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What is the Crime Index?

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What Is the Crime Index?

The Crime Index is an annual study of crime rates and occurrences. It is conducted by the FBI each year for the purpose of comparing criminal law statistics in order to create more uniformity among state statutes. Differences in how a defendant is charged can yield very inconsistent results in terms of sentencing and other factors. 

Thus, the crime index helps create standards and definitions for both serious and non-serious crimes.

Which Crimes Are Listed as Index Crimes?

Generally speaking, the FBI combines eight different crimes for study in order to create its Crime Index. These are the crimes that are most commonly and consistently reported each year. They usually include:

  • Murder
  • Non-negligent Manslaughter
  • Forcible Rape
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Burglary
  • Larceny
  • Motor Vehicle Theft

Taking these major crimes, law enforcement authorities then run comparisons among state and local statutes to determine if there are any discrepancies or inconsistencies in the way these crimes are prosecuted.

How Does the Crime Index Affect Me?

It’s important to know how the Crime Index might affect you if you have a criminal record or you’re facing criminal charges. Many state criminal laws and policies are directly influenced by the Federal Crime index. For example, many jurisdictions gauge the seriousness of a crime based on how it’s listed each year in the Crime Index. 

In turn, this can affect various other aspects for that crime, including sentencing options, parole and probation offenses, and details regarding repeat offenders. Also, the Crime Index can affect definitions for “wobbler offenses”, which are those that can either be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony.

The legal punishments for felony are much more severe when compared to those for misdemeanors. If you feel that you are involved with these kinds of legal distinctions, it may be necessary to work with your own criminal defense attorney rather than the one provided by the state.

Do I Need a Lawyer If I’ve Been Involved with an Index Crime?

Facing charges for an Index Crime can often draw much attention, since these are the most commonly reported types of crimes. You may wish to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your area if you need help with a criminal case. Your attorney can advise you on how the Crime Index may be affecting your criminal case. A qualified lawyer can provide you with representation and may be able to assist you with sentencing options. 

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 06-25-2018 11:31 PM PDT

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