Often times people wonder why only a small amount of the crimes reported to the police make it to court. This division of the cases is due to one of the major problems of the criminal justice system, case attrition. Cases can be dissolved at various points in the criminal justice system so the end result is that there are thousands that do not make it to court.
Examples of things that can cause cases to be dissolved are plea bargaining, lack of evidence causing a case to completely fall apart, and the fact that sometimes cases are just seen as not worth wasting time on in an already overloaded criminal justice system. When viewing a diagram of case attrition it has the view of a top heavy, upside down pyramid. An example of a case that would not make it to court is a rape in which the victim could not provide a description of the person who attacked them, and there was no physical evidence of a rape when a rape kit was preformed.
Case attrition has an effect on the criminal justice system in that sometimes things that are reported are not legally defined as a crime, therefore it cannot be taken to court to be prosecuted until laws are changed. Case attrition also allows the police to use discretion when doing their jobs. Discretion varies from officer to officer and agency to agency. Sometimes agencies have protocol that officers must follow their agencies protocol when enforcing crimes.