There are three main categories into which criminal offenses can be divided: crimes against persons, crimes against property, and crimes against society. Each category has its own set of rules and punishments.
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Crimes Against Persons
Crimes against persons involve the use of force or threat of force against another person and are considered the most serious type of crime.
Penalties for these offenses vary greatly but can include jail time or even death sentences in some cases. If you have been accused of a crime against a person, it is important to seek legal counsel immediately to ensure your rights are protected.
Crimes Against Property
Crimes against property involve any form of damage or destruction to another person’s property without their permission. These offenses generally yield less severe penalties than those for crimes committed against people. However, they can still be punished by fines and/or jail time, depending on the severity.
Crimes Against Society
Crimes against society involve acts that violate public morality, such as selling illegal substances or activities like gambling or prostitution that are prohibited by law. People charged with these types of offenses may face fines or jail time, depending on what state they live in and how serious their offense is deemed to be by prosecutors.
As with any other type of criminal charge, consulting a qualified lawyer is essential if you have been accused of committing an offense that could fall into this category.
Most Common Examples of Crimes Against the Person
The following are some examples of crimes against the person:
Simple assault is defined as attempting to cause harm to another person, recklessly causing injury to another person, or threatening to cause harm to someone. No actual physical contact needs to take place for an individual to be charged with this crime.
Even trying to hit someone is considered assault under the law’s eyes. This means that if two people get into an argument that leads to one trying to punch the other but not making contact, they may still face charges of simple assault.
In Pennsylvania, rape is a first-degree felony that occurs when the defendant has sexual intercourse with the victim through any of the following means:
- Threat of forcible compulsion;
- When the victim is unconscious or unaware that sexual intercourse is occurring;
- When the person has substantially impaired the victim’s power to appraise or control their conduct; or
- When the victim suffers from a mental disability rendering them incapable of consenting to sexual intercourse.
Rape and other sex crimes are severe offenses that require a strong defense strategy.
First-degree murder in Pennsylvania is an intentional killing resulting from poisoning, lying in wait, or any type of premeditated act such as shootings and stabbings. These are deliberate acts that are planned out ahead of time and involve forethought. The perpetrator must have had intent to kill the victim when committing the act.
Second-degree murder is defined as killing another person during the commission of a felony. This means that even if death was not intended, if it occurs while a felony is being committed, such as drug trafficking/dealing, robbery, carjacking, arson, or kidnapping, you can be charged with murder.
Third-degree murder is the least serious type of homicide that can be charged against an individual. This crime does not involve premeditation or intention—it is defined as an unlawful killing without either of these two elements.
The killing cannot take place during the commission of another felony (such as robbery). For example, drug delivery causing death is considered third-degree murder in Pennsylvania.
Voluntary manslaughter is the killing of another person without lawful justification, if done under sudden and intense passion or serious provocation. This could be provoked by either the victim or another person.
Finally, involuntary manslaughter is the killing of a person resulting from an unlawful or careless act. An example would be driving recklessly in a school zone and hitting a child crossing the street. Involuntary manslaughter is usually graded as a misdemeanor.
Legal Defenses to Crimes Against the Person
If you are facing criminal charges, it can be a confusing and overwhelming situation. Fortunately, there are legal defenses that may mitigate the severity of an offense or invalidate the prosecution’s case.
In cases where a successful defense is unavailable, a plea bargain can often be arranged where a defendant pleads guilty in exchange for being convicted of a less serious offense.
Common defenses include:
Self-defense is when an individual uses force to protect themselves from imminent harm. Any force used must be proportionate to the danger being faced.
An alibi is when a person provides evidence that they were somewhere else at the time of an alleged crime, thus making it impossible for them to have committed the crime.
Consent is when someone knowingly agrees to participate in activities that would otherwise constitute criminal acts, such as certain sexual activities.
Contact a West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer If You’ve Been Charged With a Crime Against the Person
If you’ve been charged with a crime against the person or any type of criminal offense, contact DiCindio Law, LLC to schedule a free consultation.