminal prosecutions in roughly 30 years.
However, this could all be changing in the years ahead, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions who evidently plans to renew efforts to prosecute violent offenders. This marks a shift from the previous administration and traditional efforts to prosecute violent offenses at the state level.
What this means is that if you are accused of a violent offense, including gun crimes and assault, you could be more likely to face federal charges and penalties in the coming years.
On the other hand, you may be less likely to face federal charges for immigration, property and drug offenses. Even though these are the most common types of crimes prosecuted by the federal government, the rate for each one has declined by at least 23 percent in the last five years due, in part, to shifts in federal government priorities.
It is also important to note that immigration and drug laws are changing rapidly, which also affects prosecution efforts.
There are a couple important points we encourage readers to take away from these statistics. First, while prosecutions may have been down over the last five years, we do not know what will happen in the next five years. It would be a mistake to assume that you won’t face federal prosecution based solely on statistics.
Secondly, remember that you can still face charges at the state level for most offenses. While the state court system and penalties may not be as severe and complex as the federal system and penalties, they are still very aggressive.
With all this in mind, we remind you to take criminal charges very seriously, whether they are state or federal charges. Protect yourself, your freedom and your future by knowing your rights and consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney.