This report presents data on the number and demographics of juveniles processed for criminal law violations in U.S. juvenile courts in 2013, as well as the following features of their processing: detention, intake decision, adjudication and disposition, and waiver to criminal court.
In 2013, U.S. juvenile courts processed nearly 1.1 million delinquency cases that involved juveniles charged with criminal law violations. From 1985 through 1997, the number of delinquency cases increased steadily (62 percent) and then declined 44 percent from 1997 through 2013. Juvenile courts processed 9 percent fewer cases in 2013 than in 1985. This overall pattern of increase followed by decline resulted from trends in various offense categories combined. Just over a quarter of the delinquency caseload in 2013 consisted of females. In 2013, the racial disparity in delinquency cases varied across offense categories, with white youth accounting for a larger proportion of drug-offense cases and Black youth accounting for a larger proportion of person-offense cases. Juveniles younger than age 16 at the time of referral to court composed 53 percent of delinquency cases processed. In most cases, the juvenile was not detained (79 percent in 2013). Eighteen percent of all delinquency cases were dismissed at intake, generally for lack of legal sufficiency. An additional 27 percent of cases were handled informally. Juvenile court judges waived jurisdiction over an estimated 4,000 delinquency cases, sending them to criminal court. This was 1 percent of all formally processed cases. Formal probation was the most severe disposition ordered in 64 percent of the cases in which the juvenile was adjudicated delinquent, and 24 percent were ordered to residential placement as the most severe disposition. 5 tables and 2 figures