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Felony Defendants in Large Urban Counties, 1994, Executive Summary

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1998
3 pages
Publication Series
Felony cases filed during May 1994 in the 75 largest urban counties of the United States were compared to cases filed in May 1992, and findings revealed a slightly higher proportion of drug defendants and a somewhat smaller proportion of property defendants in 1994 than in 1992.
An estimated 53,099 felony cases were filed in State courts of 75 large urban counties during May 1994; 25 percent of defendants were charged with a violent offense, usually assault or robbery. Of the felony cases, 35 percent involved drug offenses and 31 percent involved property offenses. About 85 percent of felony defendants were male. Women accounted for about 25 percent of defendants charged with a property offense other than burglary. Blacks comprised nearly 75 percent of defendants charged with robbery or a weapons offense. Whites accounted for about 75 percent of those charged with a driving-related felony. Approximately 57 percent of defendants were under 30 years of age. At the time of arrest, three in eight defendants had an active criminal justice status such as probation, release pending disposition of a prior case, or parole. About two-thirds of defendants had been previously arrested, with 39 percent having at least 5 prior arrest charges. An estimated 38 percent of defendants had at least one prior conviction for a felony. In addition, an estimated 38 percent of defendants were detained until the court disposed of their case; 56 percent of defendants with an active criminal justice status were detained until case disposition, compared to 30 percent of defendants without such a status. Released defendants were most likely to be released on personal recognizance, which accounted for 41 percent of all releases. About 25 percent of defendants had their cases adjudicated within 1 month of arrest and about 50 percent within 3 months. At the end of the 1-year study period, 87 percent of cases had been adjudicated. Roughly 62 percent of convicted defendants were sentenced within 1 day of adjudication, usually to a State prison or a local jail. The median prison sentence for defendants convicted of a violent felony was 9 years, while the median prison sentence for defendants convicted of a nonviolent felony was 3 years. 2 figures

Date Published: January 1, 1998