The U.S. Sentencing Commission on Monday said the number of federal criminal cases dropped by more than 15% in 2020 compared with the prior year, a sign of the COVID-19 pandemic’s outsized effect on federal criminal proceedings.
Among the federal criminal cases in which a defendant was sentenced in fiscal year 2020, the Sentencing Commission said the 64,565 individual cases for last year represent a 15.6% decrease from the 76,538 offenders reported in fiscal year 2019.
“The number of cases reported to the commission in fiscal year 2020 reflects the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the work of the courts,” the commission said in a report.
As in recent years, immigration offenses dominated the federal criminal caseload last year with 26,561 immigration actions, representing 41.1% of all federal criminal cases that made it to sentencing in 2020. Despite the outsized impact, the number of immigration cases actually declined from 29,354 cases reported to the commission in fiscal year 2019, a 9.5% drop.
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