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Delinquency Cases in Juvenile Court, 2010

NCJ Number
Charles Puzzanchera, M.A.; Crystal Robson, M.A.
Date Published
February 2014
4 pages

This summary of data from the report on "Juvenile Court Statistics 2010" addresses the number and trend in the cases handled by the Nation's juvenile courts, the demographic characteristics of the juveniles processed, the use of detention, the intake decision, waiver to criminal court, and adjudication and disposition.


The number of delinquency cases increased steadily (61 percent) from 1985 through 1997, then decreased 27 percent from 1997 through 2010. In 2010, juvenile courts handled 17 percent more cases in 2010 than in 1985. This report shows trends for various offense categories. Regarding the demographics of juvenile offenders in 2010, females were involved in a small proportion of cases compared to males (381,900 cases compared to 986,700 involving boys). Juveniles younger than age 16 at the time of referral to court accounted for 52 percent of all delinquency cases in 2010. White youth accounted for 64 percent of the juveniles processed in 2010; Black youth, 33 percent; American Indian, 2 percent; and Asian, 1 percent. Racial disparity varied across offense categories. Detention prior to case processing differed by general offense category in 2010, with offenses against persons being most likely to involve detention. Regarding the intake decision, 20 percent of all delinquency cases were dismissed in 2010, usually due to legal insufficiency; 36 percent were handled informally; and 54 percent were processed formally. Less than 1 percent of all formally handled delinquency cases were waived to criminal court. Regarding disposition and adjudication, juveniles were adjudicated delinquent in 58 percent (428,000) of petitioned cases. Formal probation was the most severe disposition ordered in 61 percent of these cases, and 26 percent of cases were ordered to residential placement as the most severe disposition. A smaller proportion of cases received some other sanction. 5 tables and 2 figures