The criminal justice system in the United States has for long divided criminal offenses based on the use of violence. This division results in two broad categories of criminal offenses, i.e., violent and non-violent crimes. This post discusses violent and non-violent crimes giving examples of each.
To better understand violent crimes, we must define violence. In criminology, violence is defined as the act by a person(s) that deliberately endanger or attempt to endanger or physically harm another person(s).
Therefore, violent crimes are offenses that involve the hurting or threatening to hurt the victim. Most violent criminal offenses entail the use of a weapon. But in some cases, the victim may be threatened without the use of a weapon.
In criminal justice, violent crimes are also known as “crimes against the person.” The extremity of violent crime is determined by the level of harm to the victim.
When classifying the crime, police officers will consider the motive of the criminal. For example, if the motive was to harm the victim, the crime is categorized as a violent crime.
Examples of violent criminal offenses are:
- Domestic violence
- Sexual abuse/assault, e.g., rape
- Alcohol and drug-related violence
Crime against the person occurs at home, streets, places of work, and entertainment joints. You should never forget that the law prohibits any person from harming or threatening another.
Non-violent crimes are the complete opposite of violent crimes. They are offenses that inflict no harm or threat to the victim.
Unlike in violent crimes, the extent of the crime is calculated based on economic loss or damage caused to the victim’s property. Thus, non-violent offenses are generally called property offenses.
Examples of non-violent crimes are:
- Traffic offenses, e.g., DUI, overspeeding
- Tax offenses
Sentences for violent crimes vs. non-violent crimes
American laws tend to be stricter on violent crimes than non-violent ones. This is probably because violent crimes involve a threat to human life, so they should attract hefty punishments.
Normally criminals convicted of violent crimes are sentenced to state and federal prisons. And, sentence to community supervision is beyond the reach of violent offenders.
On the other hand, the punishments for non-violent offenses are usually by imposing fines or restitution. In some cases, the perpetrators are sentenced to jail or on probation.
Legal assistance for violent and non-violent offender
The law allows violent and non-violent offenders to seek legal help whenever charged. The good thing with legal representation is that if the lawyer makes a good submission, your case may be overturned or the sentence reduced.