DC Prosecutor Oversaw Massive Drop In Felony Convictions While Violent Crime Ravaged City

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Robert Schmad Contributor
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The United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the District of Columbia oversaw a significant decline in felony convictions as violent crime has run rampant in Washington, D.C.

The Metropolitan Police Department made 538 narcotic arrests in D.C. during 2023, but courts only convicted people of 69 drug felony counts that year. Moreover, the total number of felony convictions in the district was roughly 36% below the pre-pandemic average, according to the D.C. Sentencing Commission’s 2023 annual report released on April 26. The figures are in spite of the fact that D.C. saw a massive surge in violent crime in 2023, with a 35% increase in homicides and a 67% increase in robberies from 2022.

Matthew Graves, the D.C. U.S. Attorney, is responsible for enforcing both federal and local laws in the district. His office expended significant resources prosecuting hundreds of individuals accused of storming the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, records show.

The D.C. USAO only secured 567 violent felony convictions in 2023. The office in a January 2024 press release touted having secured prison sentences for 476 Jan. 6 defendants.

Between 2014 and 2019, courts handed felony convictions to an average of 1,580 people a year in the nation’s capital, according to the D.C. Sentencing Commission report. Only 1,007 criminals were sentenced for felonies in 2023, representing more than a 36% decrease from pre-pandemic levels and a 12% decline from the year prior, despite violent crime increasing significantly.

The drop-off among drug convictions has been particularly severe, according to the report. Before the pandemic, courts convicted an average of 415 felony drug counts in D.C. per year, with 2023’s 69 convictions representing a 83% drop from the pre-pandemic average.

The D.C. USAO maintains a searchable database containing all the individuals charged in connection with crimes at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. The database has over 1,200 entries and includes a catalog of the various penalties those convicted of Jan. 6-related crimes have been handed, including years in prison, fines, probation and house arrest. (RELATED: Feds Forced To Send Reinforcements To America’s Capital As Rising Crime Devastates City)

Four individuals are seen fleeing a murder scene on surveillance video in Washington, D.C. (Screenshot/Fox 5 DC)

Four individuals are seen fleeing a murder scene on surveillance video in Washington, D.C. (Screenshot/Fox 5 DC)

Meanwhile, fewer than 10% of adults arrested for carrying illegal guns in D.C. during 2023 were convicted of felonies, per the D.C. Sentencing Commission’s report.

One-third of people arrested for illegal gun possession weren’t prosecuted in 2023, close to a quarter of those charged had their cases closed without a conviction and a slim majority of those convicted were handed misdemeanors rather than felonies, according to the report.

Graves, by virtue of being the top prosecutor in D.C., has the power to pursue felony convictions instead of offering plea deals as well as the authority to formally charge a grater proportion of individuals arrested for allegedly committing crimes.

While still below pre-pandemic levels, courts issued 4% more violent felony convictions in D.C. during 2023 than in 2022, per the D.C. Sentencing Commission report. This modest increase in convictions, however, was paired with a 39% increase in violent crimes in D.C. between 2022 and 2023.

The D.C. USAO allows many criminals charged with serious crimes to plead down to a lesser charge, with 92% of felony cases in the district being resolved through plea deals during 2023, a decline from 2022 but about level with pre-pandemic rates, according to the D.C. Sentencing Commission report.

The D.C. USAO did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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