BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

clear image
Home  |  About Us  |  Contact Us  |  Help  |  A-Z Topic List
Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
clear image
Home | Courts | Criminal Cases | Juvenile defendants
Juvenile defendants
On This Page
About this Topic

Dataset from 40 urban counties used to describe the characteristics of more than 7,000 juveniles charged with felonies in state courts. The findings indicated that prosecution of juveniles in criminal court is generally reserved for those charged with the quite serious crimes of murder, robbery, and aggravated assault.

Juvenile defendants in criminal courts

Under certain circumstances, juvenile defendants (as defined by state law) can be considered adults and tried in criminal courts. A BJS study conducted in 40 of the nation's largest urban counties found--
  • An estimated 7,100 juvenile defendants were charged with felonies in adult criminal court in 1998.
  • In criminal courts in these 40 counties, juveniles (64%) were more likely than adults (24%) to be charged with a violent felony.
  • These juvenile defendants were generally treated as serious offenders, as 52% did not receive pretrial release, 63% were convicted of a felony, and 43% of those convicted received a prison sentence.
  • States have expanded the mechanisms by which juveniles can be charged in criminal courts. In 1998, statutory exclusion was the most common method (42%) used to charge juveniles defendants compared to the more traditional use of juvenile waiver (24%).
  • About two thirds (66%) of the juvenile felony defendants in the 40 large counties were convicted, either of a felony or a misdemeanor. Of those convicted, 64% were sentenced to jail or prison as the most serious penalty. The average prison sentence received was 90 months.
  • In  the 40 counties in 1998, 62% of the juvenile felony defendants were black, 20% were white, 16% were Hispanic, and almost 2% were of another race.

Publications & Products

Census of Problem-Solving Courts, 2012 Describes type, location, and characteristics of all known problem-solving courts active in 2012.
  Summary (PDF 217K) | Full report (PDF 1.1M) | ASCII file (37K) | Comma-delimited format (CSV) (Zip format 37K)

Juvenile Victimization and Offending, 1993-2003 "Nation's younger teens experienced largest decrease in crime victimizations between 1993 and 2003"
  Press Release | More information about this release

Juveniles Prosecuted in State Criminal Court Presents findings from the 1994 BJS National Survey of Prosecutors and other BJS statistical series, as well as data collected by the National Center for Juvenile Justice on juveniles proceeded against in State criminal courts.
  Full report (PDF 312K) | ASCII file (26K) | Codebooks and Datasets

Terms & Definitions

Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) or Criminal History Record Information System A record (or the system maintaining such records) that includes individual identifiers and describes an individual's arrests and subsequent dispositions. Criminal history records do not include intelligence or investigative data or sociological data, such as drug use history. CHRI systems usually include information on juveniles if they are tried as adults in criminal courts. Most, however, do not include data describing involvement of an individual in the juvenile justice system. All data in CHRI systems are usually backed by fingerprints of the record subjects to provide positive identification. State legislation varies concerning disclosure of criminal history records for noncriminal justice purposes.
Indian country jails Indian country adult and juvenile detention centers, jails, and other correctional facilities operated by tribal authorities or the Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Jail inmates Offenders confined in short-term facilities that are usually administered by a local law enforcement agency and that are intended for adults but sometimes hold juveniles before or after adjudication. Jail inmates usually have a sentence of less than 1 year or are being held pending a trial, awaiting sentencing, or awaiting transfer to other facilities after a conviction.
Juvenile Justice Record Official records of juvenile justice adjudications. Most adult criminal history record systems do not accept such records, which are frequently not supported by fingerprints and which are usually confidential under state law. Pursuant to an order dated July 15, 1992, the FBI now accepts and will disseminate juvenile records on the same basis as adult records. States, however, are not required to submit such records to the FBI.
Related Links