Non-Violent vs. Violent Crimes

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What are Non-Violent Crimes?

Non-violent crimes are those crimes that do not involve the use of any force or injury to another person.  The seriousness of a non-violent crime is usually measured in terms of economic damage or loss to the victim. 

Most non-violent crimes involve some sort of property crime such as larceny or theft.

What are Violent Crimes?

Violent crimes or violent offenses involve the use of force or injury to the body of another person.  The seriousness of a violent crime is usually determined by the degree of physical harm caused to the victim.  The use of a weapon can raise the seriousness of the crime. 

Some crimes are classified as violent crimes even if the plaintiff was not injured, for example crimes that involve the threat of injury to the person.  Also, the characteristics of the victim can alter the seriousness of the charges, for example, if a police officer, woman, or child was the victim of the violence.

What are Some Examples of Non-Violent and Violent Crimes?

Non-violent crimes can cover a broad spectrum of offenses.  They usually involve some sort of “property crime” resulting in damage to another person’s property. 

Some of the more common non-violent offenses may include: 

Violent crimes are also called “offenses against the person”, meaning that the physical body of another person was harmed.  Common violent offenses include:

Some non-violent crimes are often raised to a level of violence.  For example, it is common for fraud, a non-violent crime, to involve some form of violence.  This can happen if the fraud was forced under threat of harm or coercion (i.e., forcing a person to sign a contract under threat of harm to them or their loved ones). 

Are the Legal Punishments Different for Violent Crimes vs. Non-Violent Crimes?

Both non-violent crimes and violent crimes can result in serious legal consequences.  In general violent crimes usually result in stiffer penalties.  However, there are some non-violent crimes that are also punished very strictly.

Non-violent crimes are usually punishable by a fine or short jail sentence.  The fines or incarceration sentence may increase with the severity of the non-violent crime.

Violent crimes usually result in more severe legal punishments than non-violent crimes, including higher fines and longer incarceration periods in a prison facility. 

Defenses may be available for the defendant in both violent and non-violent crimes.  A properly raised defense, such as self-defense or consent, can drastically reduce or even remove the legal penalties associated with a crime. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Violent or Non-Violent Crimes?

If you are facing criminal charges, you have the right to a criminal attorney.  A criminal defense lawyer can help represent you in court, whether you are facing charges for a violent offense or a non-violent offense.  Criminal laws may vary widely by state, so you may wish to ask your lawyer if you have questions regarding the laws of your jurisdiction.  

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Last Modified: 07-07-2011 02:35 PM PDT

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