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The difference between violent and non-violent crimes

When an individual is charged with a crime, it can fall into two categories in regards to violence: violent and non-violent crimes. The difference between the two is evident in definition, severity and sentences. Non-violent crimes are defined as a crime where no injury or force is used on another person. Non-violent crimes are often measured in terms of loss to the victim or economic damage. Non-violent crimes are most often some type of theft or larceny.

Violent crimes, on the other hand, are considered offenses against a person. This means that another person's physical body was harmed during the committing of a crime. The way that non-violent and violent crimes are penalized is important to understand.

Examples of non-violent crimes

There is a broad spectrum of offenses that is covered by the term non-violent crimes. Most often, these are property crimes, and may include the following:

  • Bribery
  • Prostitution
  • Tax crimes, fraud and other white collar crime
  • Embezzlement, personal property arson, receipt of stolen goods or theft
  • Alcohol and drug-related crimes
  • Gambling and racketeering

These are some of the more common examples of non-violent crimes that an individual may face.

Examples of violent crimes

Violent crimes typically carry harsher penalties, and these are some common offenses:

  • Robbery
  • False imprisonment
  • Domestic violence
  • Assault and battery
  • Homicides
  • Sexual abuse and assault

If a non-violent crime is committed and it leads to violence toward another person, it may be moved up to be considered a violent crime. For example, if a person uses a gun to force another to sign a contract against his or her will, the crime has gone from non-violent to violent.

Legal punishments

There can be serious legal consequences for any type of crime, and though violent crimes may have harsher penalties, some non-violent crimes carry strict sentences for punishment. Typically, a non-violent crime will be punished with a short jail sentence or a fine, although the amount and time may increase depending on the severity of the crime and its effect on those involved.

Defenses for non-violent and violent crime

Both types of crime have defenses available, but the specific facts play into how the situation is approached. An individual may use a defense of consent or self-defense to remove or reduce the penalties that are inherent with a crime.

If you or a loved one has been convicted of any type of crime, whether violent or non-violent, you may benefit from discussing your case with an attorney. Penalties and fines may be decreased if the case is handled correctly.

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