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Outcomes from Preliminary Hearings & Post-Preliminary Hearings for Homicide & Non-Fatal Shooting Cases, Explained

By the District Attorney’s Transparency Analytics Lab (DATA Lab)

Takeaways: 

  • The DAO charges nearly every homicide and non-fatal shooting (NFS) arrest. There are many more reported homicides and non-fatal shootings where no arrest is made. 
  • The small number of cases that are dismissed by a Judge or withdrawn by the District Attorney’s Office (DAO) during the preliminary hearing are not strong enough to continue to trial due to a range of factors, including reluctance on the part of witnesses.
  • There are many pending cases for both homicides and non-fatal shootings that have cleared a preliminary hearing and are awaiting trial.  
  • From January 1, 2017 through September 18, 2022, the conviction rates for homicide cases that passed a preliminary hearing was 87%, with a NFS conviction rate of 78%. 
  • From January 1, 2021, through September 18, 2022 – since the courts resumed normal function after shutting down in 2020 due to COVID-19 – the conviction rate for homicides that passed a preliminary hearing was 88%, with a NFS conviction rate of 81% (not shown in graphs). 
HOMICIDE CASES 

Incidents – Arrests – Cases  

  • From Jan. 1, 2017 up to and including Sept. 18, 2022, the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) recorded 2,376 homicides.   
  • Of the 2,376 homicides recorded by PPD, 914 arrests were effectuated. This means that the PPD effectuated arrests in approximately 39% of homicide incidents. 
  • Of the 914 arrests effectuated by Philadelphia Police, 911 homicide cases were opened by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO). This means that the DAO since 2017 has found sufficient evidence to charge 99% of homicide arrests by the PPD, highlighting DA Krasner and the DAO’s commitment to pursuing accountability for violent offenses. 

NOTE: Because multiple cases can stem from one incident, 1,428 homicide cases in total were opened.

 

 

Preliminary Hearing Outcomes 

Of the 1,428 homicide cases opened by the DAO, to date Philadelphia judges found sufficient evidence to hold 1,221 homicide cases over for trial. 96% (1,221 of 1,276) of homicide cases brought by the DAO during this period have made it past the preliminary hearing, underscoring the commitment of the DAO’s prosecutors and support staff to ensuring that only the highest quality homicide cases are brought before judges.

Post-Preliminary Hearing Outcomes 

The DAO has secured convictions and delivered justice for victims and communities in 87% of the over 500 homicide cases held for trial since 2017. Approximately half of cases held for court during this period are still pending trial as of Sept. 18, 2022, due largely to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 court changes. Of the remaining cases, 9% resulted in a finding by a jury or judge of Not Guilty (acquittal); another 4% were withdrawn or dismissed by the court, often due to witnesses’ reluctance to testify. While the DAO measures the quality and quantity of justice in ways besides conviction rates – such as exonerations of innocent people and diversion for lower-level offenses – this high conviction rate is emblematic of the talent possessed by the prosecutors assigned to the DAO’s Homicide and Non-Fatal Shooting Unit, and underscores how seriously DA Krasner and the DAO take accountability for violent crime.

NON-FATAL SHOOTING CASES  

Incidents – Arrests – Cases 

  • From Jan. 1, 2017 up to and including Sept. 18, 2022, the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) recorded 8,252 non-fatal shooting (NFS) incidents.   
  • Of the 8,252 NFS incidents recorded by PPD, 1,518 arrests were effectuated. This means that the PPD effectuated arrests in approximately 18% of NFS incidents. 
  • Of the 1,518 arrests effectuated by Philadelphia Police, 1,495 NFS cases were opened by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO). This means that the DAO since 2017 has found sufficient evidence to charge 99% of NFS arrests by the PPD, highlighting DA Krasner’s commitment to pursuing accountability for violent, firearm-related offenses. 

NOTE: Because multiple cases can stem from one incident, 1,932 NFS cases in total were opened.

 

 

Preliminary Hearing Outcomes 

Of the 1,932 NFS cases opened, to date Philadelphia judges found sufficient evidence to hold 1,403 NFS cases over for trial. 82% (1,403 of 1,709) of cases brought by the DAO during this time period have made it past the preliminary hearing, underscoring the commitment of the DAO’s prosecutors and support staff to ensuring that only the highest quality NFS cases are brought before judges.  

Post-Preliminary Hearing Outcomes 

The DAO secured convictions and delivered justice for victims and communities in 78% of the over 600 NFS cases held for trial since 2017. Almost half of cases held for court during this period are still pending trial as of Sept. 18, 2022, due largely to the lingering effects of COVID-19 court changes. Only 11% of cases resulted in a finding by a jury or judge of Not Guilty (acquittal); another 11% were withdrawn or dismissed by the court, often due to witnesses’ reluctance to testify. While the DAO measures the quality and quantity of justice in ways besides conviction rates – such as exonerations of innocent people and diversion for lower-level offenses – this high conviction rate is emblematic of the talent possessed by the prosecutors assigned to the DAO’s Homicide and Non-Fatal Shooting Unit.