A handful of murder trials get extensive media coverage each year for a variety of reasons. In November 2021 the two hot trials are the State of Wisconsin vs Kyle Rittenhouse and State of Georgia vs Travis and Greg McMichael and William Bryan
I'm just curious how many murder cases go to trial in a given year, but I'm not having much luck. The best I could come up with was an estimate based on reported arrests and the likely percentage of a murder arrest going to trial.
In 2019 the FBI reported 7,964 arrests for murder or nonnegligent manslaughter however I don't know if this includes state cases. As far as the percentage that go to trial, I can only find anecdotal evidence that it's less than ten percent. For the sake of argument I'm just going to assume that five percent are decided by a jury and there were 8,000 murder charges filed in 2019, giving a total of 400 murder trials for the year.
8,000 x 5% = 400
400 seems high to me. It could be close, but I think it's backwards way of getting the answer when you consider the thorough records that must be kept for each courthouse. Unfortunately it doesn't appear that this information is readily shared and compiled with other jurisdictions, so if anyone can shed any light, that'd be great. Thanks!
I just think it would be interesting to know. It's easy to see why the trials I mentioned get so much attention due to political and social intrigue, but I can't help but wonder what else is going on. Not necessarily murder, but I'm interested in the things that aren't high profile too.
UPDATE: I found some data that doesn't quite answer my question but definitely sheds some light on the subject. It is a data table from the US Courts website. It provides the exact type of data that I am interested in, but it doesn't provide data for murder specifically. It is very interesting though.
A couple highlights link to google sheets:
Percentage of defendants who pled guilty:
- 2020: 90%
- 1990: 71%
Percentage of all defendants who went to trial:
- 2020 2%
- 1990 14%
Acquittal Rate for defendants on trial in 2020
- Bench Trial: 36% (75/207)
- Jury Trial: 10% (124/1218)