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Felony Defendants

• An estimated 57,497 felony cases were filed in the state courts of the nation's 75 largest counties during May 2004.

• About a fourth of these felony defendants were charged with a violent offense, usually assault (12.0%) or robbery (5.4%). Those charged with murder (0.6%) or rape (0.9%) accounted for a small percentage of defendants overall.

• About three-fourths of defendants were charged with a nonviolent felony. The most frequently charged nonviolent offenses were drug trafficking (15.0%), other drug offenses (21.6%), burglary (7.9%), and theft (7.8%).

• Thirty-nine percent of defendants had an active criminal justice status at the time of the current charged offense, including 16% who were on probation, 11% on pretrial release, and 5% on parole.

• Fifty-nine percent of all defendants were convicted of a felony, and 9% were convicted of a misdemeanor.

• The highest felony conviction rates were for defendants charged with motor vehicle theft (74%), a driving related offense (73%), murder (70%), burglary (69%), or drug trafficking (67%).

• The lowest felony conviction rates were found among assault defendants (45%).

• Ninety-seven percent of convictions occurring within 1 year of arrest were obtained through a guilty plea. About 9 in 10 guilty pleas were to a felony.

• Murder defendants (25%) were the most likely to have their case adjudicated by trial.

• Overall, 75% of the defendants whose most serious conviction charge was a felony were sentenced to incarceration. Nearly all of the remaining convicted defendants received a probation sentence.


Information Provided by the Bureau of Justice Statistics

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