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Data Dashboard - Prosecuting Attorney's Office

Learn more about how the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (PAO) Data Dashboard informs the public, government decision-makers, and criminal justice system partners about the trajectory of felony criminal justice cases in King County.

The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (PAO) handles the vast majority of felonies in King County and some misdemeanors. Misdemeanor crimes are low-level offenses punishable by up to 364 days in jail. Felony crimes are more serious offenses and may result in a prison sentence of more than 1 year.

About the dashboard

This dashboard only provides data on felony referrals and cases filed into King County Superior Court; it does not contain any data on cases in King County District Court or the various Municipal Courts. The data that populates this dashboard comes from the PAO and, where noted, the King County Department of Judicial Administration about cases filed or intended to be filed in King County Superior Court.

Guiding principles

The current dashboard is designed to provide users with understanding and insight into how the felony criminal justice system functions and the numbers of cases and people involved. This project is guided by the following foundational principles:

Transparency

The criminal justice system is complex—and we can’t expect it to improve unless people have a working understanding of where we are at today. By publicly sharing felony criminal justice data, we are acting on our commitment to share our power and our challenges with the broader community and increase public awareness so we can move to action.

Accountability

We aim for a process of continuous improvement where feedback from the community helps shape the dashboard, the work of the PAO, and our collective understanding of what it means to “do justice.” Through partnerships with organizations like the Urban Indian Health Institute, we are also working to advance Equity and Social Justice principles by improving how King County’s diverse communities are represented in our data collection and analysis.

Effectiveness

The criminal justice system in King County has been significantly impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Since March of 2020, King County Superior Court has been operating at a reduced capacity and continued restrictions are necessary due to limit the number of trials and hearings that can take place. In addition, the King County Executive has outlined guidelines to reduce the daily inmate population at the King County Jail in order to allow for increased social distancing for the health and safety of staff and inmates. At the same time, both national and local violent crime rates have continued to rise, with homicides and domestic violence crimes reaching historic levels. In light of these stark realities, the King County PAO is prioritizing its limited resources to address the more serious cases in the system. This includes crimes against persons, repeat property offenders, domestic violence, sexual assault, acts of violence, weapons cases, crimes against children and homicides.

Reform

Reducing mass incarceration, increasing diversions, and increasing community-based health infrastructure for people with behavioral health issues are key to our work in reforming the criminal justice system. While this dashboard is a work in progress, it offers insight into how we are making progress in our criminal justice reform efforts.

How to use the dashboard

We strive to provide the most accurate and complete information possible; it is being regularly reviewed and updated.

  • To explore the dashboard, click on the tabs above the graph below.
  • Use the check boxes and buttons on the right-hand side of the dashboard to choose specific data points for particular dates and crimes.
  • Hovering your cursor over the graphs or icons will cause pop-ups with additional information to appear.
  • A glossary of terms is listed below the graphs.

Suggestions or feedback?

Send your ideas to paodatadashboard@kingcounty.gov.

This data may be updated at any time.

Planned additions

We plan to regularly make additions to this dashboard. Currently, we are working on:

  • Law Enforcement Agency specific data
  • Analysis of specific types of crimes
  • Details on diversion and other alternative programs (such as Drug Court)
  • District Court data on misdemeanors handled by the PAO
  • Juvenile Court data

Basic process of a case

  • Law Enforcement submits the case to the KCPAO if they believe they have sufficient evidence that a crime has been committed or they are required to.
    • Learn more on the Referrals tab in the Data Dashboard glossary below.
  • The KCPAO reviews the case to determine if it will be filed into KCSC, diverted, or declined
    • Learn more on the Units, Declines, and Filings tab in the Data Dashboard glossary below.
  • The case is Open and legal proceedings continue until the case is resolved or disposed.
    • Learn more on the Open Cases and Dispositions tab in the Data Dashboard glossary below.

The Data Dashboard

Data Dashboard glossary

Cases can contain more than 1 crime and crimes from multiple categories. We are attempting to develop a system that reports out the general crime category of cases. In this draft system cases are only counted once, under the category of the most serious offense in the case. This system of classification is still under development and may be changed or adjusted at any time.

  • Burglary - Commercial or Non-Residential
    • Burglaries of commercial or non-residential structures such as businesses or buildings used for storage. If a burglary involved violence or weapons it would be counted as "Violent and Endangerment".
  • Commercial Sexual Abuse of Minors
    • Commercial Sexual Abuse of Minors and Human Trafficking.
  • Domestic Violence
    • Domestic Violence cases involve crimes between intimate partners and family members.
  • Drugs (VUCSA)
    • Drug-related offenses that typically involve drug dealing or manufacture. In the past this also included drug possession cases. In March of 2021 the Washington Supreme Court declared our state’s drug possession laws unconstitutional. As a result, all pending and prior drug possession cases had to be dismissed. The new laws regarding drug possession make it a misdemeanor offense, that would not be included in this dashboard, instead of a felony as it was previously. •
  • Economic/Property Offenses
    • Economic and property offenses that do not fit into the categories of Vehicle Theft, Burglary - Commercial or Non-Residential, or Residential Burglary. This includes but is not limited to theft, possession of stolen property, identity theft, destruction of property, forgery, and fraud.
  • Failure to Register
    • Failure to Register as a Sex Offender.
  • Hate Crimes
    • Hate Crimes, formerly known as Malicious Harassment.
  • Internet Crimes Against Children
    • Internet Crimes Against Children, including communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.
  • Murder/Homicide
    • Cases involving murder or homicide or linked to one, including attempted murder.
  • Other Felonies (not listed in other categories)
    • Other offenses not otherwise categorized, such as Attempting to Elude a Pursuing Police Vehicle, Escape, and other less common offenses.
  • Residential Burglary
    • Burglaries of residential structures such as homes and apartments. If a burglary involved violence or weapons it would be counted as "Violent and Endangerment".
  • Sexual Assault and Child Abuse
    • Sexual assault of adults and children, child physical abuse cases.
  • Vehicle Theft
    • Cases involving automobile theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, and related offenses.
  • Violent and Endangerment
    • Crimes involving violence, injury, threats of violence, endangerment of persons, and weapons.

The main section displays the number of open cases on the first day of the listed month. The KCPAO counts a case as open in King County Superior Court if it has one or more counts (criminal charges) that are unresolved (not disposed by way of verdict, plea, or dismissal) and there is no bench warrant from the Court ordering that the defendant be arrested for failing to appear for a required court hearing and brought before the Court. Persons charged with crimes (called defendants) have a right to be present at all critical stages and are required to appear for arraignment, critical hearings, trial, and sentencing.

In 2020, due to the public health restrictions created by COVID-19, the Washington Supreme Court placed limits on when a bench warrant could be issued for a defendant failing to appear for Court. Those cases did not go away. They had to be constantly monitored by the KCPAO to see if the defendant is booked into the King County Jail. Later on, new court hearings were set for those defendants to bring them before the Court and continue the case or, if they failed to appear, have bench warrants issued.

The King County Department of Judicial Administration (DJA) also provides data on open criminal cases; those numbers will likely be slightly different from what the KCPAO provides. This difference occurs because DJA and KCPAO use slightly different criteria to define open cases. So, although DJA and KCPAO data on open cases is very similar, it is unlikely that the data will ever be the same.

Age of caseload

This page displays the age of open cases, in days since filing, on the first day of each listed month. Examining the age of the open cases gives you a picture of how fast cases are proceeding through the system right now and how many new cases are entering the system relative to the overall caseload. Another potential measure is the time or days from the filing of a case to its disposition (resolution); however, that measure has substantial limitations which have been greatly exacerbated by the impacts of COVID-19.

The visual displays 3 different measures:

  • 25th Percentile
    • The 25th Percentile is the number of days where 25% of the open cases are that old or less. So, if the 25th Percentile were 68 days, you would know that 25% of the open cases were filed 68 or less days ago and 75% of cases were filed more than 68 days ago.
  • Median Case Age
    • The Median is the point at which half the cases are older than it and half the cases are younger than it. So, if the median were 140 days, you would know that half the cases were filed less than 140 days ago and half the cases were filed more than 140 days ago.
  • 75th Percentile
    • The 75th Percentile is the number of days where 75% of the open cases are that old or less. So, if the 75th Percentile were 257 days, you would know that 75% of the cases were filed less than 257 days ago and 25% of the cases were filed more than 257 days ago.

These three measures together show a band or range of the ages of the open caseload. As the cases get older and take longer to resolve the values of all three tend to increase and spread out. This can be easily seen by looking at the values before and after the COVID-19 related shutdowns began.

When a significant number of new cases are filed the 25th Percentile tends to decrease because you have increased the percent of cases that have recently been filed. This can in turn reduce the values for the Median and 75th Percentiles as their portions of the total change. Similar changes can sweep through all three measures when large numbers of cases resolve (depending on the age of the cases that resolved) and when policies or practices change.

Persons in Custody

This page displays the number and percent of defendants with open and active cases that are in custody (being held in the King County Jail) on a particular date. This data starts on October 1, 2021 and will be updated each month in the future with the breakdown of persons in custody on the first of day of that month. The King County Jail recently updated its records management system and the data is now at a point where this can be reported going forward.

There are two different ways to view this page: first, the overview which allows you to see the portion of all defendants with open and active cases in King County Superior Court that are in custody and second, the “In Custody Details” which shows you the breakdown of just the defendants in custody by factors that are commonly associated with custody status. Both pages can be filtered by the date and crime category. For example, if the date filter is set to October 1, 2021, and the Crime Category filter is set to Domestic Violence, the visuals would display the custody status of defendants with active Domestic Violence cases in King County Superior Court.

Important Considerations
  • These visuals only display the custody status of those defendants at the noted particular point in time. A defendant’s custody status can change from day to day and can go from out of custody to in custody multiple times over the life of a single case. Persons are booked into and released from the King County Jail every day for many different reasons.
  • These visuals do not tell you what the defendant is being held in custody on. A defendant can be held in custody on multiple cases at the same time and often are. So, if you were to filter the view to show defendants with VUCSA (Drug) cases, you should not assume that they are in custody on that drug charge. They may be held in custody on a separate case involving violence, a resolved case where they are serving a sentence, or even a case from another jurisdiction (county or city in WA) that is unrelated to the King County charges.
    • On the “In Custody Details” page each defendant is only listed under the highest group that applies to them. So, if a defendant had a SRA Violent Offense and FTA History, they would only be counted under those with a SRA Violent Offense. The Custody Groups are ordered from highest to least as follows:
      • Has a pending SRA Violent offense
      • Has a pending more serious offense
      • FTA History
      • Multiple Cases
      • Criminal History
      • If none of the above applies, the category "Other" is applied.

A case is referred when law enforcement formally submits a case to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office (PAO) for review. The KCPAO is not an investigative agency; it only reviews investigations done by law enforcement (typically police) to determine if there is sufficient legally admissible evidence to support the charges and whether the case meets our Filing and Disposition Standards.

Law enforcement typically submits a case to the KCPAO for review when it is 1 of the following:

  • They believe charges should be filed
  • They would like legal review of an investigation
  • When they are required to submit the case by law even though they do not believe charges should be filed (see Statutory Referral under Declines).

The KCPAO independently reviews those investigations and determines the appropriate course of action. An arrest is not the same thing as a referral to the KCPAO. Many arrests do not result in a referral to the KCPAO and, as a result, do not appear in the KCPAO data.

Cases take time for the KCPAO to review and determine the appropriate course. The amount of time it takes varies depending on the complexity of case, the amount of evidence, whether follow up investigation is required, and other factors. As a result, a case may not be declined or filed in the same month that it is referred.


A case is declined when the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office (KCPAO) determines that it will not file charges. Cases are declined when there is insufficient admissible evidence to prove a felony crime beyond a reasonable doubt, or when the case does not meet our Filing and Disposition Standards. The KCPAO sends out notice of the decline and an explanation to the investigating agency. Our filing and disposition standards are publicly available. Our analysis of the law applies to the law at the time the crime occurred. Some of the common types of declines are:

  • Referred to Municipal/District Court - The KCPAO has declined to file charges but specifically referred to another court for potential filing of misdemeanor charges.
  • Statutory Referral - Law enforcement is required by statute to submit their investigation of certain crimes to the KCPAO for review regardless of whether law enforcement believes charges should be filed. These include certain crimes involving sexual assault and child abuse.
  • VUCSA Decline <1g - Cases declined because they involve less than one gram of illegal drugs and no other criminal activity.
  • VUCSA per Blake - In early 2021, the Washington State Supreme Court’s Blake decision declared our state’s drug possession law was unconstitutional. This is what created the spike in case declines seen in March 2021.
    • A background on simple drug possession cases: In 2008, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg made the decision to charge simple drug possession cases as misdemeanors instead of felony crimes. In 2018, Dan made the decision to not charge simple possession cases (meaning no indicia of dealing) involving less than one gram (which is about what a packet of Splenda weighs). These cases are separate from cases where there’s evidence of drug dealing.

Cases take time for the KCPAO to review and determine the appropriate course. The amount of time it takes varies depending on the complexity of case, the amount of evidence, whether follow up investigation is required, and other factors. As a result, a case may not be declined or filed in the same month that it is referred.


A case is filed when the King County Prosecuting Attorneys Office (PAO) formally files paperwork with the Court alleging that one or more persons (typically referred to as the defendant or defendants) committed a crime or crimes and a Judge finds that there is probable cause to believe a crime was committed. Law enforcement conducts all investigations and can make initial arrest decisions; however, no charge/case can be filed without prosecutor review and approval. We independently reviews those investigations and determines the appropriate course of action. The standards governing the KCPAO's review of law enforcement investigations are called Filing and Disposition Standards and are publicly available.

There is a common misconception that victim’s “press charges.” This is not the case. We determine whether charges will be filed pursuant to our Filing and Disposition Standards, not the victim.

Cases take time for us to review and determine the appropriate course. The amount of time it takes varies depending on the complexity of case, the amount of evidence, whether follow up investigation is required, and other factors. As a result, a case may not be declined or filed in the same month that it is referred.

Note

The public health restrictions put in place to address COVID-19, along with its other impacts on the criminal justice system, have limited the rate at which new cases can be filed and generally slowed the standard process. The Court ordered slow-downs have occurred nationwide and are not specific to King County. The KCPAO data on filings may show slight differences to data reported by the King County department of Judicial Administration (DJA) about King County Superior Court cases. DJA and the PAO use different crime categorization rules, which may result in the difference in the DJA and PAO reports.


A disposition is the final result in a case. A case is only counted as being disposed once and is categorized by the most consequential or impactful disposition in the case. For example, if a defendant is charged with 2 different crimes in one case and pleads guilty to one crime and has the other dismissed, the case would count as one plea. The case would not be counted as a dismissal.

The results listed below are in the order used to determine how a case disposition is counted:

  • Jury Trial - The standard type of trial where a jury of 12 persons from the community decides whether a defendant is guilty or not guilty of the crimes charged. A jury decides on each crime charged individually. So, if a defendant is charged with multiple crimes the jury could find the defendant guilty of some crimes and not guilty of others. A jury's decision must be unanimous; if the jury cannot reach a unanimous decision on one or more crimes, the case is not disposed and will need to be resolved in another way (an additional trial, plea, or dismissal).
  • Bench Trial - A type of trial where the Judge acts as both Judge and Jury. A bench trial can only occur if the defendant requests one and specifically waives their constitutional right to a jury trial.
  • Plea - A plea is where the defendant pleads guilty to one or more crimes. It is typically referred to as a plea agreement because the defendant and prosecutor usually come to an agreement on the details of the plea. This can involve a plea agreement to a less serious crime than the defendant was originally charged with or having some crimes dismissed. Plea agreements can also involve the defendant pleading guilty to the crime they were originally charged with; a plea is not necessarily to a reduced charge. A plea cannot be entered unless a Judge finds the defendant has made a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary decision to do so.
  • Dismissal - A case may be dismissed upon a motion by the prosecutor, defense, or court. The dismissal of a case or crimes means that the defendant is no longer charged with the crime; in other words, the legal case is ended. It is important to note that some cases are dismissed in order to be referred to, or upon completion of, an alternative program such as Mental Health Court, Drug Court, or Veteran's Court – but that does not mean the case goes away. In those circumstances, the case is then handled in the alternative court. If an individual does not complete the requirements of the alternative court, the Superior Court case can be resumed. Sometimes, there are other nuances with dismissed cases. For example:
    • It is not uncommon for defendants have multiple criminal cases going on at the same time. A defendant may be able to resolve such a situation by pleading guilty to some of the cases in exchange for others being dismissed. So, if a defendant plead guilty to two cases in exchange for the dismissal of a third, those cases would each be counted separately, 2 as pleas and the third as a dismissal.
    • Cases are dismissed when the Court finds that an individual is incompetent to stand trial after an evaluation by the Department of Social and Health Services. Those dismissals can come with an order to Western State Hospital for civil commitment (mandatory treatment). If competency is restored, the criminal case may be refiled by the KCPAO.
    • The KCPAO may dismiss a case if, after additional investigation, new information comes to light that causes the KCPAO to conclude that the defendant did not commit the charged offense, that the case can no longer be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, or that the ends of justice no longer warrant prosecution.
    • In early 2021, the Washington State Supreme Court’s Blake decision declared our state’s drug possession law was unconstitutional. This is what created the spike in case dismissals seen in March 2021.
      • A background on simple drug possession cases: In 2008, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg made the decision to charge simple drug possession cases as misdemeanors instead of felony crimes. In 2018, Dan made the decision to not charge simple possession cases (meaning no indicia of dealing) involving less than one gram (which is about what a packet of Splenda weighs). These cases are separate from cases where there’s evidence of drug dealing.

We do not track the outcomes of trials; so, a case that is resolved by a trial is counted as a trial regardless of whether the verdict was guilty, not guilty, or a mix. This is done because the PAO does not want to unduly incentivize convictions or prison sentences. Prosecutors are directed and encouraged to pursue the just result in an ethical manner rather than to merely seek a conviction.


This data summarizes cases filed into King County Superior Court from 2009 through 2020. It was provided by the King County Department of Judicial Administration (DJA). The crime categories are those used by the courts and clerks across the state.

The data in all of the other tabs is from the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

The data reported by DJA about King County Superior Court cases may show slight differences when compared to data reported by us. DJA and the PAO use different crime categorization rules, which may result in the difference in the DJA and KCPAO reports. The crime reporting categories in the historical data have been standardized statewide (the KCPAO and DJA were not involved in setting them) and have been used for many years. However, they fail to capture important nuances. For example, there is no category for Domestic Violence related offenses.

Data definitions:

  • Homicide - Cases where the primary charge involves murder, manslaughter, excusable homicide, or justifiable homicide.
  • Sex Crimes - Cases where the primary charge involves sexual exploitation of a minor, incest, rape, statutory rape, or indecent liberties.
  • Robbery - Cases where the primary charge involves theft of property by the use of force, violence, or fear of injury to a person or his or her property.
  • Assault - Cases where the primary charge involves assault or intent to cause another person physical harm, including malicious harassment and coercion.
  • Theft/Burglary - Cases where the primary charge involves theft of property (other than a motor vehicle), possession of stolen property, extortion, burglary, or criminal trespass.
  • Motor Vehicle Theft - Cases where the primary charge involves taking a motor vehicle without permission of the owner.
  • VUCSA - (drug related offenses) Cases where the primary charge involves Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act (VUCSA) or violation of regulations regarding prescription drugs.
  • Other Felony - Cases where the primary charge involves a felony which is not specifically defined above.
  • Misdemeanors - Cases where the primary charge involves a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor based on the Revised Code of Washington.

Race and ethnicity

For the race/ethnicity and gender of defendants we must rely entirely on what law enforcement reports. Our ethical and legal responsibilities prohibit us from speaking directly with defendants in criminal cases. Over 30 separate law enforcement agencies submit cases to the PAO; each of those agencies has separate policies and systems for collecting demographic data, which can result in varying levels of reporting.

Law enforcement currently reports 7 categories of race/ethnicity or no value at all:

  1. White/Caucasian
  2. Black/African American
  3. Asian/Pacific Islander
  4. American Indian/Alaska Native
  5. Hispanic/Latino
  6. Unknown
  7. Other

These categories create data quality problems by only allowing a single selection, being generally outdated, and grouping race and ethnicity together. These data problems are compounded by inconsistent reporting and collection of this data. Unfortunately, this results in the PAO having very unreliable and inaccurate race and ethnicity data.

Collecting accurate race, ethnicity, and gender data is critical to achieving equity and fairness in the criminal justice system. The best data on race and ethnicity is self-reported; meaning that the person contacted by law enforcement decided how they would be identified.

Age and gender

Criminal justice data on age and gender is far better than the race and ethnicity data but still suffers from some significant limitations. Gender data is often limited to female, male, left blank, or listed as unknown. Generally, the data on defendants is much better than the data on victims. For information on the issues related to data on victims, click on the "Victim Data" button in the top right corner of the screen. Victim data is of an even poorer quality than data on defendants. This occurs because, in addition to the issues with data on defendants, detailed victim demographic data is only collected and reported sporadically.

We partnered with Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) to improve how race and ethnicity data is collected and analyzed. UIHI's expertise in data management systems and equity-driven approaches has been critical to advancing this project. Their recommendations on best practices for American Indian and Alaska Native data collection, analysis, and tribal consultation have informed how we transform our data systems to be more responsive to the communities that we serve.

This ongoing partnership was launched in part by UIHI’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) initiative, which documents how inadequate data collection systems obscure the magnitude of violence against Indigenous women and girls. They have undertaken efforts to standardize data collection and analysis procedures in law enforcement agencies across the country to improve the accuracy of data on violence against Indigenous women and girls. Their work in modernizing data systems to reflect present-day racial diversity is coupled with training and education on how to appropriately collect and analyze racial data. We hope our partnership with UIHI will serve as a model for other agencies to make changes to improve the quality of race and ethnicity data on defendants and victims in the criminal justice system.

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