U.S. Department of Justice, Office Of Justice Programs, Innovation - Partnerships - Safer Neighborhoods
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Working for Youth Justice and Safety
OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book logo jump over products navigation bar
OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book logoAbout SSBFrequently Asked QuestionsPublicationsData Analysis ToolsNational Data SetsOther ResourcesAsk a Question

Juvenile Population Characteristics
Juveniles as Victims
Juveniles as Offenders
Juvenile Justice System Structure & Process
Law Enforcement & Juvenile Crime
Juveniles in Court
Juveniles on Probation
Juveniles in Corrections
Juvenile Reentry & Aftercare
Statistical Briefing Book Home

OJJDP logo

Printer-priendlyPrinter-friendly
Juveniles in Court
Manner of Handling
Q: Has the juvenile courts' formal delinquency caseload grown?
A: Since reaching a peak in 1997, the number of formally processed delinquency cases declined 30% through 2010.

Delinquency cases by manner of handling, 1985-2010

Year Formal Informal

1985 530,100 638,500
1986 574,400 633,400
1987 571,300 636,800
1988 595,900 624,500
1989 637,300 612,900
1990 673,200 667,600
1991 736,000 730,900
1992 778,800 757,500
1993 825,700 746,800
1994 903,800 807,800
1995 978,200 848,400
1996 1,032,100 839,400
1997 1,051,100 827,400
1998 1,033,300 764,000
1999 995,900 736,900
2000 973,100 736,300
2001 951,900 733,700
2002 951,100 728,000
2003 947,500 736,400
2004 928,200 756,400
2005 925,500 753,800
2006 905,900 724,900
2007 904,900 727,300
2008 886,800 728,200
2009 802,600 681,800
2010 733,200 635,000

[ Graph version ]  [ Excel file ]

  • A juvenile court intake officer or prosecutor determines whether to handle a delinquency case formally or informally. They may decide to dismiss the case for lack of legal sufficiency or to resolve the matter informally. Informal dispositions are voluntary and include referral to a social agency for services, informal probation, or some form of restitution.
  • Formal processing involves the filing of a petition requesting that the court hold an adjudicatory or waiver hearing. A waiver hearing could result in the juvenile court waiving its jurisdiction in the case, transferring the matter to criminal court. At an adjudicatory hearing the youth may be adjudicated (judged) delinquent and the case would proceed to a disposition hearing. If the youth is not adjudicated, the case is generally dismissed but the youth may be asked to take some actions, such as making restitution or voluntarily attending drug counseling, prior to the final adjudication decision.
  • The number of formally processed delinquency cases declined 30% between 1997 and 2010. In comparison, during that period the total delinquency caseload fell 27% and the number of informally handled cases declined 23%.
  • Since 1989, formal cases have comprised a larger share of the delinquency caseload than informal cases. In 2010, there were 15% more formal than informal delinquency cases.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/court/qa06401.asp?qaDate=2010. Released on April 17, 2013.

Adapted from Juvenile Court Statistics 2010 (forthcoming). Pittsburgh, PA: National Center for Juvenile Justice.

 

USA.gov | Privacy | Policies & Disclaimers | FOIA | Site Map | Ask a Question | OJJDP Home
A component of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice