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The NCJRS Abstracts Database contains abstracts of more than 200,000 criminal justice, juvenile justice, and substance abuse resources housed within the NCJRS Library. Search the NCJRS Abstracts Database for resources on this topic.
Courts Programs at a Glance
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Millions of cases are filed in local, state, tribal, and federal courts each year. Most court systems include trial courts, which hear criminal and civil cases; appellate courts, which review cases decided at the trial court level; and at least one supreme court, which is the court of last resort within a judiciary system.

Fast Facts

  • 99,921 defendants were charged in federal court cases in 2010. Of these defendants, 3,047 were charged with violent offenses, 17,463 with property offenses, 29,493 with drug offenses, 12,579 with public-order offenses, 7,989 with weapon offenses, and 29,016 with immigration offenses (334 are missing or unknown case types).[1]

  • In 2009, about 270,000 cases were filed in state appellate courts, while state trial courts reported 106 million incoming trial court cases. The types of cases filed in state trial courts included an estimated 58.0 million traffic or ordinance violations, 20.7 million criminal, 19.5 million civil, 5.8 domestic relations, and 2.0 million juvenile cases.[2]

  • In 2006, state courts sentenced an estimated 69% of all individuals convicted of felonies to incarceration: Approximately 41% were sentenced to state prison and 28% to county jails, with an average sentence length of 4 years, 11 months. Twenty-seven percent of convicted offenders were sentenced to probation with no prison or jail time and 4% to community service or an alternative sentence.[3]

  • In 2002, over half of the federally recognized American Indian tribes in the lower 48 states had a formal tribal court. An estimated 59% (188) of the 314 tribes had some form of judicial system. These included about 175 tribes having general jurisdiction courts, 91 appellate courts, 80 juvenile courts, and 51 family courts.[4]

  • There were 3,648 specialty jurisdiction or problem-solving courts, which include drug, family, mental health, domestic violence, and veterans courts, as of December 31, 2009. Additionally, as of December 31, 2009, every state in the U.S, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico had at least one drug court in operation, for a total of 2,459 drug courts nationwide.[5]


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OJP Publications

Improving the PDQ Database To Enhance Investigative Lead Information From Automotive Paints, NIJ-Sponsored, 2016

Tribal Crime Data Collection Activities, 2016, BJS, July 2016
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Down the Road - Testing Evidence in Sexual Assaults, NIJ, June 2016
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Environmental Scan of Developmentally Appropriate Criminal Justice Responses to Justice-Involved Young Adults, NIJ, June 2016

Evaluation & Research Literature: The State of Knowledge on BJA-Funded Programs, FY 2016, BJA-Sponsored, June 2016

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Questions and Answers

Where can I access the two part training entitled What Every Law Enforcement Officer Should Know about DNA Evidence?
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Where can I find information about restorative justice programs?
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What is the Federal Government doing to combat human trafficking?
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