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This Bulletin is part of the Juvenile Offenders and Victims National Report Series. Published every 4 years, the National Report offers a comprehensive statistical overview of the problems of juvenile crime, violence, and victimization and the response of the juvenile justice system. During each interim year, the Bulletins in the National Report Series provide access to the latest information on juvenile arrests, court cases, juveniles in custody, and other topics of interest. Each Bulletin in the series highlights selected topics at the forefront of juvenile justice policymaking, giving readers focused access to statistics on some of the most critical issues. Together, the National Report and this series provide a baseline of facts for juvenile justice professionals, policymakers, the media, and concerned citizens.


June 2003

Juveniles in Court

Melissa Sickmund

A Message From OJJDP

Most young law violators enter the juvenile justice system through law enforcement agencies

State statutes define who is under juvenile court jurisdiction

All states allow juveniles to be tried as adults in criminal court under certain circumstances

The Juvenile Court Statistics series details the activities of U.S. juvenile courts

Juvenile courts handled 1.8 million delinquency cases in 1998—about the same as in 1997

Delinquency caseloads for both males and females have increased sharply in recent years

Black juveniles were referred to juvenile court at a rate more than double that for white juveniles

All age groups contributed to delinquency caseload increases between 1989 and 1998

Most delinquency cases do not involve detention between referral to court and disposition

Formal case handling was more likely in 1998 than in 1989, and more cases were adjudicated

Most adjudicated delinquency cases in 1998 resulted in residential placement or formal probation

The processing of delinquency cases varied more by offense than by gender

The juvenile court’s use of judicial waiver has changed over the past decade

Convicted transfers did not always receive harsher sanctions than adults received

Those who begin offending as young children are more likely to become violent offenders

The formal status offense caseload differs substantially from the delinquency caseload


NCJ 195420

This Bulletin was prepared under cooperative agreement number 95–JN–FX–K008 from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice.

Points of view or opinions expressed in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of OJJDP or the U.S. Department of Justice.


This Bulletin was written by Melissa Sickmund, Senior Research Associate at the National Center for Juvenile Justice, with funds provided by OJJDP to support the Juvenile Justice Statistics and Systems Development Program and the National Juvenile Justice Data Analysis Program.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office for Victims of Crime.

Access OJJDP publications online at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ojjdp

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