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Pretrial Services

The number of cases opened in the pretrial services system, including pretrial diversion cases, equaled 109,242, a 4 percent decrease from 2011.

In 40 percent of cases opened, the major offense was related to immigration, up from 39 percent in 2011. Cases in which the major offense charged involved drugs accounted for 28 percent of pretrial services cases, down from 29 percent in 2011. Cases associated with property offenses represented 13 percent of pretrial services cases opened this year, the same as last year. Cases dealing with firearms offenses represented 8 percent of pretrial services cases opened in 2012, up from 7 percent in 2011.

Table 9
Summary of Pretrial Services Cases
Fiscal Years 2008 - 2012
  2008 20091 2010 2011 2012 Percent Change
2011 - 2012
Total Cases Activated
99,670 105,362 111,507 113,875 109,242 -4.1
Pretrial Services Cases 98,244 104,248 110,547 112,969 108,273 -4.2
Pretrial Diversion Cases 1,426 1,078 960 906 969 7.0
Total Released on Supervision 31,951 29,624 29,902 30,337 29,195 -3.8
Pretrial Supervision 30,653 28,427 28,632 29,004 27,829 -4.1
Diversion Supervision 1,298 1,197 1,270 1,333 1,366 2.5
Type of Report
Pre-Bail 90,991 95,747 101,294 106,727 102,152 -4.3
Other Reports (Including Post-Bail) 4,672 5,240 5,962 3,233 2,913 -9.9
No Report 2,581 3,261 3,291 3,009 3,208 6.6
1 Revised.

Pretrial services officers prepare reports for judges to use in determining whether to order the release or detention of defendants. The reports also give judges information useful for establishing appropriate conditions for released defendants. In 2012, officers prepared 105,065 pretrial services reports, a reduction of 4 percent from the previous year. Ninety-seven percent of the reports were pre-bail reports.

A total of 99,426 bail determinations were made by the courts. Including immigration cases involving crimes such as illegal reentry, 28 percent of all defendants were released on bail. When immigration cases are excluded, the percentage of defendants released was 43 percent.

A total of 29,195 defendants were received for supervision by pretrial services, a decrease of 4 percent from the previous year. The proportion of defendants who were illegal aliens continued to affect the number of persons received for supervision because illegal aliens and defendants charged with immigration offenses are more likely to be detained given their higher risk of failure to appear in court. In 2012, 45 percent of defendants in pretrial services cases were illegal aliens, the same as in 2011.

For persons under pretrial services supervision, officers monitored compliance with the release conditions set by the courts, provided necessary support services (such as substance abuse treatment and location monitoring), and informed the courts and U.S. attorneys of apparent violations of release conditions. A total of 31,307 defendants were released with specified conditions. The release condition ordered most often was pretrial services supervision, which was imposed on 90 percent of defendants released, up from 89 percent in 2011. Substance abuse treatment and testing were ordered for 37 percent of defendants, and substance abuse testing alone (without treatment) was ordered for 15 percent of defendants. Both percentages were the same in 2011.

Pretrial diversion is a period of supervision proposed by a U.S. attorney and agreed to by a defendant as an alternative to the prosecution of criminal charges in federal court. Diversion preserves prosecutorial and judicial resources for more serious criminal matters. In 2012, the number of pretrial diversion cases activated increased 7 percent to 969 and accounted for 1 percent of activated cases.

From 2008 to 2012, cases opened in the pretrial services system rose 10 percent (up by 10,029 cases). Most of the growth can be attributed to the increase in immigration offense cases along the southwestern border of the United States during that period.

Over the past five years, the number of pretrial services reports prepared also has risen 10 percent, even though the number of persons interviewed has decreased 9 percent to 58,399 (not all defendants are interviewed—defendants may decline to be interviewed, and sometimes interviews are not possible—but for each defendant, a pretrial services report is usually written).

For data on pretrial services activity, see Table 9 and the H series of tables.