Trends in Misdemeanor Arrests in Los Angeles, 2001-2017

This report was produced through the Research Network on Misdemeanor Justice (the “Research Network”), a project of the Data Collaborative for Justice. The Research Network is comprised of researcher-practitioner partnerships in seven jurisdictions committed to producing data, research and scholarly work on misdemeanor enforcement trends. The goal of the Network is to inform policy at the local and state levels as well as a national discourse on the role of misdemeanor enforcement in supporting public safety, trust and confidence in the criminal justice system, and racial equity.

Using data supplied by the Los Angeles Police Department and the City Attorney’s Office covering the years 2001-2017, this report summarizes the trends, demographics, and charges of misdemeanor arrests as well as filing decision and disposition outcomes at the prosecution stage.

Key Findings:

  • Arrests for vehicle-related, alcohol-related, person, property, and drug charges made up 63-70% of misdemeanor arrests in any given year.
  • Misdemeanor arrest rates fell much more slowly for women compared to men. The misdemeanor arrest rate for men declined by 39% from 2001 to 2017, and by 26% for women. In 2017, the misdemeanor arrest rate for men was 3.15 times the rate for women.
  • Juvenile arrests have fallen dramatically. At the beginning of the 2000s, 16-17-year-olds had the highest misdemeanor arrest rate. By 2017, they had the lower arrest rate among all age groups.
  • Racial disparities persist in arrests. In 2017, the arrest rate for Blacks was nearly 4.5 times higher than the White arrest rate.