Statistical Briefing Book > Youth in Court Previous Page
Delinquency Cases
Q: Do delinquency case rates vary by age and offense?
A: Delinquency case rates generally increase with the age of the youth; however, within offense categories, there are variations in the pattern of age-specific case rates.

Cases per 1,000 youth in age group, 2020

Age at referral Person Property Drugs Public order
10 0.41 0.29 0.02 0.14
11 1.11 0.66 0.07 0.40
12 2.54 1.61 0.27 1.10
13 4.72 3.46 0.74 2.40
14 6.67 5.91 1.47 3.97
15 8.42 8.30 2.46 5.59
16 9.25 9.42 3.94 6.84
17 8.85 9.25 5.21 6.91

The COVID-19 pandemic, which began in March 2020, may have impacted the policies, procedures, and data collection activities regarding referrals to and processing of youth by juvenile courts for an indeterminate period of time. Additionally, stay-at-home orders and school closures likely impacted the volume and type of law-violating behavior by youth referred to juvenile court.

  • Case rates for drug offenses increased continuously through age 17, while case rates for person, property, and public order offense cases peaked at age 16 in 2020.
  • The increase in case rates between age 13 and age 17 was sharpest for drug offenses. In 2020, the drug offense case rate for 17-year-olds was seven times the rate for 13-year-olds.
  • For public order offenses, the case rate for 17-year-olds was nearly three times the rate for 13-year-olds; for person offenses, the rate for 17-year-olds was nearly twice the rate for 13-year-olds.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/court/qa06202.asp?qaDate=2020. Released on December 22, 2023.

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