How Often Do Felony Arrests Lead to Convictions?

 Posted on June 28,2023 in Criminal Defense

Hartford Criminal LawyerBail reform is an issue that many criminal justice advocates have focused on in recent years. The cash bail systems used in many states are often unfair and unjust, and people who cannot afford to pay bail may be forced to remain in prison until the criminal charges against them have been resolved. While advocates have called for reform to this system, and several states have begun to limit the use of cash bail for people charged with non-violent crimes, opponents of bail reform have claimed that these policies have led to felony offenders being released, increasing the likelihood that they will commit additional crimes. However, by looking at the statistics related to how felony offenses are prosecuted, it becomes clear that these claims are misleading.

Most Felony Charges Are Dismissed

It is often claimed that bail is necessary to ensure that violent offenders will remain behind bars, preventing them from committing additional offenses. However, just because someone is charged with a felony, this does not mean that they actually committed the offense in question. In fact, the statistics surrounding felony prosecutions demonstrate that the vast majority of people who are charged with felonies are not convicted of these offenses.

A review of felony arrests and prosecutions in the state of New York in 2021 found that out of more than 100,000 cases that began as felony arrests, dismissals or acquittals occurred in around 52,000 of these cases. Over 70 percent of the remaining cases resulted in convictions for lesser charges, including misdemeanors or non-criminal infractions, with the initial felony charges being dismissed. Ultimately, 82 percent of all cases in which people were arrested on felony charges did not result in felony convictions.

These statistics demonstrate that while there are many people charged with felonies, the vast majority of cases do not result in convictions for serious crimes. This also shows how tactics used by prosecutors have led to large numbers of cases involving felony charges when there is not a valid reason to charge defendants with these offenses. Prosecutors will often use felony charges as a method to convince defendants to plead guilty to lesser offenses. When faced with the prospect of a felony conviction that could result in a lengthy prison sentence and other penalties, defendants will often agree to plea bargains, resolving their cases by accepting a misdemeanor conviction or a non-criminal infraction.

Based on these statistics and the practices followed by police officers and prosecutors, it is clear that claims that bail reform would result in dangerous offenders being released are overblown. Since a large percentage of people charged with felonies are unlikely to be convicted of these offenses, their release from custody would not indicate that they would present a risk to public safety. In fact, holding people in jail for longer periods of time may increase the likelihood that they will commit crimes in the future. A person who is incarcerated may lose their job, experience disruption in their family life, and struggle to find housing, all of which can lead them to turn to criminal activity.

One recent study found that bail reform has reduced the number of people who are re-arrested after being released. This study looked at arrest statistics following the implementation of a 2020 New York law that limited judges' ability to impose bail for people charged with low-level crimes. Those who were released following bail reform were re-arrested within two years at a rate of 44 percent, but the re-arrest rate for those who were held in jail prior to the implementation of the new law was 50 percent. As new policies are implemented that allow people to be released while minimizing disruptions to their lives, it is likely that the number of arrests will decrease further.

Contact Our Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyer

While advocates are calling for additional changes to how bail is handled and the ways people are prosecuted for crimes, defendants will still face challenges as they determine how to respond to criminal charges. At Woolf Law Firm, LLC, our Hartford criminal defense attorney can provide effective representation in these cases, addressing issues related to bail and helping defendants determine how to respond to the charges they are facing. To learn how we can help you defend against criminal charges, contact us at 860-290-8690 and arrange a free consultation today.



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