Types of Crimes

In the United States, criminal laws have been outlined by state, federal and local authorities. If you have committed a crime which is defined as any illegal action, you may be subject to a fine, imprisonment or death. Criminal laws may vary by state.

Criminal actions are categorized as felonies or misdemeanors. For most felony convictions punishment will range from imprisonment for one year to life in prison. The punishment for a misdemeanor conviction could be a fine to less than a year in prison.

Punishments and fines will vary based on the type of crime committed and the state where the criminal act occurred. It is important to call a criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with any type of criminal offense. A criminal defense attorney can help answer your questions regarding your state’s criminal laws and help determine how your criminal case should be handled.

Types of Criminal Acts


Murder is the intentional or unintentional killing of another person. There are varying degrees of categories for murder.

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  • Murder in the First Degree – The premeditated or intentional act to kill someone with a premeditated plan of action is considered murder in the first degree.
  • Murder in the Second Degree – The unintentional murder of someone. For example, you are engaged in a fight and a person falls down and hits their head and dies.
  • Felony Murder – Murder occurs during the commission of a felony crime.
  • Negligent Homicide – Someone is accidently killed by another person’s negligence. For example, a person fails to stop at a stop sign and kills another person. The charge could be negligent homicide.


Kidnapping is defined as taking someone and holding them against their will. This is uncommon in the United States and these cases are given high priority status by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The most common type of kidnapping in the United State involves a non-custodial parent abducting their child.


Any type of forced sexual encounter can be considered rape. Men, women and children of all ages can be victims and the perpetrator can be a family member, friend, acquaintance or stranger.


A person may be convicted of assault if they physically injure another person. If the assault is committed with a deadly weapon in some states an individual may be charged with aggravated assault.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Driving or operating any motorized vehicle under the influence of drug or alcohols above the state established blood alcohol level is considered illegal. Different states call it a variety of names but in general you will be considered “under the influence” and can be arrested and charged with a crime. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer or dui attorney is your best defense at fighting this offense. DWI and DUI Laws may differ from state to state, such as with Texas DWI offenses and New York DWI offenses.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can include a variety of actions including: threats, physical or sexual assault, or intimidation. Victims can include children, men and women. The violence can be physical or psychological.


Extortion is any type of violence, threat, intimidation or coercive action used in an attempt to gain money or property from a business or person. Organized crime groups have used extortion for decades offering “protection” for individuals in exchange for monetary payment.


If a person enters a building or any type of structure or residence with out the owner’s permission with the goal of committing theft this is considered burglary. The owner does not have to be present and the burglar does not have to break in or enter the structure illegally.


If a person intentionally sets fire to any type of structure they may be charged with arson. Arson often occurs with other crimes such as insurance fraud. If an injury or death results from the arson the individual may be charged for additional crimes.


In most states if a person uses violence or intimidation to obtain property or possession from another person this is considered robbery. States vary in their definition of robbery and theft.  Using a deadly weapon in the course of a robbery will increase the charge to aggravated robbery.

Drug Possession

Possessing, using or distributing narcotics can result in a charge of drug possession. The state you live in, the type of drugs and the amount of drugs you possess will determine the type of penalty you may face if you are convicted of drug possession. Penalties for drug possession may be a fine or a prison sentence. If a person is arrested for possessing a large amount of drugs they may face increased penalties and be charged with not only possession but also intent to sell.


If an individual converts someone else’s money or property for their own personal gain they may be charged with embezzlement. Embezzlement most often occurs when an employee uses company funds for their own benefit.


If an individual alters or copies a form of payment in an attempt to defraud a person or business they can be charged with forgery. One of the common types of forgery is altering checks.


Solicitation is taking monetary or any other type of payment to commit a crime or any type of illegal activity. For example if someone attempts to hire another person to commit murder they may be charged with solicitation.

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