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Pretrial Services - Judicial Business 2016

The number of cases opened in the pretrial services system, including pretrial diversion cases, equaled 91,709, a decrease of 3 percent from 2015.

In 38 percent of the cases opened, the major offense was related to immigration, down from 40 percent in 2015. Cases in which the major offense charged involved drugs accounted for 27 percent of pretrial services cases (the same as last year). Also unchanged were the proportions of cases associated with property offenses (12 percent) and cases dealing with firearms offenses (8 percent).

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 2016, officers prepared 88,248 pretrial services reports (down 3 percent). Ninety-seven percent of the reports were pre-bail reports.

Table 9
Summary of Pretrial Services Cases
Fiscal Years 2012 - 2016
  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Percent Change
2015 - 2016
Total Cases Activated 109,242 108,705 100,068 95,013 91,709 -3.5
Pretrial Services Cases 108,273 108,002 99,355 94,276 91,111 -3.4
Pretrial Diversion Cases 969 703 713 737 598 -18.9
Total Released on Supervision 29,195 28,664 25,209 24,547 23,592 -3.9
Pretrial Supervision 27,829 27,612 24,185 23,522 22,735 -3.3
Diversion Supervision 1,366 1,052 1,024 1,025 857 -16.4
Type of Report            
Pre-Bail 102,152 101,709 93,598 88,980 85,988 -3.4
Other Reports (Including Post-Bail) 2,913 2,853 2,552 2,390 2,260 -5.4
No Report 3,208 3,440 3,205 2,906 2,863 -1.5

A total of 83,857 bail determinations were made by the courts. Including immigration cases involving crimes such as illegal reentry, 27 percent of all defendants were released on bail. When immigration cases are excluded, the percentage of defendants released was 41 percent.

A total of 23,592 defendants were received for supervision by pretrial services (down 4 percent). The proportion of defendants in the country illegally 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 2016, 44 percent of defendants in pretrial services cases were illegal aliens.

For persons under pretrial services supervision, officers monitor compliance with the release conditions set by the courts, provide necessary support services (such as substance abuse treatment and location monitoring), and inform the courts and U.S. attorneys of apparent violations of release conditions. A total of 25,790 defendants were released with specified conditions in 2016. The release condition ordered most often was pretrial services supervision, which was imposed on 89 percent of defendants released, the same as last year.

Substance abuse treatment and testing were ordered for 39 percent of defendants (up 1 percent). Substance abuse testing alone (without treatment) was ordered for 14 percent of defendants, down 1 percent from the previous year.

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 2016, the number of pretrial diversion cases activated decreased 19 percent to 598 and accounted for less than 1 percent of activated cases.

Over the past five years, the number of pretrial services reports prepared has fallen 16 percent, and the number of persons interviewed has decreased 13 percent to 50,588 (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.