This report presents statistics on person offenses (criminal homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault) handled by U.S. juvenile courts in 1985, 1998, and 2002, as well as statistics on offender characteristics and case processing.
In 2002, U.S. juvenile courts handled an estimated 387,500 delinquency cases in which the most serious charade was an offense against a person. Although the number of person-offense cases in 2002 was more than double the number in 1985, the number decreased 2 percent between 1998 and 2002. In 2002, person-offense cases accounted for 24 percent of the delinquency caseload compared with 16 percent in 1985. Although person-offense case rates have declined recently for all racial groups, the rate for Black youth remained substantially higher than the rates for whites and youth of other races. In 2002, the person-offense case rate for white youth decreased 9 percent from the peak rate in 1998 (10.4 compared to 9.5), the rate for Black youth decreased 18 percent from its 1995 peak (34.3 compared to 28.2), and the rate for youth of other races decreased 17 percent from its 1994 peak (8.1 compared to 6.7). Compared with 1985, juveniles involved in person-offense cases in 2002 were slightly younger and more likely to be female. In 2002, 64 percent of person-offense cases involved juveniles younger than 16, compared with 61 percent in 1985. Females were involved in 28 percent of person-offense cases in 2002, compared with 20 percent in 1985. Of the person-offense cases handled in 2002, 60 percent were handled formally (a petition was filed requesting an adjudicatory or transfer hearing). Of these petitioned cases, 1.3 percent (2,900) were judicially waived to criminal court, 62 percent were formally adjudicated delinquent in the juvenile justice system, and 36 percent were petitioned but not adjudicated delinquent. In 2002, of the 154,200 person-offense cases handled informally (without a petition), 45 percent were dismissed, 31 percent resulted in voluntary probation, and 25 percent resulted in other dispositions. 1 table, 3 figures