This page, Data about delinquency cases filed with the Juvenile Court, is offered by

Data about delinquency cases filed with the Juvenile Court

This page displays data provided by the Trial Court regarding delinquency cases processed by the Juvenile Court, including data on applications for delinquency complaint, which begin the court process.

Table of Contents

Applications for Delinquency Complaint Data Trends

Skip this data visualization presentation.

Annual number of applications for complaint in Massachusetts since fiscal year 2018. Complaints in Massachusetts have declined each year for at least the past 3 years, from 11,268 in fiscal year 2018 to 7,784 in fiscal year 2020. (Data collected by the OCA from the Trial Court's public data dashboard on October 30, 2020. Download this data)

You skipped the data visualization presentation.

An application for delinquency complaint may be filed with the Clerk Magistrate's office when a police officer or other person believes a youth has committed a delinquent offense. The application for delinquency complaint includes a sworn statement of the alleged facts and is the first step in the court process.

The first visualization shows the total number of applications for delinquency complaint in Massachusetts over time. 

Applications for Delinquency Complaint Data: Demographic and Geographic Breakdowns

Skip this data visualization presentation.

Estimated percentages for the race of all Massachusetts youth, ages 12 to 17, in 2019 (Download this data; Source: EZAPOP)

You skipped the data visualization presentation.

"Demographics of applications for delinquency complaint," below, shows total applications for complaint and demographics over time. From the drop down menu, you can select a demographic indicator (race/ethnicity, gender, or age) and see the breakdown of that indicator in applications for complaint over time.

As a point of comparison, this page also includes a visualization showing the racial distribution for all Massachusetts youth (not just those in the juvenile justice system) based on U.S. Census data.

Skip this data visualization presentation.

Statewide applications for complaint are shown by race, gender, and age group for each fiscal year since 2018. Beginning in FY19, youth under 12 can no longer be arrested or prosecuted in the juvenile justice system as a result of An Act Relative to Criminal Justice Reform(Data collected by the OCA from the Trial Court's public data dashboard on October 30, 2020. Download this data)

You skipped the data visualization presentation.

Select a county to see how many applications for complaint were received that year. To change the year, select the fiscal year from the drop down menu. 

The Trial Court publishes more detailed court division-level data regarding applications for complaint on its public data dashboard.

Skip this data visualization presentation.

A heat map shows annual applications for complaint by county. The Massachusetts Juvenile Court consists of 11 divisions across the state: combining Franklin and Hampshire counties, and Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket counties along with the town of Plymouth. (Data collected by the OCA from the Trial Court's public data dashboard on October 30, 2020. Download this data)

You skipped the data visualization presentation.

Applications for Delinquency Complaint Data: Offense Type

Court cases are grouped into categories for reporting purposes, based on their corresponding chapter and section of the Massachusetts General Laws. These offense types are the same as used by the adult court system with a few exceptions: public order offenses include “school disturbance” case types, and “alcohol” is a separate category of offense for youth. For youth, sex offenses are included in the “person” offense category.

On cases containing multiple charges, the offenses are categorized by the first charge listed; additional charges may be of a different category and/or severity.  Youth 14 years or older who are accused of homicide offenses are automatically prosecuted as adults in Superior Court, rather than in the Juvenile Court, and are therefore not captured in this data.

Examples of youth offenses and corresponding offense types

Offense type Examples of offenses
Person Assault and battery, home invasion, carjacking, robbery, statutory rape
Property Larceny, unarmed burglary, arson, breaking and entering, shoplifting
Motor Vehicle Leaving the scene of property damage, operating a motor vehicle with suspended license, reckless operation of motor vehicle
Weapons Carrying a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm without license
Drug Possession of Class A or B drugs, distributing drugs or possession with intent to distribute (class A, B, C, D, E)
Alcohol Possession of alcohol under age 21
Public Order/School Disturbance Disorderly conduct, disturbing a school assembly
Skip this data visualization presentation.

Statewide applications for delinquency complaint are shown by offense type for each fiscal year since 2018. Offense types include: alcohol, drug, motor vehicle, person, public order/school disturbance, weapons, other/not available. (Data collected by the OCA from the Trial Court's public data dashboard on October 30, 2020. Download this data)

 

You skipped the data visualization presentation.

Delinquency Filings Data Trends

Skip this data visualization presentation.

Annual number of delinquency filings in Massachusetts since fiscal year 2018. Delinquency filings in Massachusetts have declined each year for at least the past three years, from 7,860 in fiscal year 2019 to 4,811 in fiscal year 2020. (Data collected by the OCA from the Trial Court's public data dashboard on October 30, 2020. Download this data)

You skipped the data visualization presentation.

A delinquency case is created if a Clerk Magistrate finds probable cause to believe that a juvenile has committed the delinquent act detailed on the application for delinquent complaint and decides to issue the delinquent complaint. Clerk Magistrates may also divert a youth instead of issuing a delinquent complaint. 

The following visualization details the number of delinquency filings over time. The drop between 2018 and 2019 is at least partially a result of changes to the law following the passage of An Act Relative to Criminal Justice Reform in July 2018. 

Delinquency Filing Data: Demographic and Geographic Breakdowns

Skip this data visualization presentation.

Estimated percentages for the race of all Massachusetts youth, ages 12 to 17, in 2019 (Download this data; Source: EZAPOP)

You skipped the data visualization presentation.

"Demographics of delinquency filings," below, shows total delinquency filings and demographics over time. From the drop down menu, you may select a demographic variable (race/ethnicity, gender, or age) of interest and see the breakdown of that variable in youth delinquency filings over time.

As a point of comparison, this page also includes a visualization showing the racial distribution for all Massachusetts youth (not just those in the juvenile justice system) based on U.S. Census data.

Skip this data visualization presentation.

Statewide delinquency filings are shown by race, gender, and age group for each fiscal year since 2018. Beginning in FY19, youth under 12 can no longer be arrested or prosecuted in the juvenile justice system as a result of "An Act Relative to Criminal Justice Reform." (Data collected by the OCA from the Trial Court's public data dashboard on October 30, 2020. Download this data)

You skipped the data visualization presentation.

Select a county to see how many delinquency filings occurred that year. To change the year, select the fiscal year from the drop down menu. 

The Trial Court publishes more detailed court division-level regarding delinquency filings on its public data dashboard.

Skip this data visualization presentation.

A heat map shows annual delinquency filings by county. The Massachusetts Juvenile Court consists of 11 divisions across the state: combining Franklin and Hampshire counties, and Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket counties along with the town of Plymouth. (Data collected by the OCA from the Trial Court's public data dashboard on October 30, 2020. Download this data)

You skipped the data visualization presentation.

Delinquency Filings Data: Offense Type

Court cases are grouped into categories for reporting purposes, based on their corresponding chapter and section of the Massachusetts General Laws. These offense types are the same as used by the adult court system with a few exceptions: public order offenses include “school disturbance” case types, and “alcohol” is a separate category of offense for youth. For youth, sex offenses are included in the “person” offense category.

On cases containing multiple charges, the offenses are categorized by the first charge listed; additional charges may be of a different category and/or severity. Youth 14 years or older who are accused of homicide offenses are automatically prosecuted as adults in Superior Court, rather than in the Juvenile Court, and are therefore not captured in this data.

Examples of youth offenses and corresponding offense types

Offense type Examples of offenses
Person Assault and battery, home invasion, carjacking, robbery, statutory rape
Property Larceny, unarmed burglary, arson, breaking and entering, shoplifting
Motor Vehicle Leaving the scene of property damage, operating a motor vehicle with suspended license, reckless operation of motor vehicle
Weapons Carrying a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm without license
Drug Possession of Class A or B drugs, distributing drugs or possession with intent to distribute (class A, B, C, D, E)
Alcohol Possession of alcohol under age 21
Public Order/School Disturbance Disorderly conduct, disturbing a school assembly

 

Skip this data visualization presentation.

Statewide delinquency filings are shown by offense type for each fiscal year since 2018. Offense types include: alcohol, drug, motor vehicle, person, public order/school disturbance, weapons, other/not available. (Data collected by the OCA from the Trial Court's public data dashboard  on October 30, 2020. Download this data)

 

You skipped the data visualization presentation.

About the Data

Data Obtained From:

The Trial Court publishes detailed court division-level data on Applications for Complaints and Delinquency Filings on its public data dashboard. The OCA collected the Application for Complaint and Delinquency Filings data presented on this page from the Trial Court's data dashboard on October 30, 2020. 

For more information on offense categorization and guidelines, refer to Table 41 in Appendix B of Massachusetts Survey of Sentencing Practices.

 

Definitions:

Calendar year: From January 1 through December 31 of the year listed. 

Diversion: A process or program designed to work with eligible juveniles as an alternative to prosecution. 

Fiscal year: From July 1 of the previous year through June 30 of the year listed. 

Gender: The Trial Court reports gender with the following options: Male, Female, and Not known (Prefer not to answer).  Data is self-reported.

Probable cause: A legal term meaning that there is more evidence to show that a crime has been committed than there is to show that a crime has not been committed.

Race/ethnicity: The Trial Court reports race and ethnicity data with the following categories: White, Black or African-American, Hispanic/Latinx and Other. The Other category is a consolidation of American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, Other, and Multirace, due to low case numbers in these groups. Youth are asked to self-identify. 

Definitions for juvenile justice terms adapted from "Kids and the Law: A User's Guide to the Juvenile Court" 4th ed. by Rebecca Pries, LMHC and Carol Rosensweig, Esq. Click here for an electronic copy and more information.

Definitions for data reporting terms from each reporting entity.

Additional Resources

Feedback