Crimes Against the Person
Crimes against the person are often considered the most serious and may include homicide, rape, assault, kidnapping, and intimate partner violence. Each of these crimes can carry a different penalty based upon the seriousness of the crime. For example, because Ted Bundy murdered women, rather than ‘just’ assaulted, Ted was eligible for capital punishment in the U.S. The state defines the crime and the punishment.
Crimes Against Property
Property crimes are widespread and seen as less severe than crimes against the person. Property crimes may include larceny, burglary, arson, and trespassing. There are varying degrees of liability depending on the circumstances of the case.
Crimes Against Public Order
Public order crimes may not harm other people or property but impact social order. Think back to the example of feeding homeless in community’s where that is illegal. Other typical examples would be disorderly conduct, loitering, and driving under the influence. The victim is society, and the goal is to maintain social order. Many debates whether certain crimes against public order are more or less severe, but get inappropriately punished. For example, driving while intoxicated can take lives and may be more severe. However, the law will charge for vehicular manslaughter or murder if life gets taken because someone drove drunk.
Most often drug offenses can be seen as a crime against public order, but the United States reaction to illegal drug use has altered the resources of the CJ system because of the “war on drugs.” Some examples of drug offenses can be possession of illegal drugs, being high, and selling. Punishment will vary based on the drug, how much of the drug is in possession or sold, and where it gets sold.
A misdemeanor is considered a minor criminal offense that is punishable by a fine and jail time for up to one year.
A felony is an offense that is punishable by a sentence of more than one year in state or federal prison and sometimes by death.