Criminal profiling is a process used by police authorities to help identify an unknown criminal suspect.  Police investigators may use a wide range of evidence from related cases to create a profile of a possible suspect for.  This is done by identifying the possible characteristics and mindset of a person who may have committed the crime in question.

Criminal profiling is common in cases involving repeat offenses of the same type.  The suspected person may have committed the crime in a recognizable manner or pattern, thus leaving the police with clues for identifying the suspect.  The police can gather their information from a variety of sources, such as crime scene evidence, forensic evidence, and characteristics of criminals who have committed the same type of crime.

What Types of Characteristics are Considered when Creating a Criminal Profile?

Investigators attempt to “recreate” the suspect using physical evidence such as footprints, fingerprints, or other bodily indicators.  They may also consider the facts surrounding the crime to reconstruct the events leading up to the crime.

When creating the criminal profile, police investigators may try to determine the suspect’s:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Mental or psychological traits
  • Cultural or religious beliefs
  • Intelligence quotient (I.Q.)

Police authorities will then use the criminal profile to try and to find a “match” amongst various suspects.

How do Police Gather Information for Criminal Profiling?

The police will usually consider four stages of the crime to gather as much information that they can about a possible suspect.  These four stages include:

  • Pre-offense behavior: plans or motives the suspect may have had before the crime was committed
    Method: the manner in which the crime was actually committed
  • Concealment of evidence:  If the suspect concealed or disposed of evidence, this can provide clues as to the suspect’s identity
  • Post-offense conduct: A suspect may often act differently after committing a crime

These stages of criminal conduct can provide police with valuable information that can lead to identifying the suspect.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Criminal Profiling?

The rules governing criminal profiling may differ in each locality.  Some regions favor the use of criminal profiling due to the advantages it can offer police forces.  For example, the use of criminal profiling techniques can often save time and resources, as it tends to narrow down the range of suspects being searched for.

On the other hand, criminal profile is sometimes considered socially unacceptable.  For this reason, many jurisdictions employ criminal profile only sparingly.  Many persons feel that criminal profile is limited and can lead to misidentification (i.e., incarcerating an innocent person).  Police may often have only a limited set of facts with which to create a criminal profile.

Also, many argue that criminal profiling has been based on stereotypes, especially with regards to a suspect’s race, cultural background, and religious beliefs.  Many criminal identifications have been challenged in court due to suspicion that the criminal profile was based on stereotype rather than hard facts.

Should I Hire a Lawyer if I have Issues Regarding Criminal Profiling?

Criminal profiling can sometimes be a necessary part of the criminal justice system.  However, if you feel that you have been wrongfully involved in criminal charges, you may wish to contact a criminal defense lawyer for assistance.  An attorney can help determine whether you were wrongfully identified in a criminal case.