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Juveniles in Court
Petitioned Status Offense Cases
Q: What are the characteristics of petitioned status offense cases handled by juvenile courts?
A: Females accounted for 44% of the estimated 57,700 petitioned status offense cases handled by juvenile courts in 2020, youth under age 16 accounted for 60%, and white youth accounted for 60%.

Characteristics of petitioned status offense cases handled by juvenile courts, 2020

Most serious offense Number
of cases
Percent of cases handled by juvenile courts
Female Under 16 White1 Black1 American
Asian/NHPI1 Hispanic
Total* 57,400 44% 60% 60% 22% 4% 3% 12%
Runaway 6,500 55% 55% 45% 42% 2% 2% 10%
Truancy 33,400 45% 66% 59% 19% 4% 3% 14%
Curfew 2,800 31% 56% 55% 33% 3% 1% 9%
Ungovernable 4,800 45% 66% 61% 33% 1% 1% 5%
Liquor law violations 6,000 42% 31% 72% 7% 10% 2% 10%

* Includes other offenses not shown.
1Excludes persons of Hispanic ethnicity. Persons of Hispanic ethnicity can be of any race.

Note: Percents are based on unrounded numbers.

It is important to note that 2020 was the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which may have impacted policies, procedures, and data collection activities regarding referrals to and processing of youth by juvenile courts. Additionally, stay-at-home orders and school closures likely impacted the volume and type of law-violating behavior by youth referred to juvenile court in 2020.

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  • Status offenses are acts that are illegal only because the persons committing them are of juvenile status.
  • In 2020, females accounted for more than half (55%) of all runaway cases, 31% of all curfew violation cases, and 40% or more of all other status offense cases.
  • Youth under age 16 accounted for more than 60% of truancy and ungovernability cases in 2020.
  • With the exception of runaway cases, white youth accounted for at least half of petitioned status offenses cases in 2020.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/court/qa06603.asp?qaDate=2020. Released on January 10, 2023.

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


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