Overview of Federal Criminal Cases, Fiscal Year 2012


FY 2012 Overview of Federal Criminal CasesThe United States Sentencing Commission received information on 84,360 federal criminal cases in which the offender was sentenced in fiscal year 2012. Among these cases, 84,173 involved an individual offender and 187 involved a corporation or other “organizational” offender. This publication provides a brief overview of those cases.

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Key Findings

A review of cases reported to the Commission in fiscal year 2012 reveal the following:

  • The vast majority of federal cases involve an individual defendant. Over the last decade, the number of these cases has generally increased each year; however, in fiscal year 2012 the number of cases reported to the Commission fell by 2,028. This represents a decrease of 2.4 percent from fiscal year 2011.

  • For the last four years, immigration cases have been the largest single type of federal offenses. This trend continued in fiscal year 2012, where immigration cases accounted for 32.2 percent of all federal cases.

  • The number of drug cases has been relatively stable over the last five fiscal years. In fiscal year 2012, drug cases accounted for 30.2 percent of all cases.

  • The average age of offenders in fiscal year 2012 was 36 years old, representing a gradual increase over the past decade (34 years old in fiscal year 2003 and 35 years old in fiscal year 2008).

  • The vast majority of convicted defendants plead guilty. In fiscal year 2012, 97.0 percent of all offenders did so, the highest rate since fiscal year 2002.

  • Most federal offenders convicted of a felony or Class A misdemeanor received a sentence of incarceration. In fiscal year 2012, 7.1 percent of offenders received a sentence of probation (i.e., where no type of confinement was imposed), a rate that over time has decreased from a high of 14.8 percent in 1993.