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Monday, May 15, 2017

Types of Criminal Behavior

It is conventional to draw a line between property crimes, crimes against the person, morals offenses, offenses against public order, and regulatory crimes. Social reactions depend on the type of crime. Typologies are not very systematic; but they can be illuminating. For example, there are what we might call predatory crimes--committed for money and gain; usually, the victims are strangers. These are the robberies and muggings that plague the cities and inspire much dread. There are also lesser and greater crimes of gain: shoplifting, minor embezzlements, confidence games, cheats, frauds, stock manipulations in infinite form. There are also what we might call corollary crimes--conspiracies, aiding and abetting, harboring criminals; also perjury, jail break, and the like. Much rarer are political crimes--treason, most notably; also sedition, and, in larger sense, all illegal acts motivated by hatred of the system, and which strike out against the constituted order. There are crimes of desperation--men or women who steal bread to keep from starving, addicts who steal or turn a trick to support their habit. Some crimes are thrill crimes--joyriding, shoplifting at times, acts of vandalism, and the like; some of these, too, can be little bursts of petty treason. There are crimes of passion--violence generated by thwarted love, jealousy, hatred that rises to the level of obsession. There are also crimes of addiction--crimes that arise from failure of control; crimes that stem from what some of us might consider flaws of character, or overwhelming temptation; this can be as minor as public drunkenness, or as horrific as rape. Lastly, there are what we might call subcultural crimes--acts that are defined as crimes of the big culture, yet validated in some smaller social group; Mormon polygamy in the nineteenth century, for example.

Lawrence M. Friedman, Crime and Punishment in American History, 1993

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