Data about juvenile court arraignments

This page provides data on youth arraignments (formal charging in court) in Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Youth Arraignment Data Trends

An arraignment is the formal reading of charges against the youth in court. In Massachusetts, youth are arraigned as either a "Delinquent Child" or indicted as a “Youthful Offender.”  A youthful offender is a youth between the ages of 14 and 18 who is indicted by a grand jury (group of 23 adults) and can receive an adult sentence and/or commitment to DYS to age 21. Youthful offender cases are heard in juvenile court. Following arraignment, a youth has an official juvenile record.

Youth Arraignment Data: Demographic and Geographic Breakdowns

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Estimated percentages for the race of all Massachusetts youth, ages 12 to 17, in 2020. (Source: EZAPOPDownload this data.)

"Demographics of arraignment occurrences", below, shows arraignments and the demographics of youth who are arraigned over time. From the drop down menu, you can select a demographic variable (race, gender or age) of interest and see the breakdown of that variable in youth arraignments over time. 

You can also look at either the total number of arraignments in a given category, or the percent change in arraignment occurrences in that category year over year. The visualization breaks down arraignments by court county as well. 

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. 

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Statewide youth arraignments are shown by race, gender and age group for each fiscal year since 2018.  Beginning in 2018, youth under 12 can no longer be arrested or prosecuted.

Below, select a county to see how many arraignments occurrences took place that year or use the drop down menu to see the change in number of arraignment occurrences from the previous year. You can also use the drop down menu to view the number of arraignment occurrences in each court county per 10,000 youth (ages 12-17) in that county. To change the year, select the fiscal year from the drop down menu. 

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A heat map shows annual arraignment occurrences 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.

Youth Arraignment Data: Offense Type

Arraignments 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 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

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Statewide arraignment occurrences are shown by offense type for each fiscal year since 2018.


About the Data

Data Obtained From:

Data collected by the OCA from the Trial Court's public data dashboard on 11/14/2023.

Juvenile population data is sourced from Easy Access to Juvenile Populations (EZAPOP), a data analysis tool available through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)’s Statistical Briefing Book. The population estimates provided are derived from data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and subsequently modified by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). To learn more about the data click here


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Arraignment: The procedure by which the youth is brought before a court of law to answer criminal or delinquent charges.

Arraignment occurrences: An occurrence is defined as one arraignment event. If the youth was arraigned for delinquencies once in January, then again for other delinquencies in March, that would count as 2 occurrences.

Clear and Convincing Evidence: a stricter standard of proof in civil cases than fair preponderance of the evidence. There is not a precise definition, but the judge must have less doubt and therefore a firmer belief about the decision.

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

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

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. 

Date published: November 2, 2020
Last updated: November 2, 2020

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