“But you know what we don’t see? Prosecutions.”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr.TinDC

From Denise Krepp, ANC6B10 Commissioner:

“Crime is skyrocketing on Capitol Hill. Every morning we wake up to new police alerts regarding the thefts, assaults, and muggings that occurred the night before. Every day our iPhones ping with updates on the brazen robberies in neighborhoods across the city.

But you know what we don’t see? Prosecutions. The Department of Justice is responsible for prosecuting crimes in Washington, DC and they aren’t doing it. The prosecution rate for misdemeanors is 38%.

The Department of Justice will be at the Tuesday crime meeting hosted by Councilmember Charles Allen. The October 27th meeting is from 7-8:30pm at the Friendship Chamberlain Public Charter School (1345 Potomac Ave SE).

I encourage all of you to ask them the following questions about the crime and prosecution rates on Capitol Hill:

How many crimes have occurred on Capitol Hill in the past 2 years? Please provide specific information about each type – theft, assault, burglary, car-jacking, stabbing, rape, etc.
How many of these crimes have been prosecuted? Again, please break down this information by criminal act.
How many of the crimes have been resolved via plea deals? Please break down this information by criminal act.
Have many crimes have yet to be resolved?

In addition, you should ask them about their relationship with MPD.

MPD has a new records management system called COBALT. This is a different system than the one used by DOJ.

Why do MPD and DOJ use two different systems?
Why can’t these systems be integrated?
If they can’t be integrated, why can’t MPD have access to the DOJ system so that they know (a) when suspects are being prosecuted and (b) the outcome of the prosecutions.

Lastly, ask DOJ about the role the victim plays in prosecutions:

How does DOJ take into consideration what happened to the victim when deciding whether or not to prosecute the case?
How often does DOJ brief the victim during the prosecution?
Does DOJ consult with the victim during plea agreement negotiations? If so, how much weight is given to the victim’s recommendations?”

39 Comment

  • prosecution rate for misdemeanors is 38%, but most of the crimes listed in Ms. Krepp’s questionnaire are felonies. What’s the prosecution rate for felonies? I honestly don’t know, but it’s disingenuous to conflate misdemeanors and felonies to show willingness to prosecute. How many offenses are charged at a reduced misdemeanor level rather than felony strictly for reporting purposes, as there’s pressure on police districts to downplay charges to demonstrate crime reduction trends?

  • The question of whether to prosecute is at times a difficult one, and maybe DC isn’t prosecuting enough – I don’t know and details would be interested. But with that said, why should the desires of the victim be part of the calculus in deciding whether to prosecute? That seems most likely to lead to a set of arbitrary results. If a victim is more outspoken or personally upset by the crime, then he or she can tip the scales? Or if the victim is more likely to accept it as “part of life in the city” and tolerates crime more readily, then the criminal should get a lighter punishment? This is the very opposite of what I would want as a policy. I would hope to have a justice system that takes the same approach to resolving a criminal incident no matter the status or personal background and attitude of the victim.

  • Its not just Capitol Hill. Try living in Ward 4. I don’t think we see enough arrests as it is… Let alone prosecutions. Criminals aren’t afraid. They know they’ll generally never be caught and, if so, likely won’t be convicted.

  • After my house was burglarized in July, communication with the police and US attorneys office has been pretty awful. I have literally no idea what’s happening, except the fact that someone has been identified. The links and phone numbers on the USDOJ website for criminal prosecutions in DC also do not appear to work.

  • yet the US attorneys office has no problem prosecuting the smallest of non violent drug crimes. I was recently selected for a jury that prosecuted three people for the tiniest – and i meant tiniest- quantity of heroin. 2 Us attorneys, 13 Jurors, 3 public defenders, and a judge all got to waste 4-5 days on something that probably had minimal penalties and absolutely no victims. I understand the law is the law but if they choose to prosecute some cases over others and violent crime cases are being plead down so there is little punishment then why wouldn’t criminals feel emboldened?

    • I spent almost a week on jury hearing a $10 marijuana sale case.
      On the other hand, there are tons of posts complaining about open air drug dealing. Prosecuting small sales may be the only way to get these markets shut down.

      • good point. However, as a layman I would think it would be best to prioritize cases that involve violence. This one example doesn’t mean they don’t prosecute drug crimes including violence but i was surprised at how many resources were committed to something so very minor. Resources I assume to be finite.

  • +1000. My wife and I started tracking gun possession arrests and times suspects are held without release in/around our area of Petworth. It is a felony in DC to carry an unlicensed firearm, punishable with up to 1 year in jail. In 40% of the cases we have tracked, suspects that were arrested with a firearm were released within a few days with conditions (basically bond in DC). This to me is unacceptable. Carrying a gun in DC is a crime, and until it isn’t, if you are found in possession of one you should go to jail. It doesn’t matter how good MPD is, if cut and dry crimes aren’t prosecuted, there is no chance this crime wave is going to stop.

    People who carry guns commit robbery and shootings. I am 100% for non-violent crime diversions, however, I have no patience for violent crime.

    BTW this is all done with public records, when you get a crime alert that someone was caught, you can look at the arrest report the next day and figure out very quickly who did what. You can track them through the system from there.

    • Please understand that you have to be convicted of a crime to go to jail. That people are released pre-trial does not mean they are not going to get prosecuted. I think maybe what you are saying is that you don’t think that people arrested in possession of an unlicensed firearm should be released pending a court date?

  • Actually, the office of the attorney general prosecutes all misdemeanors in the District. DOJ prosecutes felonies.
    My personal expirence with OAG prosecutors is that they are vastly underfunded and overworked, with each attorney responsible for hundreds of cases per year. Clearly many of these fall through the cracks. THE MAYOR is responsible for the OAG’s budget, and thus the backlog and failures.

    • No, OAG only prosecutes some misdemeanors, not all. You can check out the OAG Criminal Division web page to find out what falls under their jurisdiction. In addition, they prosecute all crimes against juveniles, unless the juvenile is charged as an adult, which is pretty infrequent in DC.

    • Your statement is not correct. OAG does not prosecute all misdemeanors, nor does USAO prosecute all felonies. OAG only prosecutes a subset of misdemeanors, while USAO handles many others (theft II, destruction of property, etc). While USAO handles many serious crimes, the OAG juvenile section handles most juvenile offenses, including many felonies.

  • A package thief was caught at my house a few weeks ago. Took him to jail and booked him.

    Observations: The Asst US Attorneys are overworked. Their office kept in contact with me and gave me the information for the arraignment hearing if I chose to attend. The DC court website is up to date with the name, case, courtroom and time of hearing.

    The day I went to the court: The US Attorneys handled about 30 cases, each prepared with its own folder. The defendants (all but 2) were represented by provided government lawyers. All of the defendants that day plead not guilty. The judge looked at each of their situations. Some of the defendants needed translators and were provided translators. Further court dates were set on the spot. Defendants had to follow up with the court about their current address and get drug tested. About 2-3 didn’t show up and were issued bench warrants and $50,000 bail.

    As far as I could tell, I was the only so-called ‘victim’ in the courtroom. I had a question and asked on of the Asst US Attorneys afterward. I also thanked him for his work. He seemed appreciative for the kudos.

    Advice: Go to the courtroom.
    Go and talk to and thank the people who are representing your case.

    • Ally

      +1 I was on a grand jury and the ADAs work their tails off. I’m not disagreeing with Denise Krepp (and am appreciative of all she’s doing for our neighborhood), but it’ll be interesting to see the explanation from the courts/prosecutors for the statistics.

  • It’s really hard to know what’s happening in these cases especially because the police don’t often include suspects’ names when releasing PR about arrests. I found found “props to the cops” and other arrest posts on PoPVille that included a suspect’s name and found the following dispositions on dccourts dot gov.
    Arrested: The Metropolitan Police Department has announced the arrest of an officer on pandering charges. On Tuesday, December 10, 2013, the Youth Investigations Division obtained an arrest warrant for Officer Linwood Barnhill, Jr. charging him with two counts of Pandering of a Minor. On Wednesday, December 11, 2013 he was arrested in Southeast, DC by members of the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force.
    RESULT: Charges dropped
    Arrested: On Thursday, August 29, 2013, a DC Superior Court search warrant was executed at the 12 Volt Electronics store in the 300 block of H Street NW. The warrant was the culmination of a six month investigation by detectives of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Fifth District Detective Unit along with detectives from the Metro Transit Police. During the execution of the warrant, more than 500 items were seized that detectives believed to be stolen. The items seized include iPhones, iPads, laptops, computers, Kindles, cell phones, bicycles, tools, musical instruments, gaming systems, and other electronics. On Monday, October 7, 2013, at approximately 10:45 am, Fifth District detectives and the US Marshals arrested 49-year-old David Brown of Capitol Heights Maryland and charged him with Felony Trafficking of Stolen goods.
    RESULT: Case dismissed
    On Monday, October 14, 2013, at approximately 12:49 pm, an unarmed carjacking occurred in the 2000 block of 10th Street, NW. A suspect got into the driver’s seat of a victim’s vehicle and drove away. A look-out was provided, and a short time later, members of the First District observed the vehicle being involved in a traffic accident in the 1300 block of A Street SE. The suspect fled from the vehicle on foot. However, the First District officers quick action resulted in the apprehension of the suspect.
    RESULT: 32 months in prison
    Props: Metropolitan Police Detectives John Hamer and Detective Jose Morales worked tirelessly following up on leads in open criminal investigations that James Davis was suspected in. These Detectives were were able to establish a direct nexus and probable cause in a number of Armed Robbery cases and charged Davis in all of those criminal investigations.
    As a result, James Davis was charged in the following Armed Robberies
    · August 6, 2013, Armed Robbery of the New Hampshire Pharmacy at 5001 New Hampshire Ave NW WDC – 4D
    · August 8, 2013, Armed Robbery of a Post Office in Hyattsville MD
    · August 9, 2013 Armed Robbery of the Newton Food Mart at 3600 12th Street NE WDC – 5D
    · August 13, 2013 Armed Robbery of the Upshur Grocery at 233 Upshur St NW WDC – 4D
    · September 16, 2013 Armed Robbery of the Flagler Market at 2220 Flagler Pl NW WDC – 5D
    RESULT: Dismissed by the court for failing to indict within the timeframe. He’s apparently imprisoned in another jurisdiction on another crime.
    Props: Gunshot murder of Anthony Sanchez on 7/13/2013
    RESULT: plea involuntary manslaughter, sentenced to 4 years in prison with credit for time served
    Props: In the past month, members of the Second District along with several community members have worked together in an attempt to identify and arrest a suspect who has been seen in the area of Lafayette Elementary School who has been involved in several indecent exposure incidents.
    RESULT: 90 days in prison
    Props: On Thursday, October 17, 2013, at approximately 4:00am, a male subject was assaulted and robbed in the 800 block of 1st Street NE. As a result of their investigation, on Thursday, October 31, 2013, detectives from the First District arrested 20-year-old Shabazz Thompson, of Washington, DC and charged him with Robbery Force and Violence. An additional person of interest is still being sought as the investigation continues.”
    NBC Washington reported that this was a “brutal beating of a CNN producer who was jumped while walking to work two weeks ago.”
    RESULT: 60 months in prison
    Props: On Sunday, February 2, 2014, at approximately 2:15 am, officers responded for the report of an assault. Further investigation revealed that an altercation took place inside of the establishment where an adult male was struck with a bottle. The suspect fled the scene and engaged in a second altercation in the 1100 block of 7th St SE where he assaulted a second adult male with a sharp item. The suspect then fled the scene. Both victims received treatment at local hospitals for their injuries.
    RESULT: Currently out on bond pending jury trial results
    Props: On Sunday, October 27, 2013, at approximately 4:15 am, members of the Second District received a call for the report of an assault in the 2000 block of S Street, Northwest. Upon their arrival, Second District members located an adult male lying unconscious on the sidewalk. Personnel from DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services transported him to a local hospital where he was admitted and remains hospitalized. On Friday, November 1, 2013, 38-year-old James Brown of Southeast, DC, was charged with Aggravated Assault, pursuant to a District of Columbia Superior Court Arrest Warrant in connection with this offense.
    RESULT: Jury found not guilty
    Props: On Tuesday, July 28 at around 8:20 PM while in the 800 block of Upshur Street, NW, the victim was approached by a subject that snatched her purse and fled the scene. The subject was stopped by police and he was positively identified as the subject that robbed the victim. The subject was identified as 33 year-old Floyd Carter of no fixed address
    RESULT: Charges dismissed
    Props: Members from the Metropolitan Police Departments Second District Detectives Unit have announced that on Wednesday, April 22, 2015, at approximately 4:00 pm, 23 year-old Jahmar Thaxter of Northeast, Washington, DC was arrested and charged with nineteen (19) counts of Theft II from Auto.”
    RESULT: Currently on pre-trial release, during which time he has been picked up again for dealing drugs, a charge that was dropped when the police officer didn’t show up in court
    Props: 18 year-old Dekirra Timmons, of Northeast, was arrested and charged in connection with following three Carjacking’s:
    · 15-020-644 Carjacking 1900 9th St NE 2-10-15 5D
    · 15-020-645 Carjacking Unit Blk FL Ave NE 2-10-15 5D
    · 15-021-485 Carjacking 900 FL Ave NW 2-12-15 3D”
    RESULT: Currently on pre-trial release
    Props: Detectives from The Metropolitan Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division have announced an arrest has been made in connection to an Assault with a Dangerous Weapon (Gun.)
    On Friday, January 9, 2015 at approximately 10:10 pm, a victim of an assault exited a building located in the 200 block of N Street, NW, and fired several shots at subjects with no rounds taking effect, but striking a parked vehicle.
    RESULT: One year in prison including time served

    • I don’t know about the rest, but Linwood Barnhill pleaded guilty and is currently serving a seven year sentence at Coleman Low FCI.

      • hmm, according to the dc courts website, case 2013 CF3 021684 was dismissed. there may be another case that I didn’t see.

        • Yeah, I don’t understand what happened to his records on dccourts, but if you go to the Bureau of Prisons inmate locator he’s prisoner number 33401-016. It jumped out at me because I remembered the coverage of his guilty plea last year.

  • The MPD actually caught a burglar that we reported entering our basement apartment while we were home. however, the prosecution was completely disorganized and unprepared. Each day I missed of work, as a subpoena’d witness, was spent sitting in court watching unprepared prosecutors pick up cases they had never seen before and try to plea them off. Almost every robbery, gun or drug crime we saw was lowered to attempted and then the criminals walked. In my case, the court appointed attorney just asked for continuances over and over until MPD lost the finger print and other evidence. The case was then dismissed – so even if it’s prosecuted in DC, they are doing an awful job. When we catch burglars entering occupied home and can’t even get a trespass conviction, we are all pretty much victims of severe incompetence in this system.

  • These are great questions. But I would have been more impressed if this Commissioner had said: “I’ve written a letter to the DOJ reps who will be at the meeting and asked them to answer these questions,” as opposed to expecting attendees to ask all of these things.

  • Isn’t the zeal for aggressive prosecution how we ended up with the “national crisis of mass incarceration”? Most of the studies show the rise in incarceration has been drive by DA’s prosecuting a higher share of cases. The low hanging fruit of true “non-violent drug felons” are a pretty small share of the national prison population.

    Not saying it is good or bad. It is a perfectly natural desire to deal aggressively with those who are terrorizing the community. But, how do we balance that while also trying to end “mass incarceration”?

  • I’m less concerned with cases that go to trial than knowing what % are pled? For many pled cases there must be overwhelming evidence for defendants to own up to something for a more lenient charge and/or sentence.

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