Crimes Against the Person: Crime Classifications

Crime Against the Person

Crime against the person, often simply referred to as violent crime, is arguably the most serious species of crime addressed by the criminal law. Homicide, rape, assault and battery are all considered to be crimes against persons. These violent crimes have the potential to incur the heaviest punishment dealt out by the criminal law, up to and including the death penalty in this country for the most hateful offenses. Only a few other crimes incur penalties as heavy as crimes against the person, for example, the political crimes of high treason and grand espionage.

For the purposes of criminal law, "person" refers to the health and integrity of the body, as well as the freedom to move about willfully. Any attempt to wrongfully harm or wrongfully imprison another's person is considered to be a crime of this type.

Certainly, deliberate violence done to a person can count as crime against the person. But actual violence isn't necessarily required for something to be a crime against the person.

  • Someone who acts aggressively and threateningly, as if to make someone else believe they're about to be attacked, might be guilty of a crime against the person (assault, in this case).
  • Someone who tries to administer a lethally poisoned drink could be guilty of a crime against the person (attempted murder), even if their potential victim pours the poison harmlessly down the drain.
  • And someone who takes an unwilling hostage and demands ransom is probably committing a crime against the person (kidnapping), even if the prisoner is treated with the utmost courtesy and care.

Nobody was physically harmed in any of these examples. But threatening or attempting harm, as well as robbing people of their liberty, can qualify as crimes against persons by the criminal law.

Crime is an offense against society as a whole. But the fundamental composition of society is it's members. This is why crime directed at the health, life, or liberty of any member of society is considered by most people, and the law, to be the most heinous species of criminal activity possible.

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