It Was Way Easier To Beat Your Case In The 70s

Yet another interesting fact from Crime in California, a publication of the California Department of Justice: in 1975 only 48.4% of arrests resulted in conviction.  By contrast, in 2013, 69.8% of arrests result in conviction: a huge jump.  Over the same time period the number of arrestees who “got off” when they were acquitted or their cases were dismissed dropped from 29.6% to 11.9%.

The number of complaints rejected by prosecutors has remained relatively constant.  But the chances that a law enforcement agency will release you rather than asking that you be charged has dropped from 10.7% of all arrests to just 3.4% in 2013.

Do these statistics mean that prosecutors are getting better at their job?  Does it mean that police are working up their cases better, and providing prosecutors with more evidence?  Or maybe police are only arresting winnable cases?  Maybe this has to do with the rise of plea bargaining?  I don’t know yet (but I’m looking forward to finding out) so in the absence of evidence I’m going to choose to believe that the rise in convictions is due to the hard work and dedication of the state’s Deputy District Attorneys, may their cups always overflow with justice.

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