Juvenile Justice Bulletin Banner 2006

J. Robert Flores, Administrator

December 2006

Juvenile Arrests 2004

Howard N. Snyder


What Do Arrest and Clearance Statistics Count?

The number of juveniles murdered in 2004 was near the 25-year low

The juvenile share of crime in 2004 was less than in the mid-1990s

Juvenile arrests for violence in 2004 were the lowest since 1987; juvenile arrests for property crimes in 2004 were the lowest in at least three decades

Most arrested juveniles were referred to court

In 2004, juvenile arrest rates for murder, forcible rape, and robbery were at or near their lowest levels since at least 1980; the same was not true for the juvenile arrest rate for aggravated assault

Juvenile arrest rate trends for the four offenses that make up the Property Crime Index show very different patterns over the 1980–2004 period, bringing the utility of the Index into question

In 2004, 30% of juvenile arrests involved females

Juvenile arrests disproportionately involved minorities

Selected arrest rate trends

State data

Data source note


NCJ 214563

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.

This Bulletin was prepared under cooperative agreement number 2005–JF–FX–K022 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.


A Message From OJJDP

Juvenile Arrests 2004 summarizes and analyzes national and state juvenile arrest data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s report Crime in the United States 2004. The Bulletin provides baseline information for monitoring the nation’s progress in addressing juvenile crime.

In 2004, the juvenile arrest rate for Violent Crime Index offenses decreased for the tenth consecutive year, falling to half its 1994 peak and reaching its lowest level since at least 1980. The rate for each of the Violent Crime Index offenses—murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault—has declined steadily since the mid-1990s. Between 1995 and 2004, the reduction in the number of violent crime arrests was greater for juveniles (31%) than adults (14%). Juvenile arrest rates for Property Crime Index offenses also declined in 2004, reaching their lowest level in at least three decades.

The large declines in the Violent Crime and Property Crime Indexes from the mid-1990s through 2004 indicate a broad-based and general reduction in the delinquent behavior of America’s youth. While such statistical trends in juvenile crime are encouraging, problems remain. For example, between 1980 and 2004, juvenile arrest rates for drug abuse and weapons law violations increased substantially. During the same period, juvenile arrest rates for simple assault increased more than twice as much for females as for males.



This Bulletin was written by Howard N. Snyder, Ph.D., Director of Systems Research at the National Center for Juvenile Justice, with funds provided by OJJDP to support the National Juvenile Justice Data Analysis Project. The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance provided by the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division.

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