• 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
• 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
• 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.