Trends in Misdemeanor Arrests, Referrals, and Charges in Seattle

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.

This report documents trends in misdemeanor arrests, referrals, and charges in Seattle from 2008-2016. The report reflects arrest, referral, and charge data for adults age 18-65. It includes analyses by age, sex, and race/ethnicity as well as Seattle’s five police precincts and micro-communities

Key Findings:

  • Arrests, referrals, and charges for misdemeanors in Seattle have steadily decline from 2008 to 2016. This general decline in arrests, referrals, and charges mirrors a similar decline for felonies.
  • The rates of arrest, referrals, and charges are higher for Black and indigenous groups.
  • Misdemeanor arrest rates have decreased steadily for all age categories. The 18-20 age category saw the most significant decline.
  • The rate of misdemeanor dismissals was higher than convictions from 2008 to 2015. There was a decrease in the rate of dismissals and convictions from 2008 to 2016 while the rate of acquittals remained steady over the study period.