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Crime Trends in California

An Overview of Crimes in the State

Each year, in collaboration with other agencies such as the California Justice Information Services Division, Justice Data & Investigative Services Bureau, and the Criminal Justice Statistics Center, the California Department of Justice releases a study about the state’s criminal justice system.

Overall Crime Statistics

2020 was a unique year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the California Department of Justice, in 2020 there was a .08% increase in violent crime. On the other hand, property crime decreased 7.7 percent compared to the previous year. 

The homicide rate in California increased significantly (31%) compared to 2019. While other violent crimes decreased including the rape rate (-8.2%) and robbery rate (-13.8%). Motor vehicle theft rates and aggravated assault rates both increased, 19.9 and 8.8 percent respectively. Arson rates skyrocketed in 2020, increasing 43% compared to 2019.

Arrest Rates in California

The total arrest rate was 17.5 percent lower than the previous year. Both the adult and juvenile arrest rates decreased. Additionally, the total felony arrest rate decreased 5% and the misdemeanor arrest rate decreased 22.3%.

Adult Arrest Dispositions

Over 60% of adults arrested on felony charges were convicted. Probation was the most commonly given sentence. In 2020 there were 183,333 adults on probation.

As noted by the California Department of Justice this is the lowest number of adults on active probation since 1983. Overall, there was a 31.8 percent decrease in the number of adults placed on probation for a felony offense and a 48.3 percent decrease in the number of adults placed on probation for misdemeanor offenses.

Read the California Department of Justice’s full report “Crime in California 2020.”