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Data In-Depth

The Charges

By Bea Malsky, Jared Rutecki, Emily Hoerner, Forest Gregg, Trina Reynolds-Tyler, Jean Cochrane, Hannah Cushman Garland and Abby Blachman


This is a detailed breakdown of more than 3 million criminal cases filed in Cook County between 2000 and 2018. That’s more than 400 cases per day.

In a first-of-its-kind project, The Circuit collected and cleaned millions of records from the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s mainframe computer system. We then analyzed these cases and organized them based on the top, or most serious, charge.

The charts below show the number of cases that prosecutors filed broken down into major categories, from battery and possession of deadly weapons to disorderly conduct and violating controlled substances laws. They also distinguish between misdemeanor charges and felony charges within those categories.

Click each category below to see a more detailed breakdown of the types of cases that fall within that category. For example, if you click homicide, you’ll see a steady decline in first-degree murder charges since 2000. If you click burglary , you’ll see that most of these cases are felonies.

Read more about how we did this work.

  • Felony
  • Misdemeanor

Click column titles to sort. Click arrows on left to expand offense descriptions.

Offense CategoryTotal CasesCases Over Time

Battery

532,830 cases

What is it?

Intentionally causing bodily injury or making harmful contact with another individual.

Read more about Battery

What does our data show?

Domestic battery cases remain the most used within this offense category. But reflecting the steady decrease in overall cases across Cook County, domestic battery cases have decreased by more than 40% between 2000 and 2018. While the number of aggravated domestic battery cases is significantly smaller, cases in which that was the top charge have increased significantly in that time.

Controlled Substances Act

430,806 cases

What is it?

Production, distribution and/or possession of certain narcotics and other drugs.

Read more about Controlled Substances Act

What does our data show?

Drug cases under the Controlled Substances Act dropped by about two-thirds from 2000 to 2018. The vast majority of these cases, about 95%, are felonies.

Other Offenses

412,468 cases

What is it?

A catchall category for cases that don’t fit into the other categories, from violating an order of protection to unlawful use of body armor.

Read more about Other Offenses

What does our data show?

This category includes felony and misdemeanor cases in which the top charge does not fall into the Illinois State Police’s categorized charges or cases in which we were unable to discern which charge the court data referred to.

Criminal Damage and Trespass to Property

384,482 cases

What is it?

Damaging or entering the property of another person without permission.

Read more about Criminal Damage and Trespass to Property

What does our data show?

Trespassing is a misdemeanor in most cases, except those involving nuclear facilities or sports, theater or entertainment venues. Misdemeanor criminal trespass cases have dropped by 70% since 2005, but the small number of felony cases has remained steady. Trespassing differs from burglary in that it does not involve theft or another felony.

Cannabis Control Act

351,665 cases

What is it?

Possession, manufacture or sale of marijuana.

Read more about Cannabis Control Act

What does our data show?

Much, though not all, of this law was made moot when marijuana was legalized in 2020, though police continued to make arrests for possession of more than the legally allowed amount or illicit distribution, according to The Chicago Reporter. The number of marijuana cases reached a peak of about 28,000 in 2007 — or more than 75 each day — before dropping by more than 80% in the years since. About half of the cannabis-related cases we found were for misdemeanor possession of 10 to 100 grams, while another third of cases were for possession of less than 10 grams. A 2016 law signed by Bruce Rauner that decriminalized possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana was followed by a decrease in low-level possession cases in Cook County.

Theft

325,569 cases

Assault

118,027 cases

Disorderly Conduct

92,175 cases

Motor Vehicle Offenses

73,960 cases

Deadly Weapons

72,437 cases

Deceptive Practices

67,271 cases

Sex Offenses

56,981 cases

Burglary

53,530 cases

Interference with Public Officers

49,052 cases

Robbery

34,124 cases

Drug Paraphernalia Control Act

29,264 cases

Gambling

26,418 cases

Motor Vehicle Theft

15,340 cases

Liquor Control Act Violations

13,700 cases

Offenses Involving Children

11,194 cases

Homicide

7,812 cases

Criminal Sexual Assault

7,646 cases

Violation of Criminal Registry Laws

7,399 cases

Burglary or Theft From Motor Vehicle

4,190 cases

Kidnapping

3,046 cases

Hypodermic Syringes and Needles Act

2,264 cases

Arson

1,510 cases

Methamphetamine Offenses

1,419 cases

Intimidation

1,193 cases

Offense categories with fewer than 750 total cases are not shown.