Different Types of Criminal Offenses

A criminal offense is an act that violates either federal, state, or municipal law. Jurisdictions have their own laws that define the crimes and classify them as felonies or misdemeanors. Maximum sentences, as well as penalties, are also set by jurisdictions.

While there are many different kinds of crimes, criminal offenses are grouped into these categories:

  • Crimes against a person
  • Crimes against property
  • Statutory crimes
  • Inchoate crimes
  • Financial crimes

Crimes Against a Person

This category is the most serious of criminal offenses. Crimes against a person are offenses that result in bodily harm or mental anguish to another human being. There are two main categories in crimes against a person, 1) homicide and 2) other violent crimes. If the physical harm to another individual is so severe that it causes death, the defendant can be charged with any of these types of homicide:

  • First-degree murder
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Vehicular homicide

Here are some examples of crimes in the other violent crimes group:

  • Assault and battery
  • Child abuse
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape and statutory rape
  • Arson
  • Child pornography
  • Civil rights violations, including hate crimes

Someone who is convicted of this type of offense can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony and incur penalties ranging from jail time to years in prison in addition to heavy fines.

Crimes Against Property

A crime against property usually involves an act that destroys another person’s property like defacing, destroying, or stealing. These criminal offenses are generally considered to be less serious than violent crimes; however, they still constitute very serious felony charges. These crimes can also include acts that unwillingly deprive an owner of property against the owner’s will. For example, arson and vandalism are crimes that destroy someone’s property while crimes that unwillingly deprive an owner of property include, but are not limited to:

  • Larceny
  • Embezzlement
  • Receiving stolen goods
  • Extortion (blackmail)
  • Robbery (combines violent crime and crime against proprety
  • Burglary
  • Industrial espionage

This category also includes crimes that are in the domain of intellectual property law., which are increasing rapidly as information becomes a stronger force in motivating theft.

Statutory Crimes

Statutory crimes are violations of specific state or federal statutes.  Statutes have been written to prohibit these crimes primarily to deter individuals from committing them. These crimes may involve either property offenses or personal offenses. Some examples of statutory crimes are alcohol-related crimes such as a DUI or selling alcohol to a minor, drug crimes, and traffic offenses.

Alcohol-Related Crimes

Alcohol-related crimes include a variety of offenses regarding how and where alcohol can be consumed, such as:

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI, DWI, OWI)
  • Open Container Violations
  • Minor in Possession of Alcohol
  • Public Intoxication
  • Underage DUI
  • Boating DUI
  • Selling and Supplying Alcohol to Minors
  • Refusing to Perform a Field Sobriety Test
  • Refusing to Perform a Breathalyzer or Provide a Blood Sample

Drug Crimes

A drug crime is any involvement in the creation or distribution of drugs, including drug possession, drug manufacturing, and drug trafficking.

Some common types of drug charges include:

Traffic Offenses

Traffic offenses include crimes that may occur while a person is driving a vehicle on public roadways. Because a DUI/DWI/OWI involves both alcohol and the use of a vehicle, it is considered both an alcohol-related crime and a traffic offense. Other traffic offenses include:

  • Driving on a suspended or revoked license 
  • Driving without a license 
  • Hit-and-run accidents
  • Reckless driving
  • Vehicular assault

When a traffic offense causes someone’s death, it can be charged as a much more serious crime such as a form of homicide.

Other Statutory Crimes

Other offenses that are in the Statutory Crimes category include:

Inchoate Crimes

Believe it or not, it is possible to be arrested and punished for a crime you didn’t commit; these are inchoate crimes. Inchoate crimes include crimes that have been initiated but have not been completed and acts undertaken in the commission of another crime. Inchoate crimes are more than simply intent. If you intend to commit a crime and initiate the first step in completing the crime, you can still be charged. For example, conspiring to commit a crime is an inchoate crime.

Here are some inchoate crimes:

  • Aiding and abetting
  • Conspiracy
  • Attempt
  • Solicitation

It’s possible for an inchoate crime such as an attempt to also be combined with the intended crime so that the inchoate crime can’t be charged or penalized independently. Others, however, such as conspiracy are separate crimes. For example, a defendant cannot be charged with attempt and murder, but could be charged with conspiracy and murder.

Financial and Other Crimes

Financial crimes, also called “white-collar crimes,” most often involve deception or fraud for financial gain. White-collar crimes get their name from the corporate officers who typically perpetrate them, anyone in any industry can commit a white-collar crime. These crimes include many types of fraud as well as:

Contact Our Raleigh Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you are charged with a criminal offense, you need experienced legal representation. Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer for your case is critical. Our team at Sandman, Finn & Fitzhugh, Attorneys at Law, has the knowledge and background to help you navigate the intricacies of the law and advocate for your rights. We strive to provide you with superior advocacy and will fight for your case. Call us to speak with an attorney 24 hours a day 7 days a week at (919) 887-8040 or contact us by completing the easy-to-use form.