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Publication Prosecution of Felony Arrests, 1987

Barbara Boland, Catherine H. Conly, Paul Mahanna, Ronald Sones, Lynn Warner

August 1, 1990    NCJ 124140

The 35 prosecutors' offices included in this report represent urban areas, where most crimes are committed. Felony arrest outcomes are reported for three measures: all felony arrests, cases filed, and cases indicted. The majority of felony arrests are disposed before they reach the felony court. At screening, the prosecutor may decide to decline a felony arrest for prosecution, file misdemeanor charges, or file the arrest as a felony. In the lower court, felony arrests may be dismissed, disposed as misdemeanors, or bound over to the felony court. Once cases reach the felony court, relatively few are dismissed; most end in a guilty plea or trial. Prosecutors differ in how they handle felony arrests at the three stages of felony prosecution. Also, they vary in whether they drop felony charges before or after court charges are filed. Jurisdictions vary in the extent to which they use the felony courts for the conviction of felony arrests. Where cases are convicted has important implications for the severity of sentences. The time from arrest to final court disposition varies substantially across jurisdictions. 2 figures, 10 tables, and appendix

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