You're going to trial, and you just want to know the odds. With all else being even, what does the conviction rate look like? What are the odds that you're going to be found guilty?
Before delving into the statistics, take a moment to remember that every case is different. This isn't a roll of the dice. The stark odds of a conviction take into account defendants with plenty of evidence to support them and those who have no evidence and are just hoping for a miracle. Looking at the numbers doesn't tell you how likely you are to go to jail because your case is its own case.
That said, here are some key statistics from the Bureau of Justice.
To find a rate, cases were tracked over a year. They were all felony cases. Out of them, a total of 68 percent ended with convictions. It is worth noting, though, that 11 percent of the cases did not conclude before the tracking period had come to an end. That means only 89 percent of the cases could be considered, and it is that total from which the 68 percent conviction rate is derived.
Another interesting point is that only 59 percent of those who were convicted did get felony charges. The rest, though they were convicted, only wound up with misdemeanors.
Cars, Murder, Burglary and Drugs
Wondering which cases had the highest rates? They started with a 74 percent conviction rate for those accused of motor vehicle theft, then continued to driving-related offenses, which had a 73 percent conviction rate. After that came those charged with murder, clocking in at 70 percent, and then a 69 percent conviction rate for those with burglary charges. Finally, those accused of drug trafficking had a rate of 67 percent. On the opposite side of the spectrum, people who had been charged with assault tended not to be convicted, with a rate set at merely 45 percent. That was the lowest in the study.
Again, strict odds don't tell the whole story, but they do help to show how important it is to know your legal defense options, no matter what charges you face.
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