“Crimes against the person” is a blanket phrase that is used to label crimes that involve individual victims. Unlike victimless crimes such as possession of illegal narcotics or driving on a suspended license, crimes against the person are offenses that directly harm specific people. The individuals who are the subject of the crime are known as complainants or victims.
A crime against the person can be a misdemeanor or felony depending upon the severity of the offense. Each state’s criminal code outlines which crimes against the person are felonies or misdemeanors and what their maximum penalties are. Some crimes against the person may come in both misdemeanor and felony formats depending on the extent of the harm and the level of culpability. For example, there are multiple forms of homicide, a crime against the person. However, premeditated murder carries a harsher penalty than vehicular manslaughter.
Right to Confrontation
Victims must testify at the trial in a crime against the person case. Victims are required to testify in person because the 6th Amendment gives defendants a right to confrontation. The right to confrontation means the defendant has the ability to confront his or her accuser in court to defend against the charges.
Victim Impact Statement
If a defendant is convicted of a crime against the person offense, the defendant will be sentenced at the sentencing hearing. The complainant will be given the opportunity to speak about how the crime impacted his or her life and what punishment he or she believes is just. This is known as a victim impact statement.
Examples of Crimes Against the Person
Defenses to Crimes Against the Person
Defenses exist, though the exact defenses available to you will depend upon the charges you are facing and the exact circumstances of your case. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you craft a defense strategy.
Seeking Legal Help
If you made a mistake or were wrongfully accused, you need the guidance of an expert criminal defense attorney who understands the law, your options, and your potential defenses. You have rights, and your criminal defense attorney can help you ensure the police, the prosecutor, and the court respects these rights.