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Juvenile Population Characteristics
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Juveniles in Court
Case Flow by Detailed Offense

Juvenile court processing for a typical 1,000 delinquency cases, 2020

Number of cases
Intake decision [Opens a new window]
Intake disposition [Opens a new window]
Non-petitioned cases
Other sanction
Judicial decision [Opens a new window]
Petitioned cases
Waived to criminal court
Adjudicated delinquent
Not adjudicated delinquent
Judicial disposition [Opens a new window]
Adjudicated cases
Other sanction
Non-adjudicated cases
Other sanction

Note: Detail may not sum to total due to rounding. Percents are based on unrounded values.

[ Graph version ]

  • Cases referred to juvenile court are first screened by an intake department (either within or outside the court). The intake department may decide to dismiss the case for lack of legal sufficiency or to resolve the matter formally (petitioned) or informally (nonpetitioned).
    • In 2020, 54% (543 of 1,000) of all delinquency cases disposed by juvenile courts were handled formally while 46% (457 of 1,000) were handled informally.
    • Among nonpetitioned cases, 43% (195 of 457) were dismissed at intake, often for lack of legal sufficiency. In the remaining cases (57%, or 262 of 457), youth voluntarily agreed to informal sanctions, including referral to a social service agency, informal probation, or the payment of fines or some form of voluntary restitution.
  • If the intake department decides that a case should be handled formally within the juvenile court, a petition is filed and the case is placed on the court calendar (or docket) for an adjudicatory hearing. On the other hand, the intake department may decide that a case should be removed from juvenile court and handled instead in criminal (adult) court. In these cases, a petition is usually filed in juvenile court requesting a waiver/transfer hearing, during which the juvenile court judge is asked to waive jurisdiction over the case.
    • In 2020, 49% (264 of 543 cases) of all formally processed delinquency cases resulted in the youth being adjudicated delinquent. In 50% (274 of 543) of these cases, the youth was not adjudicated and 1% (6 of 543) were judicially waived to criminal court.
  • At the disposition hearing, the juvenile court judge determines the most appropriate sanction, generally after reviewing a predisposition report prepared by the probation department. The range of options available to a court typically includes commitment to an institution; placement in a group or foster home or other residential facility; probation (either regular or intensive supervision); referral to an outside agency, day treatment, or mental health program; or imposition of a fine, community service, or restitution.
    • Youth in 27% (71 of 264) of adjudicated delinquency cases were placed in a residential facility. In another 66% (175 of 264) of these adjudicated cases, youth were placed on formal probation.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/court/JCSCF_Display.asp?ID=qa06601&year=2020&group=1&estimate=1. January 10, 2023.

Data Source: National Juvenile Court Data Archive. National Center for Juvenile Justice. Pittsburgh, PA.


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