State’s Attorney’s Office Releases 10 Years of Conviction Data

SAO Conviction Data

State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has always been clear that her prosecutors will place justice over convictions. Nonetheless, a number of recent inaccurate statements on the office’s conviction rate need to be clarified.

The SAO calculates its conviction rate in line with the best practices of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA). According to the APA:

“A conviction is a legal declaration that someone is guilty of a criminal offense, made by the verdict of a jury or the decision of a judge in a court of law. Conviction rate, just like any other completion percentage, is calculated by dividing the number of convictions by the number of overall adjudicated cases.

This means that the conviction rate is not based on number of charges (prosecutors are not responsible for the number of arrests made or the charges that police file). It also does not factor in closed cases because sometimes cases are passed onto another jurisdiction e.g. (the federal government) and while the case is not technically “closed”, it is no longer under the jurisdiction of the SAO.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Mosby sends letter to lawmakers releasing conviction data. Click here to read the letter.

Consistency over the last 10 years

There is no doubt that the last five years have been tumultuous for our city – the killing of Freddie Gray and the uprising, the consent decree, police scandals, five police commissioners, and three mayors. In spite of this, our office’s overall conviction rate is consistent with SA Mosby’s two predecessors.

The bars are represented on the first Y-axis, the line is represented on the second Y-Axis
The bars are represented on the first Y-axis, the line is represented on the second Y-Axis

Highlights

  • Despite some fluctuations, and challenging circumstances, the SAO homicide conviction rate has remained steady.
  • The Stet and Nol Pros numbers have remained consistent over a 10 year period.
The bars are represented on the first Y-axis, the line is represented on the second Y-Axis
The bars are represented on the first Y-axis, the line is represented on the second Y-Axis

Highlights

  • The conviction rate for violent crimes has consistently remained at 89% or higher over the last 10 years.
  • Stet, Nol Pross, and Probations before Judgement (PBJs) have decreased over the ten-year period.
  • Only 1% of cases in 2019 resulted in a PBJ.
 The bars are represented on the first Y-axis, the line is represented on the second Y-Axis
The bars are represented on the first Y-axis, the line is represented on the second Y-Axis

Highlights

  • The conviction rate for gun crimes has consistently remained at around 90% over the last 10 years. 2018 marked the highest conviction rate over a 10 year period at 94%. The strong work carried into 2019 with the highest number of convictions over a 10 year period at 955 while maintaining a 92% conviction rate
  • Stet, Nol Pros, and Probations before Judgement (PBJs) have remained steady over the ten-year period. The number of Stet and Nol Pros cases has decreased by 37% from 2015 to 2019. Further, the number of Stet and Nol Pros cases in 2019 was a 10 year low at 323 cases, only 24% of cases overall.
  • The number of PBJs for gun cases in 2019 is at a 10 year low, only 21 cases resulted in a PBJ, 1% of all cases overall.

Prosecutorial Trends for Homicides (2017-2019)

The following data is for homicide cases, and is inclusive of 10 categories of homicide offenses. 

  • The data below shows that the office has had a conviction rate of 83% for homicides for the past three years.
  • No cases result in probation before judgement.
  • While an average of 12% of cases resulted in a nolle prosequi or were placed on the stet docket, this does not mean the case was dropped or dismissed in its entirety (The data shows that on average, 33% of cases were dismissed in order that the case be prosecuted by another jurisdiction)
  • Nonetheless, an average of 27% of the cases that resulted in a nolle prosequi or were placed on the stet docket happened because a key victim or witness failed to appear.

Number of homicide cases:

  • 2017 – 105
  • 2018 – 106
  • 2019 – 117

Number of cases that resulted in a conviction

  • 2017 – 80 Guilty. 15 Not Guilty. 0 dismissals – 80 out of 95 = 84% conviction rate
  • 2018 – 64 Guilty. 13 Not Guilty. 0 dismissals – 64 out of 77 = 83% conviction rate
  • 2019 – 83 Guilty. 16 Not Guilty. 2 dismissals – 83 out of 101 = 82% conviction rate

Number of cases that resulted in a nolle prosequi/stet docket

  • 2017 – 10 – 10 out of 105 = 10%
  • 2018 – 11 – 11 out of 106 = 10%
  • 2019 – 16 – 16 out of 117 = 14%

Rationale for nolle prosequi/ stet docket

2017:

STET/NP REASONS 2017 Total = 10
cnt StetNolProsReasonDesc FirstClosed Percentage
1 Other, not listed on form. 2017 10.00%
7 Prosecuted elsewhere. Federal 2017 70.00%
2 Witness/victim was a necessary witness and did not appear. 2017 20.00%

2018:

STET/NP REASONS 2018 Total = 11
cnt StetNolProsReasonDesc FirstClosed Percentage
1 Defective charging document. 2018 9.09%
1 NCR Not Criminally Responsible 2018 9.09%
1 Other, not listed on form. 2018 9.09%
1 Insufficient Evidence - other 2018 9.09%
1 Prosecuted elsewhere. Federal 2018 9.09%
1 Witness/victim statement inconsistent with evidence or otherwise lacks credibility. 2018 9.09%
1 Witness/victim substantially changed prior statement or can't remember facts. 2018 9.09%
4 Witness/victim was a necessary witness and did not appear. 2018 36.36%

2019:

STET/NP REASONS 2019 Total = 16
cnt StetNolProsReasonDesc FirstClosed Percentage
1 4th Amendment violation, motions hearing  YES 2019 6.25%
2 Defective charging document. 2019 12.50%
1 Insufficient Evidence - nexus 2019 6.25%
3 Insufficient Evidence - other 2019 18.75%
3 Prosecuted elsewhere. Federal 2019 18.75%
1 Witness/victim statement inconsistent with evidence or otherwise lacks credibility. 2019 6.25%
5 Witness/victim was a necessary witness and did not appear. 2019 31.25%

Prosecutorial Trends for Crimes of Violence (2017-2019)

The following data is for cases relating to crimes of violence, and includes 73 categories of violent crime offenses.

  • The data below shows that the office has had a conviction rate in or around 90% for violent offenses for the past three years.
  • Very few cases resulted in probation before judgement.
  • An average of 29% of cases resulted in a nolle prosequi or were placed on the stet docket, this does not mean the case was dropped and/or dismissed in its entirety (on average approximately 19% of the cases we dismissed, were either prosecuted by another jurisdiction, such as our federal partners, or the case is the subject of a plea deal in another case.)
  • Nonetheless, on average over half the cases that resulted in a nolle prosequi or were placed on the stet docket happened because a key victim or witness failed to appear.

Number of crimes of violence

  • 2017 – 1272 cases
  • 2018 – 1089 cases
  • 2019 – 1111 cases

Number of cases that resulted in a conviction

  • 2017 – 783 Guilty, 79 Not Guilty, 8 dismissed – 783 out of 870 = 90% conviction rate
  • 2018 – 725 Guilty, 49 Not Guilty, 7 dismissed – 725 out of 781 = 93% conviction rate
  • 2019 – 719 Guilty, 85 Not Guilty, 6 dismissed – 719 out of 810= 89% conviction rate

Number of cases that resulted in probation before judgement

  • 2017 – 23 – 23 out of 1272 = 2%
  • 2018 – 21 – 21 out of 1089 = 2%
  • 2019 – 9 – 9 out of  1111 = 1%

Number of cases that resulted in a nolle prosequi and the number of cases placed in the stet docket

  • 2017 – 402 – 402 out of 1272 = 31%
  • 2018 – 308 – 308 out of 1089 = 28%
  • 2019 – 301 – 301 out of 1111 = 27%

Rationale for nolle prosequi/stet docket

STET/NP REASONS 2017 Total = 402
cnt StetNolProsReasonDesc ClosedDT Percentage
9 Alternative to prosecution completed. 2017 2.30%
2 Defective charging document. 2017 0.51%
11 Insufficient Evidence - nexus 2017 2.81%
23 Insufficient Evidence - other 2017 5.87%
1 Negative laboratory report:  other 2017 0.26%
5 No identification can be made of defendant. 2017 1.28%
5 No identification can be made of the defendant. 2017 1.28%
12 Other, not listed on form. 2017 3.06%
5 Police officer was a necessary witness and was not present. 2017 1.28%
1 Prosecuted elsewhere. 2017 0.26%
1 Prosecuted elsewhere. County 2017 0.26%
16 Prosecuted elsewhere. Federal 2017 4.08%
1 Prosecuted elsewhere. Juvenile 2017 0.26%
38 Pursuant to plea negotiations in another case. 2017 9.69%
1 Technician was a necessary witness and was not present. 2017 0.26%
21 Witness/victim statement inconsistent with evidence or otherwise lacks credibility. 2017 5.36%
22 Witness/victim substantially changed prior statement or can't remember facts. 2017 5.61%
218 Witness/victim was a necessary witness and did not appear. 2017 55.61%
STET/NP REASONS 2018 Total = 308
cnt StetNolProsReasonDesc ClosedDT Percentage
1 5th Amendment violation, motions hearing   YES 2018 0.33%
1 Alternative to prosecution completed. 2018 0.33%
1 Defective charging document. 2018 0.33%
6 Insufficient Evidence - nexus 2018 1.97%
30 Insufficient Evidence - other 2018 9.87%
1 Negative laboratory report:  DNA 2018 0.33%
2 Police officer was a necessary witness and was not present. 2018 0.66%
2 Prosecuted elsewhere. County 2018 0.66%
30 Prosecuted elsewhere. Federal 2018 9.87%
45 Pursuant to plea negotiations in another case. 2018 14.80%
1 Unconstitutional ID Procedure, motions hearing YES 2018 0.33%
1 Witness claimed 5th Amendment privilege. Evidence otherwise insufficient. 2018 0.33%
17 Witness/victim statement inconsistent with evidence or otherwise lacks credibility. 2018 5.59%
11 Witness/victim substantially changed prior statement or can't remember facts. 2018 3.62%
155 Witness/victim was a necessary witness and did not appear. 2018 50.99%
STET/NP REASONS 2019 Total = 301
cnt StetNolProsReasonDesc ClosedDT Percentage
3 4th Amendment violation, motions hearing  YES 2019 1.02%
1 5th Amendment violation, motions hearing   YES 2019 0.34%
5 Alternative to prosecution completed. 2019 1.69%
8 Defective charging document. 2019 2.71%
4 Insufficient Evidence – nexus 2019 1.36%
25 Insufficient Evidence – other 2019 8.47%
1 Marital privilege claimed. 2019 0.34%
1 Necessary physical evidence not available. 2019 0.34%
2 Negative laboratory report:  DNA 2019 0.68%
2 Prosecuted elsewhere. County 2019 0.68%
31 Prosecuted elsewhere. Federal 2019 10.51%
16 Pursuant to plea negotiations in another case. 2019 5.42%
1 Witness claimed 5th Amendment privilege. Evidence otherwise insufficient. 2019 0.34%
13 Witness/victim statement inconsistent with evidence or otherwise lacks credibility. 2019 4.41%
19 Witness/victim substantially changed prior statement or can't remember facts. 2019 6.44%
163 Witness/victim was a necessary witness and did not appear. 2019 55.25%

Prosecutorial Trends for Firearm Offenses (2017-2019)

The following data is for cases relating to guns, and includes 23 categories of gun offenses.

  • The data below shows that the office has had a conviction rate in or around 90% for firearm offenses for the past three years.
  • Very few cases resulted in probation before judgement.
  • While an average of 27% of cases resulted in a nolle prosequi or were placed on the stet docket, this does not mean the case was dropped and/or dismissed in its entirety (n average, approximately 34% of the cases we dismissed, were either prosecuted by another jurisdiction or the case is the subject of a plea deal in another case).
  • Nonetheless, 25% of the cases that resulted in a nolle prosequi or were placed on the stet docket happened because a key victim or witness failed to appear.

Number of crimes for firearm cases

  • 2017 – 1315
  • 2018 – 1224
  • 2019 – 1366

Number of cases that resulted in a conviction

  • 2017 – 776 Guilty, 95 Not Guilty, 4 dismissed – 776 out of 875 = 89% conviction rate
  • 2018 – 873 Guilty, 51 Not Guilty, 4 dismissed – 873 out of 928 = 94% conviction rate
  • 2019 – 955 Guilty, 82 Not Guilty, 6 dismissed – 955 out of 1043 = 92% conviction rate

Number of cases that resulted in probation before judgement

  • 2017 – 27 – 27 out of 1315 = 2%
  • 2018 – 38 – 38 out of 1224 = 3%
  • 2019 – 22 – 22 out of 1366 = 2%

Number of cases that resulted in a nolle prosequi and the number of cases placed in the stet docket

  • 2017 – 440 – 440 out of 1315 = 33%
  • 2018 – 296 – 296 out of 1224 = 24%
  • 2019 – 323 – 323 out of 1366 = 24%

Rationale for a nolle prosequi or stet docket

2017:

STET/NP REASONS 2017 Total = 440
cnt StetNolProsReasonDesc FirstClosed Percentage
7 4th Amendment violation, motions hearing  NO 2017 1.7%
10 4th Amendment violation, motions hearing  YES 2017 2.4%
1 5th Amendment violation, motions hearing   YES 2017 0.2%
5 Alternative to prosecution completed. 2017 1.2%
6 Defective charging document. 2017 1.4%
26 Insufficient Evidence - nexus 2017 6.2%
47 Insufficient Evidence - other 2017 11.1%
2 Necessary physical evidence not available. 2017 0.5%
3 Negative laboratory report: firearms Exam. 2017 0.7%
2 No crime committed. 2017 0.5%
4 No identification can be made of defendant. 2017 0.9%
2 No identification can be made of the defendant. 2017 0.5%
28 Other, not listed on form. 2017 6.6%
39 Police officer was a necessary witness and was not present. 2017 9.2%
5 Prosecuted elsewhere. 2017 1.2%
69 Prosecuted elsewhere. Federal 2017 16.4%
2 Prosecuted elsewhere. Juvenile 2017 0.5%
32 Pursuant to plea negotiations in another case. 2017 7.6%
21 Witness/victim statement inconsistent with evidence or otherwise lacks credibility. 2017 5.0%
6 Witness/victim substantially changed prior statement or can't remember facts. 2017 1.4%
105 Witness/victim was a necessary witness and did not appear. 2017 24.9%

2018:

STET/NP REASONS 2018 Total = 296
cnt StetNolProsReasonDesc FirstClosed Percentage
4 4th Amendment violation, motions hearing  NO 2018 1.4%
8 4th Amendment violation, motions hearing  YES 2018 2.8%
1 5th Amendment violation, motions hearing   YES 2018 0.3%
4 Alternative to prosecution completed. 2018 1.4%
12 Defective charging document. 2018 4.2%
14 Insufficient Evidence - nexus 2018 4.9%
31 Insufficient Evidence - other 2018 10.8%
1 Negative laboratory report:  DNA 2018 0.3%
1 Negative laboratory report: firearms Exam. 2018 0.3%
16 Police officer was a necessary witness and was not present. 2018 5.6%
2 Prosecuted elsewhere. County 2018 0.7%
61 Prosecuted elsewhere. Federal 2018 21.3%
44 Pursuant to plea negotiations in another case. 2018 15.3%
1 Unconstitutional ID Procedure, motions hearing YES 2018 0.3%
1 Vacatur Statute Md. 8-301.1 2018 0.3%
9 Witness/victim statement inconsistent with evidence or otherwise lacks credibility. 2018 3.1%
6 Witness/victim substantially changed prior statement or can't remember facts. 2018 2.1%
71 Witness/victim was a necessary witness and did not appear. 2018 24.7%

2019:

STET/NP REASONS 2019 Total = 323
cnt StetNolProsReasonDesc FirstClosed Percentage
3 4th Amendment violation, motions hearing  NO 2019 0.9%
22 4th Amendment violation, motions hearing  YES 2019 6.9%
1 5th Amendment violation, motions hearing   YES 2019 0.3%
8 Alternative to prosecution completed. 2019 2.5%
6 Defective charging document. 2019 1.9%
11 Insufficient Evidence - nexus 2019 3.5%
21 Insufficient Evidence - other 2019 6.6%
3 Laboratory report not available: DNA 2019 0.9%
3 Necessary physical evidence not available. 2019 0.9%
5 Negative laboratory report:  DNA 2019 1.6%
7 Police officer was a necessary witness and was not present. 2019 2.2%
3 Prosecuted elsewhere. County 2019 0.9%
94 Prosecuted elsewhere. Federal 2019 29.7%
32 Pursuant to plea negotiations in another case. 2019 10.1%
6 Witness/victim statement inconsistent with evidence or otherwise lacks credibility. 2019 1.9%
9 Witness/victim substantially changed prior statement or can't remember facts. 2019 2.8%
83 Witness/victim was a necessary witness and did not appear. 2019 26.2%