Fairfax Prosecutor Charging Less, Losing More Than Predecessor

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New Data Obtained via FOIA Reveals Descano’s Failure – As Crime Rises

News Release | Virginians for Safe Communities

New exclusive data shows that Fairfax Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve T. Descano is filing fewer felony cases in Fairfax Circuit Court than his predecessor, Ray Morrogh, even as crime has risen in Fairfax County under his tenure.

According to data obtained by Virginians for Safe Communities (VSC) via a Freedom of Information Act request, Descano filed half (-49.4%) as many felony cases (4,661) in Circuit Court between 2020-2022 compared to the 9,216 cases filed in the three years prior (2017-2019) under former Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh.

Meanwhile, the number of cases disposed of or reaching resolution (i.e., guilty, not guilty, dismissed etc.) fell by 41% from 9,818 to 5,823.

Worse, both dismissals – including those ordered by the judge or requested by the Commonwealth – and motions to drop charges (e.g., “nolle prosequi” or NP) have surged 51% under Descano’s watch from 24% from 2017-2019 to 36.3% in the 2020-2022 period.

Dismissals jumped from 13.9% in Morrogh’s last three years (2017-2019) to 19.2% under Descano’s first three years (2020-2022). Descano has also dropped 35% more cases, meaning he abandoned charges in 17.1% cases he had already pursued all the way to Circuit Court, versus Morrogh’s 11.1% NP rate.

Even when excluding data to account for the COVID-19 related court closures in 2020 and lingering restrictions into 2021, Descano’s office is bringing fewer felony cases and disposing of fewer of them than Morrogh did in 2017, 2018, or 2019 compared to 2022, when the courts were fully functioning.

VSC President Sean Kennedy said, “The numbers don’t lie: Descano quits or loses more often than he wins – but the citizens of Fairfax are the real losers, denied justice and less safe under his watch.”

To learn more, visit SafeCommunitiesVA.com.

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