skip navigation

PUBLICATIONS

Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.

 

NCJ Number: 51773 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: U S ATTORNEYS DO NOT PROSECUTE MANY SUSPECTED VIOLATORS OF FEDERAL LAWS
Author(s): ANON
Corporate Author: US Comptroller General
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 47
Sponsoring Agency: National Technical Information Service
Springfield, VA 22151
US Comptroller General
Washington, DC 20548
Sale Source: National Technical Information Service
US Dept of Commerce
5285 Port Royal Road
Springfield, VA 22151
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: EXCESSIVE WORKLOADS, INSUFFICIENT STAFF, AND THE UNWARRANTED COST OF PROSECUTION HAVE CAUSED MANY UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS TO DECLINE TO PROSECUTE IN A LARGE NUMBER OF CRIMINAL COMPLAINTS.
Abstract: UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS DECLINED TO PROSECUTE 731,000 OR 62 PERCENT OF THE 1,180,00 CRIMINAL COMPLAINTS ELIGIBLE FOR PROSECUTION DURING FISCAL YEARS 1970 THROUGH 1976. ALTHOUGH MANY COMPLAINTS WERE NOT PROSECUTED BECAUSE OF LEGAL DEFICIENCIES SUCH AS LACK OF EVIDENCE, AT LEAST 22 PERCENT OF THE CASES WERE PROSECUTABLE. AN ADDITIONAL 28 PERCENT OF THE COMPLAINTS MAY HAVE BEEN FEDERALLY PROSECUTABLE BUT WERE REFERRED TO LOCAL AUTHORITIES OR TO ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCIES DURING THE YEARS 1975 AND 1976 IN FOUR DISTRICTS REVIEWED. MOST OF THE COMPLAINTS THAT WERE NOT PROSECUTED IN FEDERAL COURTS FREQUENTLY MEANT THAT THE SUSPECTS WOULD NOT BE PROSECUTED FOR THE CRIMES. THE DEVELOPMENT OF INDIVIDUAL PRIORITIES AND GUIDELINES FOR PROSECUTORIAL DISCRETION BY EACH OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS HAS CREATED UNDESIRABLE VARIANCE IN THE ENFORCEMENT OF FEDERAL CRIMINAL STATUTES. WHETHER A SUSPECT IS PROSECUTED FOR A FEDERAL OFFENSE MAY DEPEND MORE ON THE LOCALITY HANDLING THE CASE, THAN ON FACTORS INVOLVING THE CASE ITSELF. THE FULL EXTENT OF VARIANCE BETWEEN DISTRICTS IS UNKNOWN BECAUSE THE ATTORNEYS' SEPARATE GUIDELINES ARE NOT REPORTED FULLY TO THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. ALTHOUGH SEVERAL ATTORNEYS CONSIDERED THE COMPLETE UNIFORMITY OF PROSECUTION TO BE IMPRACTICAL, MOST OF THE OFFICIALS AGREED THAT SUCH UNIFORMITY IS DESIRABLE FROM A LEGAL STANDPOINT. PROBLEMS WHICH DETER STANDARDIZATION INCLUDE VARIATIONS IN COMMUNITY VALUES AND IN LOCAL EVIDENTIAL REQUIREMENTS. DIFFERENT CRIME PROBLEMS IN DIFFERENT REGIONS ALSO ENCOURAGE VARIANCES IN EMPHASIS BY PROSECUTORS. SEVERAL FEDERAL AGENCIES, INCLUDING THE CUSTOMS BUREAU AND THE CONSUMER PRODUCTS SAFETY COMMISSION, HAVE REPORTED DIFFICULTY IN OBTAINING PROSECUTIONS FOR CASES PRESENTED TO THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS. IT IS SUGGESTED THAT SUCH AGENCIES BE GRANTED CIVIL FINE AUTHORITY TO MAKE THEIR OWN PROSECUTIONS THROUGH ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES. IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT CRIMINAL PROSECUTION BE DEFERRED FOR SUSPECTS WHO QUALIFY FOR PRETRIAL DIVERSION PROGRAMS. A COMPREHENSIVE PROSECUTORIAL POLICY SHOULD BE DEVELOPED ALSO. APPENDED MATERIAL INCLUDES STATEMENTS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE CONCURRING WITH THE REPORT OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE. (TWK)
Index Term(s): Federal law enforcement agencies; Prosecutorial discretion; Prosecutorial diversion; Prosecutorial screening; Prosecutors; Surveys
Note: REPORT TO THE CONGRESS BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=51773

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.