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364. Delinquency Cases and Case Rates, by Sex and Race

[A delinquency offense is an act committed by a juvenile for which an adult could be prosecuted in a criminal court. Disposition of a case involves taking a definite action such as waiving the case to criminal court, dismissing the case, placing the youth on probation, placing the youth in a facility for delinquents, or such actions as fines, restitution, and community service. Offenses may not add to toal sex and race categories due to rounding]

Number of cases Case rate 1
Sex, race,
and offense 1987 1992 1996 1987 1992 1996
Male, total 954,100 1,197,100 1,359,000 72.7 87.7 92.9
  Person.. 152,900 243,500 285,800 11.7 17.8 19.5
  Property 578,400 693,500 671,100 44.1 50.8 45.9
  Drugs.. 60,800 63,900 151,100 4.6 4.7 10.3
  Public order.. 162,000 196,200 251,000 12.3 14.4 17.2
Female, total 226,700 286,700 398,600 18.2 22.2 28.8
  Person.. 38,000 64,700 95,700 3.0 5.0 6.9
  Property 134,000 167,100 203,300 10.7 12.9 14.7
  Drugs.. 11,300 8,700 25,200 0.9 0.7 1.8
  Public order.. 43,400 46,100 74,400 3.5 3.6 5.4
White, total 831,800 975,800 1,158,600 40.2 45.8 51.0
  Person.. 110,200 177,000 224,600 5.3 8.3 9.9
  Property 522,100 604,500 611,500 25.2 28.4 26.9
  Drugs.. 48,200 37,500 114,100 2.3 1.8 5.0
  Public order.. 151,300 156,700 208,400 7.3 7.4 9.2
Black, total. 315,000 453,800 530,100 82.4 113.7 124.1
  Person.. 76,000 121,300 143,100 19.9 30.4 33.5
  Property 168,000 221,300 223,700 43.9 55.4 52.3
  Drugs.. 22,300 33,500 57,800 5.8 8.4 13.5
  Public order.. 48,700 77,700 105,500 12.7 19.5 24.7
Other races, total 34,000 54,300 69,000 32.5 42.6 46.7
  Person.. 4,700 9,900 13,800 4.5 7.8 9.3
  Property 22,400 34,900 39,200 21.4 27.3 26.6
  Drugs.. 1,600 1,600 4,400 1.5 1.3 3.0
  Public order.. 5,400 7,900 11,500 5.1 6.2 7.8
Male, total (NA) 243,000 161,900 (NA) 15 5
  Person.. (NA) 90,600 42,300 (NA) 6 2
  Property (NA) 115,100 -22,400 (NA) 7 -5
  Drugs.. (NA) 3,100 87,200 (NA) 0 6
  Public order.. (NA) 34,200 54,800 (NA) 2 3
Female, total (NA) 60,000 111,900 (NA) 4 7
  Person.. (NA) 26,700 31,000 (NA) 2 2
  Property (NA) 33,100 36,200 (NA) 2 2
  Drugs.. (NA) -2,600 16,500 (NA) 0 1
  Public order.. (NA) 2,700 28,300 (NA) 0 2
White, total (NA) 144,000 182,800 (NA) 6 5
  Person.. (NA) 66,800 47,600 (NA) 3 2
  Property (NA) 82,400 7,000 (NA) 3 -1
  Drugs.. (NA) -10,700 76,600 (NA) -1 3
  Public order.. (NA) 5,400 51,700 (NA) 0 2
Black, total. (NA) 138,800 76,300 (NA) 31 10
  Person.. (NA) 45,300 21,800 (NA) 11 3
  Property (NA) 53,300 2,400 (NA) 12 -3
  Drugs.. (NA) 11,200 24,300 (NA) 3 5
  Public order.. (NA) 29,000 27,800 (NA) 7 5
Other races, total (NA) 20,300 14,700 (NA) 10 4
  Person.. (NA) 5,200 3,900 (NA) 3 2
  Property (NA) 12,500 4,300 (NA) 6 -1
  Drugs.. (NA) 0 2,800 (NA) 0 2
  Public order.. (NA) 2,500 3,600 (NA) 1 2

1 Cases per 1,000 youth at risk.

Source: National Center for Juvenile Justice, Pittsburgh, PA, Juvenile Court Statistics, annual. 1997 most recent.

* Juvenile Court Statistics


These data are national estimates of juvenile delinquency derived from a nonprobability sample of delinquency cases disposed in 1994 by courts with juvenile jurisdiction. Such courts may also handle other matters, including traffic violations, child support, adoption, and child abuse and neglect. However, these data focus on the courts' handling of juveniles charged with criminal law violations.

Data collection involves the secondary analysis of data originally compiled by juvenile courts or juvenile justice agencies to meet their own information and reporting needs. As a consequence, the incoming data are not uniform across jurisdictions. In addition, the data are not from a scientifically selected probability sample of courts, but rather from those juvenile systems that routinely collect and willingly disseminate their data. To combine information from various sources, the data were restructured into two standardized data sets: detailed case-level data and aggregate court-level data.

Case-level data are usually generated by courts with automated client tracking information systems or automated case reporting systems. These data describe in detail the characteristics of each delinquency and status offense case handled by the courts. The court-level aggregate statistics were either abstracted from annual reports of State and local courts or supplied on request by local and State agencies. These data describe the number of delinquency and status offense cases handled by a court in a defined time period. National estimates are derived from a sample of 761,897 individual case records from 1,405 jurisdictions in 26 States with jurisdiction over 51% of the Nation's youth population at risk, and a sample of compatible court-level aggregate statistics on an additional 191,789 delinquency cases from 411 jurisdictions in an additional 7 States. In all, the national estimates are based on data reported by 1,816 jurisdictions covering 67% of the Nation's youth population at risk.

National estimates of the number and characteristics of delinquency and petitioned status offense cases disposed by juvenile courts in 1994 were developed using the national case-level data, the national court-level data, and county-level youth population at risk estimates. The basic assumption underlying the estimation procedure is that similar legal and demographic factors shape the volume and characteristics of juvenile court cases in reporting counties and nonreporting counties of similar size and features. The weighting procedures developed to generate national estimates of court activity from the nonprobability sample control for many factors, including the size of the community; the demographic composition of a community's youth population; the volume of cases referred to reporting courts; the age, sex, and race characteristics of the youth involved; and the offense characteristics of the cases. Despite these controls and others, no procedure can completely overcome the fundamental threats to validity associated with the use of a nonprobability sample.

The unit of count is a case disposed by a court with juvenile jurisdiction. A case represents a youth processed by a juvenile court on a new referral regardless of the number of charges contained in that referral. A youth charged with four burglaries in a single referral represents a single case, whereas a youth referred to court intake for three burglaries and referred again the following week on another burglary charge represents two cases, even if the court eventually merges the two referrals for efficient processing.

The offense coded was the most serious offense for which the youth was referred to court. Attempts to commit an offense were included under that offense category except attempted murder, which was included in the aggravated assault category.

The term disposed means that a definite action has been taken or that a plan of treatment has been selected or initiated. It does not necessarily mean that the case is closed or terminated in the sense that all contact with the youth has ceased. * Definitions of terms

Adjudicated--Judicially determined (judged) to be a delinquent or status offender.

Delinquent act/offense--An act committed by a juvenile for which an adult could be prosecuted in a criminal court, but when committed by a juvenile is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.

Detention--The placement of a youth in a restrictive facility between referral to court and case disposition.

Juvenile--Youth at or below the upper age of juvenile court jurisdiction. See Upper age of jurisdiction and Youth population at risk.

Nonpetitioned cases--Informally handled cases that duly authorized court personnel screen for adjustment prior to the filing of a formal petition. Such personnel include judges, referees, probation officers, other officers of the court, and/or an agency statutorily designated to conduct petition screening for the juvenile court.

Petitioned cases--Formally handled cases that appear on the official court calendar in response to the filing of a petition or other legal instrument requesting the court to adjudicate the youth a delinquent, status offender, or a dependent child, or to waive (transfer) the youth to criminal court for processing as an adult.

Placement out-of-home--Cases in which youth were placed in a residential facility housing delinquents or status offenders or were otherwise removed from their home.

Probation--Cases in which youth were placed on informal/voluntary or formal/court-ordered probation or supervision.

Transfer/waiver--Cases that were waived or transferred to criminal court as the result of a waiver or transfer hearing in juvenile court. Cases are included in this category only if the transfer resulted from judicial actions alone. Some cases can be transferred to criminal court through the actions of prosecutors. However, these data report judicial waivers only. Excluded are cases that were transferred to criminal court under concurrent jurisdiction provisions.

Upper age of jurisdiction--The oldest age at which a juvenile court has original jurisdiction over an individual for law-violating behavior. For the time period covered by these data in three States (Connecticut, New York, and North Carolina) the upper age of jurisdiction was 15, in eight States (Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, South Carolina, and Texas) the upper age of jurisdiction was 16, in Wyoming it was 18, and in the remaining 38 States and the District of Columbia the upper age of jurisdiction was 17. It must be noted that within most States there are exceptions to the age criteria that place or permit youth at or below the State's upper age of jurisdiction to be under the original jurisdiction of the adult criminal court. For example, in most States if a youth of a certain age is charged with one of a defined list of what are commonly labeled "excluded offenses," the case must originate in the adult criminal court. In addition, in a number of States, the district attorney is given the discretion of filing certain cases either in the juvenile or in the criminal court. Therefore, while the upper age of jurisdiction is commonly recognized in all States, there are numerous exceptions to this age criterion.

Youth population at risk--For delinquency and status offense matters this is the number of children from age 10 through the upper age of jurisdiction. In all States the upper age of jurisdiction is defined by statute. In most States individuals are considered adults when they reach their 18th birthday. Therefore, for these States, the delinquency and status offense youth population at risk would equal the number of children who are 10 through 17 years of age living within the geographical area serviced by the court.

Offenses within categories

Crimes against persons--This category includes criminal homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, and other person offenses as defined below.

Criminal homicide--Causing the death of another person without legal justification or excuse. Criminal homicide is a summary category, not a single codified offense. The term, in law, embraces all homicides where the perpetrator intentionally killed someone without legal justification, or accidentally killed someone as a consequence of reckless or grossly negligent conduct. It includes all conduct encompassed by the terms murder, nonnegligent (voluntary) manslaughter, negligent (involuntary) manslaughter, and vehicular manslaughter. The term is broader than the Crime Index category used in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) in which murder and nonnegligent manslaughter does not include negligent manslaughter or vehicular manslaughter.

Forcible rape--Sexual intercourse or attempted sexual intercourse with a female against her will by force or threat of force. The term is used in the same sense as in the UCR Crime Index. (Some States have enacted gender neutral rape or sexual assault statutes that prohibit forced sexual penetration of either sex. Data reported by such States do not distinguish between forcible rape of females as defined above and other sexual assaults.)

Robbery--Unlawful taking or attempted taking of property that is in the immediate possession of another by force or the threat of force. The term is used in the same sense as in the UCR Crime Index and includes forcible purse snatching.

Assault--Unlawful intentional inflicting, or attempted or threatened inflicting, of injury upon the person of another.

Aggravated assault--Unlawful intentional inflicting of serious bodily injury, or unlawful threat or attempt to inflict bodily injury or death by means of a deadly or dangerous weapon with or without actual infliction of any injury. The term is used in the same sense as in the UCR Crime Index. It includes conduct included under the statutory names aggravated assault and battery, aggravated battery, assault with intent to kill, assault with intent to commit murder or manslaughter, atrocious assault, attempted murder, felonious assault, and assault with a deadly weapon.

Simple assault--Unlawful intentional inflicting, or attempted or threatened inflicting, of less than serious bodily injury without a deadly or dangerous weapon. The term is used in the same sense as in UCR reporting. Simple assault is often not distinctly named in statutes since it consists of all assaults not explicitly named and defined as serious. Unspecified assaults are contained in the other offenses against persons category.

Other offenses against persons--This category includes kidnaping, violent sex acts other than forcible rape (e.g., incest, sodomy), custody interference, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, reckless endangerment, harassment, and attempts to commit any such acts.

Crimes against property--This category includes burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, arson, vandalism, stolen property offenses, trespassing, and other property offenses as defined below.

Burglary--Unlawful entry or attempted entry of any fixed structure, vehicle or vessel used for regular residence, industry, or business, with or without force, with intent to commit a felony or larceny. The term is used in the same sense as in the UCR Crime Index.

Larceny--Unlawful taking or attempted taking of property (other than a motor vehicle) from the possession of another, by stealth, without force and without deceit, with intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. This term is used in the same sense as in the UCR Crime Index. It includes shop-lifting and purse snatching without force.

Motor vehicle theft--Unlawful taking, or attempted taking, of a self-propelled road vehicle owned by another, with the intent to deprive the owner of it permanently or temporarily. The term is used in the same sense as in the UCR Crime Index. It includes joyriding or unauthorized use of a motor vehicle as well as grand theft auto.

Arson--Intentional damaging or destruction by means of fire or explosion of the property of another without the owner's consent, or of any property with intent to defraud, or attempting the above acts. This term is used in the same sense as in the UCR Crime Index.

Vandalism--Destroying or damaging, or attempting to destroy or damage, the property of another without the owner's consent, or public property, except by burning.

Stolen property offenses--Unlawfully and knowingly receiving, buying, or possessing stolen property, or attempting any of the above. The term is used in the same sense as the UCR category stolen property; buying, receiving, possessing.

Trespassing--Unlawful entry or attempted entry of the property of another with the intent to commit a misdemeanor, other than larceny, or without intent to commit a crime.

Other property offenses--This category includes extortion and all fraud offenses, such as forgery, counterfeiting, embezzlement, check or credit card fraud, and attempts to commit any such offenses.

Drug law violations--Unlawful sale, purchase, distribution, manufacture, cultivation, transport, possession, or use of a controlled or prohibited substance or drug, or drug paraphernalia, or attempts to commit these acts. Sniffing of glue, paint, gasoline and other inhalants also are included; therefore, the term is broader than the UCR category drug abuse violations.

Offenses against public order--This category includes weapons offenses, non-violent sex offenses, non-status liquor law violations, disorderly conduct, obstruction of justice, and other offenses against public order as defined below.

Weapons offenses--Unlawful sale, distribution, manufacture, alteration, transportation, possession, or use of a deadly or dangerous weapon, or accessory, or attempt to commit any of these acts. The term is used in the same sense as the UCR category weapons; carrying, possessing, etc.

Sex offenses--All offenses having a sexual element, not involving violence. The term combines the meaning of the UCR categories prostitution and commercialized vice and sex offenses. It includes offenses such as statutory rape, indecent exposure, prostitution, solicitation, pimping, lewdness, fornication, and adultery.

Liquor law violations, not status--Being in a public place while intoxicated through consumption of alcohol, or intake of a controlled substance or drug. It includes public intoxication, drunkenness, and other liquor law violations. It does not include driving under the influence. The term is used in the same sense as the UCR category of the same name. (Some States treat public drunkenness of juveniles as a status offense, rather than delinquency; therefore, some of these offenses may appear under the status offense code status liquor law violations. Where a person who is publicly intoxicated performs acts which cause a disturbance, he or she may be charged with disorderly conduct.)

Disorderly conduct--Unlawful interruption of the peace, quiet, or order of a community, including offenses such as disturbing the peace, vagrancy, loitering, unlawful assembly, and riot.

Obstruction of justice--This category includes intentionally obstructing court or law enforcement efforts in the administration of justice, acting in a way calculated to lessen the authority or dignity of the court, failing to obey the lawful order of a court, and violations of probation or parole other than technical violations, which do not consist of the commission of a crime or are not prosecuted as such. It includes contempt, perjury, obstructing justice, bribing witnesses, failure to report a crime, and nonviolent resisting arrest.

Other offenses against public order--This category includes other offenses against government administration or regulation, e.g., escape from confinement, bribery, gambling, fish and game violations, hitchhiking, health violations, false fire alarms, and immigration violations.


These tables are based on figures supplied by the United States Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce and are subject to revision by the Census Bureau.

Copyright © 2006 Photius Coutsoukis and Information Technology Associates, all rights reserved.