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State Felony Courts and Felony Laws

NCJ Number
P A Langan
Date Published
6 pages
This pamphlet presents the results of a 1985 census of the Nation's 3,235 felony courts and of a separate review of the felony laws of the 50 States and the District of Columbia.

A total of 1.5 million felony cases were filed in 1985, and approximately 69 percent of all dispositions resulted in convictions. The 75 largest counties accounted for 16 percent of reported crime, 23 percent of all arrests, and 38 percent of all felony court filings and convictions. About half the counties had fewer than 100 felony case filings and fewer than 70 convictions each. Arrests in the South were more likely to result in prosecution and conviction in a felony court than arrests in other regions. The review of State laws in effect in 1986 determined that the term 'felony' is not uniform in either its usage or definition. Maine, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia do not use the term to classify criminal offenses, and nine other jurisdictions offer no explicit definition of the term even though they use it as a criminal designation. In the 39 States that use and define the term felony, there are common elements in felony definitions. Tables present felony definitions by State and the District of Columbia as well as minimum and maximum felony sentences. 6 tables.