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A Descriptive Report On The Characteristics Of Crime

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Crime refers to many types of misconduct forbidden by law. Crimes

include such things as murder, stealing a car, resisting arrest, possessing or

selling illegal drugs, appearing nude on a public street, drunken driving, and

bank robbery. The list of acts considered crimes is constantly changing. For

example, at one time, people were charged with witchcraft, but this is no longer

illegal. Today, it is becoming a serious crime to pollute the air and water.

In colonial days, pollution received little attention because it caused few

problems. During the 1700's in England it was not a crime for people to steal

money entrusted to their care by an employer. Today, this type of theft,

embezzlement, is a crime.

Crimes may be classified in various ways. For example, they sometimes

are grouped according to the seriousness of the offense, according to the

motives of the offenders. Such crimes may include economic crimes, political

crimes, crimes of passion, organized crime, and white collar crime. Crimes are

often divided between acts that most people would consider evil and acts that

lawmakers decide should be regulated in the interest of the community. The

first group includes such major crimes as arson, assault, breach of the peace,

burglary, kidnapping, larceny, murder, rape, and robbery. The second group

includes crimes of a фrapidly growing urban society.ц These crimes include

violations of income tax laws, liquor control regulations, pure food and drug

laws, and traffic laws. Crimes in the first group usually involve severe

punishments while crimes in the second group are generally punished by fines,

notices to follow the court's orders, or other relatively light penalties.

Crimes are frequently classified according to their seriousness as

felonies or misdemeanors. Generally, felonies are more serious than

misdemeanors. Under the federal criminal law system, felonies are crimes for

which the punishment is death or imprisonment for more than a year. A

misdemeanor is punishable by a fine or by imprisonment for less than a year. In

most states persons convicted of felonies are sent to state prisons, while those

quilty of misdemeanors serve their sentence in city or county jails or houses of


Crimes against people include assault, kidnapping, murder, and sexual

attacks. Such crimes usually bring severe punishments. Crimes against property

include arson, automobile theft, burglary, embezzlement, forgery, fraud, larceny,

and vandalism. In most cases, these crimes carry lighter penalties than do

crimes against persons. Robbery is the crime most difficult to classify. The

law considers robbery a crime against the person or against the property,

according to the case. Robbery may involve simply taking property from another

person. But a personal encounter occurs between the robber and his victim, and

it may include violence and bodily harm, especially in muggings or other strong-

arm robberies. Robbery is probably the crime most people have in mind when they

speak of фcrime in the streets .ц

Crimes against public order or morality include disorderly conduct,

gambling, prostitution, public drunkenness, and vagrancy. These offenses

generally involve lighter penalties than do crimes against people or property.

Criminologists question whether some offenses against public order or morality

should be considered crimes. For example, many experts believe that habitual

drunkenness is a medical problem and that the offender should be given medical

help instead of being put in jail. There is also widespread disagreement about

whether certain practices hurt society and should be considered crimes. Such

acts include gambling, use of marijuana, and homosexuality between consenting


Organized crime consists of large-scale activities by groups of

gangsters or racketeers. Such groups are often called the Ñ„crime syndicate or

the underworld.ц Organized crime specializes in providing illegal goods and

services. Its activities include gambling, prostitution, the illegal sale of

drugs, and loaning money at extremely high rates of interest. Many of these

activities are often called фvictimless crimesц because both the buyer and



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