If you judged by television shows or movies, you might get the idea that crime is the major preoccupation of American life. But just how often do crimes occur and which ones occur most commonly?
It is actually a bit difficult to determine because this is a big country with many jurisdictions and compiling the data is not easy. Still, the Federal Bureau of Investigations does just this every year, issuing a report about the previous year's criminal activity around the country based on reports from law enforcement authorities. Let's look at some of the highlights of the Bureau's release in 2015.
Violent Crime Defined
It's also difficult to say what is the most common crime because offenses are not all compared against each other. Rather, they are compared to other like offenses. As such, property crimes are quantified together, while violent crime comprises another category.
In the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, violent crime consists of four offenses:
- Murder and non-negligent manslaughter
- Aggravated assault
Violent crimes are defined in the UCR Program as those offenses that involve force or threat of force
Most Common Violent Crimes
The FBI warns against making too much of the numbers in a vacuum, saying that a simplistic analysis -- without knowing more about the factors that contribute to their creation -- can result in a distorted or incorrect view of what is happening. Nonetheless, the agency does do some quantification for us.
The figures on 2015 won't be available until next September, so here are some highlights from its latest report:
- In 2014, there were an estimated 1,165,383 violent crimes nationwide, slightly down from the previous year but nearly 7 percent below the 2010 level and nearly 16 percent below the 2005 level.
- Aggravated assaults accounted for 63.6 percent of violent crimes reported to law enforcement.
- Robberies accounted for 28 percent of total violent crime.
- Rape accounted for 7.2 percent of violent crime.
- Murder accounted for 1.2 percent of violent crime.
The FBI also has some interesting information about the use of weapons in violent crime. The Bureau reports that firearms were used in 67.9 percent of murders. Two in every five robberies involved a gun, as did 22.5 percent of aggravated assaults. It should be noted that weapons data is not collected for rape.
If you have been accused of a violent crime or any other, speak to a lawyer. An attorney can help you cultivate a defense or negotiate a plea. Get guidance.