Overview of Federal Criminal Cases, Fiscal Year 2009


FY 2009 Overview of Federal Criminal CasesThe United States Sentencing Commission received information on 81,549 new federal criminal cases in which the offender was sentenced in fiscal year 2009. Among these cases, 81,372 involved an individual defendant and 177 involved a corporation or other “organizational” defendant. This publication provides a brief overview of those cases.

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Key Findings

A review of offenders sentenced in fiscal year 2009 reveal the following:

  • The vast majority of the cases reported to the Commission involve an individual defendant. Over the last decade, the number of these cases has increased every year except one. In fiscal year 2009, the increase was 6.4 percent over the number of such cases in fiscal year 2008.

  • The number of drug offenses has remained relatively constant for the last five years, although the portion of the criminal caseload attributable to those cases decreased to 30.3 percent in fiscal year 2009 compared with 34.7 percent in fiscal year 2004.

  • More than half of the federal offenders sentenced in fiscal year 2009 (50.8%) had not completed high school and only 5.4 percent of offenders had completed college.

  • The average age of offenders in fiscal year 2009 was 35 years; this average has remained relatively unchanged for more than 15 years.

  • Most federal offenders convicted of a felony or Class A misdemeanor receive a sentence of incarceration. In fiscal year 2009, only 7.3 percent of offenders received a sentence of probation (i.e., where no type of confinement was imposed), a rate that has decreased steadily from a high of 13.1 percent in 1997.

  • Virtually all offenders who were sentenced to imprisonment also were sentenced to serve a period of supervised release following the completion of their confinement. In fiscal year 2009, more than 95 percent of offenders sentenced to incarceration also were sentenced to serve a period of supervised release.