Journal of Law & Family Studies
Criminal justice scholars agree that the process cannot adequately be captured simply by reporting guilty pleas, jury acquittals and convictions. Rather, one must imagine a giant cornucopia, the large end representing the huge mass of unreported and uncleared crimes, the small end representing the small number of convicted felons sentenced to prison. Between these terminal points can be found all those criminals the police decide not to arrest or refer for prosecution, all those cases prosecutors decide not to prosecute, the cases prosecutors decide to dismiss (or "nolle prosequi," often referred to as "nol pros") after they have been filed, prosecutions judges dismiss for lack of probable cause or because the prosecutor violated some legislatively or constitutionally required practice, and the negotiated guilty pleas prosecutors and defense counsel arrange (usually with accompanying sentences).
Robert Levy, The Dynamics of Child Sexual Abuse Prosecution: Two Florida Case Studies, 7 J.L. & Fam. Stud. 57 (2005), available at http://scholarship.law.umn.edu/faculty_articles/467.