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Juvenile Court Statistics: 1985-2011


Glossary

Adjudication Judicial decision Petitioned case
Age Judicial disposition Race
Delinquent act Juvenile Referral offense
Detention Juvenile Court Upper age of juvenile court jurisdiction
Disposition Nonpetitioned case Youth population at risk
Intake decision Petition  
Adjudicated [back to top]
Judicial determination (judgment) that a juvenile is or is not responsible for the delinquency or status offense charged in a petition.
Age [back to top]
Juvenile's age at the time the case was referred to juvenile court.
Delinquent act [back to top]
An act committed by a juvenile for which an adult could be prosecuted in a criminal court, but when committed by a juvenile is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. Delinquent acts include crimes against persons, crimes against property, drug offenses, and crimes against public order, as defined under Referral offense, when such acts are committed by juveniles.
Detention [back to top]
The placement of a juvenile in a restrictive facility between referral to court intake and case disposition.
Disposition [back to top]
Definite action taken or treatment plan decided upon or initiated regarding a particular case. Case dispositions are coded into the following categories:
  • Waived to Criminal Court - Cases that were transferred to criminal court as the result of a waiver hearing in juvenile court.
  • Placement - Cases in which youth were placed in a residential facility for delinquents, or cases in which youth were otherwise removed from their homes and placed elsewhere.
  • Probation - Cases in which youth were placed on informal/voluntary or formal/court-ordered probation or supervision.
  • Dismissed - Cases dismissed (including those warned, counseled, and released) with no further action anticipated. Among cases handled informally, some cases may be dismissed by the juvenile court because the matter is being handled in another court.
  • Other - A variety of miscellaneous actions not included above. This category includes fines, restitution and community services; referrals outside the court for services with minimal or no further court involvement anticipated; and those dispositions coded as "Other" by the reporting courts.
Intake decision [back to top]
The decision made by juvenile court intake that results in either the case being handled informally at the intake level or being petitioned and scheduled for an adjudicatory or waiver hearing.
  • Petitioned (formally handled) cases are those that appear on the official court calendar in response to the filing of a petition or other legal instrument requesting the court to adjudicate the youth delinquent or to waive the youth to criminal court for processing as an adult.
  • Nonpetitioned (informally handled) cases are those cases that duly authorized court personnel screen for adjustment without the filing of a formal petition. Such personnel include judges, referees, probation officers, other officers of the court, and/or an agency statutorily designated to conduct petition screening for the juvenile court.
Intake decision [back to top]
The decision made by juvenile court intake that results in either the case being handled informally at the intake level or being petitioned and scheduled for an adjudicatory or waiver hearing.
Judicial decision [back to top]
The decision made in response to a petition that asks the court to adjudicate or waive the youth. This decision is generally made by a juvenile court judge or referee.
Judicial disposition [back to top]
The disposition rendered in a case after the judicial decision has been made.
Juvenile [back to top]
A youth at or below the upper age of juvenile court jurisdiction.
Juvenile Court [back to top]
Any court that has jurisdiction over matters involving juveniles.
Petition [back to top]
A document filed in juvenile court alleging that a juvenile is a delinquent and asking that the court assume jurisdiction over the juvenile or asking that an alleged delinquent be waived to criminal court for prosecution as an adult.
Race [back to top]
The race of the youth referred as determined by the youth or by court personnel.
  • White - A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East. (In both the population and court data, nearly all Hispanics were included in the white racial category.)
  • Black - A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.
  • American Indian - A person having origins in any of the indigenous peoples of North America, including Alaskan Natives.
  • Asian/NHPI - A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, Hawaii, or any of the other Pacific Islands.
Referral offense [back to top]
The most serious offense for which the youth was referred to court intake. Attempts to commit an offense were included under that offense except attempted murder, which was included in the aggravated assault category.
  • Crimes Against Persons - This category includes criminal homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault, and other person offenses as defined below.
    1. Criminal Homicide - Causing the death of another person without legal justification or excuse. Criminal homicide is a summary category, not a single codified offense. The term, in law, embraces all homicides where the perpetrator intentionally killed someone without legal justification, or accidentally killed someone as a consequence of reckless or grossly negligent conduct. It includes all conduct encompassed by the terms murder, nonnegligent (voluntary) manslaughter, negligent (involuntary) manslaughter, and vehicular manslaughter. The term is broader than the Index Crime category used in the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) in which murder/nonnegligent manslaughter does not include negligent manslaughter nor vehicular manslaughter.
    2. Forcible Rape - Sexual intercourse or attempted sexual intercourse with a female against her will by force or threat of force. The term is used in the same sense as in the UCR Crime Index. (Some States have enacted gender-neutral rape or sexual assault statutes that prohibit forced sexual penetration of either sex. Data reported by these States do not distinguish between forcible rape of females as defined above and other sex assaults.) Other violent sex offenses are contained in Other Offenses Against Persons.
    3. Robbery - Unlawful taking or attempted taking of property that is in the immediate possession of another by force or the threat of force. The term is used in the same sense as in the UCR Crime Index and includes forcible purse snatching.
    4. Assault - Unlawful intentional inflicting, or attempted or threatened inflicting, of injury upon the person of another.
      1. Aggravated Assault - Unlawful intentional inflicting of serious bodily injury, or unlawful threat or attempt to inflict bodily injury or death, by means of a deadly or dangerous weapon with or without actual infliction of any injury. The term is used in the same sense as in the UCR Crime Index. It includes conduct included under the statutory names aggravated assault and battery, aggravated battery, assault with intent to kill, assault with intent to commit murder or manslaughter, atrocious assault, attempted murder, felonious assault, and assault with a deadly weapon.
      2. Simple Assault - Unlawful intentional inflicting, or attempted or threatened inflicting, of less than serious bodily injury without a deadly or dangerous weapon. The term is used in the same sense in UCR reporting. Simple assault is often not distinctly named in statutes since it consists of all assaults not explicitly named and defined as serious. Unspecified assaults are contained in Other Offenses Against Persons.
    5. Violent Sex Offenses - This category includes unlawful sexual acts or contact, other than forcible rape, between members of the same sex or different sexes against the will of the victim with use or threatened use of force or attempting such act(s). Includes incest where the victim is presumed to be incapable of giving consent.
    6. Other Offenses Against Persons - This category includes kidnapping, custody interference, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, reckless endangerment, harassment, etc., and attempts to commit any such acts.
  • Crimes Against Property - This category includes burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, arson, vandalism, stolen property offenses, trespassing, and other property offenses as defined below.
    1. Burglary - Unlawful entry or attempted entry of any fixed structure, vehicle, or vessel used for regular residence, industry, or business, with or without force, with intent to commit a felony or larceny. The term is used in the same sense as in the UCR Crime Index.
    2. Larceny - Unlawful taking or attempted taking of property (other than a motor vehicle) from the possession of another, by stealth, without force and without deceit, with intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. This term is used in the same sense as in the UCR Crime Index. It includes shoplifting and purse snatching without force.
    3. Motor Vehicle Theft - Unlawful taking, or attempted taking, of a self-propelled road vehicle owned by another, with the intent to deprive the owner of it permanently or temporarily. The term is used in the same sense as in the UCR Crime Index. It includes joyriding or unauthorized use of a motor vehicle as well as grand theft auto.
    4. Arson - Intentional damaging or destruction by means of fire or explosion of the property of another without the owner's consent, or of any property with intent to defraud, or attempting the above acts. The term is used in the same sense as in the UCR Crime Index.
    5. Vandalism - Destroying or damaging, or attempting to destroy or damage, the property of another without the owner's consent, or public property, except by burning.
    6. Stolen Property Offenses - Unlawfully and knowingly receiving, buying, distributing, selling, transporting, concealing, or possessing stolen property, or attempting any of the above. The term is used in the same sense as the UCR category stolen property; buying, receiving, possessing.
    7. Trespassing - Unlawful entry or attempted entry of the property of another with the intent to commit a misdemeanor, other than larceny, or without intent to commit a crime.
    8. Other Property Offenses - This category includes extortion and all fraud offenses, such as forgery, counterfeiting, embezzlement, check or credit card fraud, and attempts to commit any such offenses.
  • Drug Law Violations - Unlawful sale, purchase, distribution, manufacture, cultivation, transport, possession, or use of a controlled or prohibited substance or drug, or drug paraphernalia, or attempt to commit these acts. Sniffing of glue, paint, gasoline, and other inhalants are also included; hence, the term is broader than the UCR category drug abuse violations.
  • Offenses Against Public Order - This category includes weapons offenses; nonviolent sex offenses; liquor law violations, not status; disorderly conduct; obstruction of justice; and other offenses against public order as defined below.
    1. Weapons Offenses - Unlawful sale, distribution, manufacture, alteration, transportation, possession, or use of a deadly or dangerous weapon, or accessory, or attempt to commit any of these acts. The term is used in the same sense as the UCR category weapons; carrying, possessing, etc.
    2. Nonviolent Sex Offenses - All offenses having a sexual element not involving violence. The term combines the meaning of the UCR categories prostitution and commercialized vice and sex offenses. It includes offenses such as statutory rape, indecent exposure, prostitution, solicitation, pimping, lewdness, fornication, adultery, etc.
    3. Liquor Law Violations, Not Status - Being in a public place while intoxicated through consumption of alcohol, or intake of a controlled substance or drug. It includes public intoxication, drunkenness, and other liquor law violations. It does not include driving under the influence. The term is used in the same sense as the UCR category of the same name. (Some States treat public drunkenness of juveniles as a status offense, rather than delinquency; hence, some of these offenses may appear under the status offense code status liquor law violations. Where a person who is publicly intoxicated performs acts that cause a disturbance, he or she may be charged with disorderly conduct.)
    4. Disorderly Conduct - Unlawful interruption of the peace, quiet, or order of a community, including offenses called disturbing the peace, vagrancy, loitering, unlawful assembly, and riot.
    5. Obstruction of Justice - This category includes intentionally obstructing a court (or law enforcement) in the administration of justice, acting in a way calculated to lessen the authority or dignity of the court, failing to obey the lawful order of a court, and violations of probation or parole other than technical violations, which do not consist of the commission of a crime or are not prosecuted as such. It includes contempt, perjury, obstructing justice, bribing witnesses, failure to report a crime, nonviolent resisting arrest, etc.
    6. Other Offenses Against Public Order - This category includes other offenses against government administration or regulation, e.g., escape from confinement, bribery, gambling, fish and game violations, hitchhiking, health violations, false fire alarms, immigration violations, etc.
Upper age of juvenile court jurisdiction [back to top]

The oldest age at which a juvenile court has original jurisdiction over an individual for law-violating behavior. From 1987 through 1992, the upper age of jurisdiction was 15 in three States (Connecticut, New York, and North Carolina), 16 in eight States (Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, South Carolina, and Texas), 18 in one state (Wyoming), and 17 in the remaining 38 states and the District of Columbia.

On July 1, 1993, the upper age of jurisdiction was decreased in Wyoming from 18 to 17. On January 1, 1996, the upper age of jurisdiction for both New Hampshire and Wisconsin was decreased from 17 to 16.

It must be noted that within most States there are exceptions to the age criteria that place or permit youth at or below the State's upper age of jurisdiction to be under the original jurisdiction of the adult criminal court. For example, in most States if a youth of a certain age is charged with one of a defined list of what are commonly labeled "excluded offenses," the case must originate in the adult criminal court. In addition, in a number of States, the district attorney is given the discretion of filing certain cases either in the juvenile court or in the criminal court. Therefore, while the upper age of jurisdiction is commonly recognized in all States, there are numerous exceptions to this age criteria.

Youth population at risk [back to top]

For delinquency and status offense matters, this is the number of children from age 10 through the upper age of jurisdiction. In all States the upper age of jurisdiction is defined by statute. In most States individuals are considered adults when they reach their 18th birthday. Therefore, for these States, the delinquency and status offense youth population at risk would be the number of children 10 through 17 years of age living within the geographical area serviced by the court.

For the actual populations, see the Population at risk topic of the Methods section.