DC’s Criminal Justice System

Prosecution Data

DC Prosecution Data (2010-2015)

Guides and Handbooks

DC Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems at a Glance (DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council)

A Guide to Criminal Justice in Washington, D.C.  (District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute)

Journalists’ Handbook to the Courts in the District of Columbia (www.dccourts.gov)


Assistance for Victims

Crime Victim Assistance

How the Community Can Influence Sentencing

Community Impact Statements

Decision to Not Prosecute

No-Papering of a Criminal Case

Pretrial Detention and Release

Pretrial Detention and Subsequent Release

Alternatives to Imprisonment

Diversion Programs


Juveniles and Criminal Justice

Prosecution Authority for Violations of DC Criminal Code

In general, prosecution of those accused of committing violent crimes is handled by the DC Office of the Attorney General when the accused is a juvenile, and by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia when the accused is an adult. However, a juvenile 16-18 years old who is charged with certain violent crimes can be prosecuted as an adult, in which case the prosecution is handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

See chart below for more details.

Should DC Be Allowed to Prosecute All Local Crimes?

Local Autonomy And The Prosecution of Crimes In D.C. (Kojo Nnamdi Show, Feb. 17, 2016) (The attorney general under former District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray argues that local officials should be able to prosecute local crimes – just the same as local prosecutors can in every city across the country besides the District.)

Let D.C.’s elected attorney general prosecute D.C. crimes (Washington Post, Feb. 12, 2016) (“Placing prosecutorial discretion for local crimes . . . with local prosecutors . . . would ensure that prosecutorial decisions reflected the concerns and values of the community.”)

Sexual Assault Survivors Say the U.S. Attorney’s Office Isn’t Explaining Why It Declines Their Cases (Washington City Paper, Mar. 3, 2016) (“Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, who heads the judiciary committee, commended the survivors for testifying, but pointed out that the Council is limited in what it can direct the USAO to do. The District is the only jurisdiction in the country where federal prosecutors handle local felony cases.”)




U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia DC Office of the Attorney General
  • “Serious local crime”
  • Criminal traffic offenses
  • Some weapons offenses
  • “Quality of life” offenses
  • Municipal regulations offenses
  • Certain fraud against the DC government
  • Adults responsible for truancy of children
  • Violations of DC criminal laws except when juvenile 16-18 years old is charged as an adult
  • Violations of certain DC criminal laws when juvenile 16-18 years old is charged as an adult
  • Offenses that can only be committed by a juvenile (e.g., truancy)