Understanding The Four Types Of Crimes

In the U.S. criminal law system, there are four core kinds of crimes. These are personal, property, incomplete, and statutory offenses. In each instance, the prosecution faces certain challenges in trying to prove their case. This article will take a look at each one from the perspective of someone who provides criminal law services.

Personal Crimes

A personal offense is one where the defendant is accused of wanting to harm another individual. For example, a criminal assault charge arises because there was some degree of intent to hurt the victim. In these cases, the alleged goal of the defendant was to cause physical damage, pain, or suffering. The list of personal crimes includes things like battery, assault, rape, kidnapping, and homicide. Manslaughter may also land under this heading.

Unsurprisingly, the system takes an especially dim view of these kinds of cases. Fortunately for defendants, the physical nature of the alleged offenses means that a defense can often be built based on the lack of direct evidence.

Property Crimes

As the name suggests, property offenses occur when someone acts in a way that deprives another of either possession or enjoyment of their property. All the theft-related offenses are property crimes, including larceny, burglary, embezzlement, and receiving stolen items. Forgery and floating bad checks are also classified as property crimes, and theft of services is as well because the items in question don't always have to be tangible. Destruction of property is this type of offense, too.

Notably, property crimes committed with the threat or application of violence may overlap with personal offenses. The classic case of this kind of crime is robbery.

Incomplete Crimes

Some offenses require completion, while others merely require an attempt in order to be charged. Attempted anything obviously falls under this heading, such as attempted murder. Conspiracy charges also tend to fit this billing, as do solicitation charges.

Generally, prosecutors don't like to pursue charges of incomplete crimes unless they have a lot of evidence to back them up. These cases are usually built on communications. Code words frequently feature in these cases, especially when dealing with drug, gang, or prostitution offenses.

Statutory Crimes

These are offenses where the law imposes a line for certain behavior. For example, driving under the influence is defined by having a certain blood-alcohol content level. Selling alcohol or tobacco to a minor is defined by the age of majority, as are many cases of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

To learn more about a particular kind of crime and defense, work with a criminal law attorney.