Every year the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, compiles crime statistics from across the country and publishes the results. The results of this data is known as the crime index or the National Uniform Crime Report. The index provides a specific list of crimes that are measured each year and reported.
Not all crimes are included on the index or the report. Instead, the FBI has narrowed its list to eight primary crimes that data is collected for and reported. While the FBI is responsible for making the annual report of the crime index or report, they rely on the data collected from local and state law enforcement agencies in order to publish law enforcement trends and safety guides.
In an effort to provide a uniform approach to law enforcement, the index helps create standards for defining each crime across jurisdictions. This also allows the FBI to provide meaningful statistics to the population by comparing the types of crime in the index that appear to be categorized, defined and charged similarly across the states.
What are the Eight Crimes that are Listed in the Crime Index?
The Eight crimes are divided into two categories: violent crime and property related crime. These 8 have been consistently studied across jurisdictions and have been reported each year for several years.
- Forcible Rape;
- Aggravated Assault;
- Larceny-theft; and
- Motor Vehicle Theft.
Because the first four crimes are considered the most serious, they are reported with the most reliability and almost always to police before other agencies.
What is the National Uniform Crime Report?
The National Uniform Crime Report is published annually by the FBI and include the crime index. The report includes a variety of criminal statistics including other theft based crimes such as counterfeiting, forgery and embezzlement as well as other misdemeanor crimes such as public drunkeness, vandalism, etc.
The report is only compiled using the data that is reported voluntarily by local and state law enforcement agencies; the FBI does not collect it’s own data for reporting.
What Other Data is Collected for Crime Reporting?
Other areas of interest in law enforcement data gathering by the FBI include:
- Rate of occurrence or number of police or other law enforcement agents who are killed in the line of duty.
- Hate crime trends including number of incidents related to race, gender, religion, nationality, religion, etc.
- Cargo theft reporting including imported and exported goods that are transported nationally and in or around U.S. waterways.
How Does Uniform Crime Reporting Affect the Community?
As a resident in the U.S., you can research or gauge the safety of your residential area, workplace neighborhood or school area where your child will attend based on the data reported and the crime index.
Many organizations use the index to determine how safe a particularly geographical area is based on the index. You can use this information to make decisions about buying the right house, school choice for a child, or how to commute to your job to best protect yourself and your family.
How Does Uniform Crime Reporting Affect Me as a Defendant?
If you have been charged with an index crime, particularly a violent index crime, your bail review conditions and possible penalties, if convicted, can be influenced by the index.
In many cases, you may be charged with a variety of crimes even if you only committed one act. Depending on which crime you plea to or which crime you are ultimately convicted of can greatly impact your life.
Areas of the criminal process that are affected by the index can include:
- Whether you are released on bail or bond due to the severity of the crime charged;
- Whether the crime charged will be treated as a misdemeanor or felony;
- Minimum jail sentences that may ordered;
- Whether you will qualify for probation or parole;
- Whether you will have to register on a sex offender registry and what class of offender; and/or
- Whether you will be treated as a repeat offender, depending on how the crime is categorized.
Because the index can influence the way local law enforcement investigates and how it is prosecuted, the way the index is categorized can affect how states handle your case.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Me with an Index Crime?
An experienced criminal defense lawyer familiar with your state’s criminal laws can help defend you. A lawyer can advise you of your rights and explain how the crime index or National Uniform Crime Report impacts your case.
A lawyer can prepare your case including any defenses that my be available to you and represent you in court. Violent crime offenses are serious charges and it is recommended that you consult an experienced lawyer immediately upon arrest or being charged to ensure your rights are protected.