San Francisco Federal Felony Filings Drop

San Francisco, San Jose & Oakland Federal Dockets Smaller, Consumed By Undocumented Alien And Gun Cases; Few White Collar for April 2007.

a. Northern District of California – The Big Picture.

The latest numbers from Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University (released August 27 for the period ending April 30, 2007) show:

  • 437 new cases filed in the ND CA for the first seven months of the fiscal year, a 16.4% drop from 2006, putting the government on track for 150 fewer annual filings in 2007 than 2006;
  • Among the 7 super-districts whose filings fell in the same period, the ND CA ranked in the middle, with the third greatest percentage drop;
  • Among California’s three super-districts, the ND CA was again in the middle, with the CD CA down 20.9% and the ED CA down 12.4%;
  • Five super-districts are on track for more filings (with ED MI and ND TX looking at gains of 5% or more); and
  • ND CA criminal filings are down 26.1% from five years ago ––however, exclude misdemeanor filings before U.S. Magistrate Judges, and the numbers are down 40.7% from five years ago.

b. Federal Criminal Cases in San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland by Program Area.

For April 2007, the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed 72 new cases, down 20% from March and down 13.4% from one year ago, as follows:

FEDERAL PROGRAM CATEGORY

PERCENTAGE

OF FILINGS

Immigration (undocumented alien/other)

36.1%

Federal firearms and ammunition-Operation Triggerlock

11.1%

Crime on Gov’t. Reservation

5.6%

Fraud – Federal Program

4.2%

Fraud – Financial Institution

4.2%

Crimes Against Gov’t. Property

4.2%

Other Regulatory Offenses

4.2%

Child Pornography

4.2%

Identity Theft

4.2%

Violent Crime (other)

4.2%

Bank Robbery

2.8%

Counterfeiting/Forgery

2.8%

Other

6.9%

With slightly more than 47% of case filings devoted to immigration matters and firearms, the focus is plainly on cases easier to charge and on defendants more likely to plead guilty or be convicted.

Identifying the percentage of white collar filings is not a certain exercise (crimes on a government reservation may be violent or not). This one month snapshot identifies only about 20% of the cases as certain white collar matters (Fraud in Federal Program and Financial Institutions; Other Regulatory Offenses; Identity Theft, and Counterfeiting/Forgery).

c. Comment

Those under federal criminal investigation in San Francisco, San Jose or Oakland may take heart that the above numbers show this is not a District that files regardless of the evidence.

If the best result from being investigated is that no charges (or the least serious charges) are filed, then an important part of selecting federal criminal defense counsel is finding an attorney able to spot weaknesses in an investigation, and demonstrate to prosecutors the investigation should be quietly closed.