News

Felony Narcotics Prosecutions

Under the direction of District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, SFDA made combatting open-air drug markets and holding drug dealers accountable a top priority of her administration.

Since July 2022, SFDA has seen an almost twofold rise in the number of arrests for fentanyl dealing and other drug dealing, with the office filing over 1,300 drug dealing cases.

In 2023, the District Attorney’s Office has been presented with and filed the most felony narcotics cases since 2018 with 998 cases presented and 867 cases filed. During the exact same time, there have been 323 convictions or pleas to another felony charge in felony narcotic cases.  This number includes two convictions after jury trial.

Jury Convicts Man in Fentanyl Possession for Sale Case

Jury Convicts Man for Selling Fentanyl in SOMA

Year to date in 2024, the District Attorney’s Office has been presented with 97 felony narcotics cases and filed 90.  Year to date in 2024 there have been 57 felony narcotics convictions or pleas to another felony charge in felony narcotics cases.

As of February 8, 2024, there are more felony narcotics sales cases in Bench Warrant Status (765) than pending before the court (562).  Bench warrants are issued by the court in cases where defendants who are out of custody fail to appear in court for a mandated hearing.

As of February 8, 2024, there are 582 individuals with open bench warrants who failed to appear for narcotics sales cases who were released by the court.   Of these individuals in bench warrant status, 145 of them have more than one open case. Six individuals have four open cases and one individual has five open cases.

Number of Bench Warrant Cases People with Bench Warrant Cases Total Bench Warrant Cases
1 437 437
2 115 230
3 23 69
4 6 24
5 1 5
Total 582 765

As of February 8, 2024, there are 452 individuals with pending cases for narcotics sales cases.  Of these individuals, 87 of them have more than one open case.  Three individuals have four open cases.

Number of Pending Cases People with Pending Cases Total Pending Cases
1 365 365
2 67 134
3 17 51
4 3 12
Total 452 562

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office is a committed partner in the ongoing efforts to support the comprehensive violence intervention and public safety strategies addressing the fentanyl crisis. As a city rich with diversity and home to families, immigrants, seniors, merchants, and workers, San Francisco must collectively support individuals in need of harm reduction and/or drug overdose interventions and ensure public safety services and programs are available as appropriate.

Shortly after taking office, District Attorney Jenkins revoked over 30 lenient plea offers related to narcotics cases made by the previous administration that had not been accepted. Additionally, District Attorney Jenkins quickly implemented new policies for prosecutors on how narcotics cases would be handled moving forward, such as establishing a drug use and possession citation bundling policy to help steer users into treatment. The new policies are rooted in saving lives of individuals impacted by epidemic levels of drug addiction and violence, while providing alternative pathways.

As a result, narcotics cases are now being properly investigated. Prosecutors are advancing public safety arguments to detain egregious drug dealers of fentanyl or repeat offenders selling this deadly poison, and requesting they be held in custody while their cases are pending.

Since District Attorney Brooke Jenkins took office, the District Attorney’s Office has filed 433 motions to detain the most serious drug dealing suspects because of the extreme public safety risk they pose. Of the 433 detention motions filed, the court has granted 40.

The District Attorney’s Office moves to have defendants detained at arraignment while the case is pending to protect the safety of the public and ensure suspected drug dealers are not quickly returning to the streets to continue selling fentanyl. The court in its sole discretion may choose to rule at arraignment or defer the ruling to a subsequent hearing in the matter, such as the preliminary hearing.  When rulings are deferred, the court is effectively denying the motion without prejudice, which means that the motion may be heard at a subsequent hearing, like a preliminary hearing.  Preliminary Hearings are evidentiary hearings where prosecutors present evidence to support the charges and allegations filed in a case.

Arraignments are typically in Department 10 at 1:30 p.m. each day, although some are scheduled for 9:00 a.m.  Preliminary Hearings are typically heard in Departments 9, 11 and 12 at the Hall of Justice, 850 Bryant Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.  Click here for the court’s calendar.