Case Dispositions for Arraigned and Continued Cases in New York City in 2019

After an arrest, a person’s first appearance in court (“arraignment”) can have significant consequences for the trajectory of their criminal case. At arraignment, a judge may decide to dismiss the case, a prosecutor may decide to drop charges, or the individual charged with a crime may decide to enter a guilty plea and move to sentencing. However, if the case is not resolved at arraignment, the judge will make a pretrial release decision (e.g., release on recognizance, set bail, or remand to jail) and the case will be resolved at a later date, by dismissal, guilty plea, or trial.

This brief uses data from the New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA) to examine dispositions for cases resolved and continued at arraignment in New York City criminal courts in 2019. Additionally, we look at how case dispositions vary by borough, charge severity and charge category, and by race/ethnicity, age, and sex. The findings from this brief can supplement previous research on arraignment outcomes in New York City.

Key Findings:

  • Overall:
    • In New York City, 25% of the 167,219 criminal court arraignments in 2019 were resolved at arraignment, ranging from 13% in Staten Island to 32% in the Bronx.
    • Violations and Marijuana charges were most likely to be resolved at arraignment (55%) while felonies (1%) and Person charges were least likely (3%).
    • White people (29%), 55-64-year-olds (32%), and men (27%) had the largest proportions of cases resolved at arraignment.
  • Variation in Guilty Pleas:
    • Overall, 63% of cases resulted in a guilty plea at arraignment, ranging from 24% in Brooklyn to 84% in Staten Island.
    • Felonies (70%) and Vehicle and Driving charges (87%) were most likely to result in a guilty plea at arraignment.
    • Black people (65%), 45-54-year-olds (75%), and men (66%) had the largest proportions of guilty pleas at arraignment.
  • Variation in Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD):
    • Overall, 32% of cases resulted in an ACD at arraignment, ranging from 8% in Staten Island to 38% in Brooklyn.
    • Violations (64%) and Marijuana charges (59%) were most likely to be resolved as ACD at arraignment.
    • White people (31%), 18-20-year-olds (51%), and women (43%) had the largest proportions of ACDs at arraignment.
  • Variation in Dismissals:
    • Overall, 5% of cases were dismissed at arraignment, ranging from 2% in Manhattan to 7% in the Bronx.
    • Felonies (10%) and Person charges (52%) were most likely to be dismissed at arraignment.
    • Black people, 18-20-year-olds, and women had the largest proportions of dismissals at arraignment (5%, 8%, and 8%, respectively) and post-arraignment (41%, 40%, and 45%, respectively).