Crime in the United States

Crime in the United States has been recorded since colonization. Crime rates have varied over time, with a sharp rise after 1963, reaching a broad peak between the 1970s and early 1990s. Since then, crime has declined significantly in the United States,[1] and current crime rates are approximately the same as those of the 1960s.[2]

Statistics on specific crimes are indexed in the annual Uniform Crime Reports by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and by annual National Crime Victimization Surveys by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.[3] In addition to the primary Uniform Crime Report known as Crime in the United States, the FBI publishes annual reports on the status of law enforcement in the United States.[2] The report's definitions of specific crimes are considered standard by many American law enforcement agencies.[4] According to the FBI, index crime in the United States includes violent crime and property crime.[5] Violent crime consists of four criminal offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault; property crime consists of burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson.[5]

United States
Crime rates* (2016)
Violent crimes
Aggravated assault248.5
Total violent crime386.3
Property crimes
Motor vehicle theft236.9
Total property crime2,450.7

*Number of reported crimes per 100,000 population.

 Estimated total population: 323,127,513.
In 2013 the FBI modified the definition of rape.

Source: Crime in the United States by Volume and Rate per 100,000 Inhabitants, 1997–2016 (Table 1)

Crime over time

Property Crime Rates in the United States
Property crime rates in the United States per 100,000 population beginning in 1960. Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics.

In the long term, violent crime in the United States has been in decline since colonial times. The homicide rate has been estimated to be over 30 per 100,000 people in 1700, dropping to under 20 by 1800, and to under 10 by 1900.[6]

After World War II, crime rates increased in the United States, peaking from the 1970s to the early-1990s. Violent crime nearly quadrupled between 1960 and its peak in 1991. Property crime more than doubled over the same period. Since the 1990s, however, contrary to common misconception,[7] crime in the United States has declined steadily. Several theories have been proposed to explain this decline:

  • The number of police officers increased considerably in the 1990s.[8]
  • On September 16, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act into law. Under the act, over $30 billion in federal aid was spent over a six-year period to improve state and local law enforcement, prisons and crime prevention programs.[9] Proponents of the law, including the President, touted it as a lead contributor to the sharp drop in crime which occurred throughout the 1990s,[9] while critics have dismissed it as an unprecedented federal boondoggle.[9]
  • The prison population has rapidly increased since the mid-1970s.[8]
  • Starting in the mid-1980s, the crack-cocaine market grew rapidly before declining again a decade later. Some authors have pointed towards the link between violent crimes and crack use.[8]
  • Legalized abortion reduced the number of children born to mothers in difficult circumstances, and difficult childhood makes children more likely to become criminals.[10]
  • The changing demographics of an aging population has been cited for the drop in overall crime.[11]
  • Rising income[12]
  • The introduction of the data-driven policing practice CompStat significantly reduced crimes in cities that adopted it.[12]
  • The lead-crime hypothesis suggests reduced lead exposure as the cause; Scholar Mark A.R. Kleiman writes: "Given the decrease in lead exposure among children since the 1980s and the estimated effects of lead on crime, reduced lead exposure could easily explain a very large proportion—certainly more than half—of the crime decrease of the 1994-2004 period. A careful statistical study relating local changes in lead exposure to local crime rates estimates the fraction of the crime decline due to lead reduction as greater than 90 percent.[13]
  • The quality and extent of use of security technology both increased around the time of the crime decline, after which the rate of car theft declined; this may have caused rates of other crimes to decline as well.[14]
  • Increased rates of immigration to the United States[15][16]

Violent crime rates (per 100,000) in the United States (1960-2016):[17][18]

Property crime rates (per 100,000) in the United States (1960-2016):[17][18]


Each state has a set of statutes enforceable within its own borders. A state has no jurisdiction outside of its borders, even though still in the United States. It must request extradition from the state in which the suspect has fled. In 2014, there were 186,873 felony suspects outside specific states jurisdiction against whom no extradition would be sought. Philadelphia has about 20,000 of these since it is near a border with four other states. Extradition is estimated to cost a few hundred dollars per case.[19]

Characteristics of offenders

Violent crime rates by gender 1973-2003

For 2012, law enforcement made approximately 12,200,000 arrests nationally, down 200,000 from 2011.[20][21] Arrested offenders in the United States tend to be male,[22][23] over age 18,[24][25] and white, mirroring the general population. Based on a comparison with race and ethnicity data from the 2010 Census, blacks are arrested for more crimes than average, Native Americans are arrested for slightly more crimes than average, whites are arrested for slightly fewer crimes than average, and Asians and Pacific Islanders are arrested for fewer crimes than average.[26][27]

Arrested offenders by race (2012)[26]
Year White and Hispanic Black American Indian or
Alaskan Native
Asian or
Pacific Islander
2012 6,502,919 2,640,067 135,165 112,322
As a % of population[28][29] 223,553,265 (2.91%) 38,929,319 (6.78%) 2,932,248 (4.61%) 15,214,265 (0.738%)
% of total crime 69.3% 28.1% 1.4% 1.2%
Arrested offenders by gender (2012)[22]
Year Male Female Male (%) Female (%)
2012 6,972,023 2,474,637 73.8 26.2
United States homicide offending rates by race 1980 2008
US homicide convictions by race, 1980–2008[30]

Characteristics of offenders vary from the average for specific types of crimes and specific crimes. In terms of violent crime by gender, in 2011, 80.4% of arrested persons were male and 19.6% were female.[23] Males were 88.2% of those arrested for homicide, while females were 11.8%.[23] Among those arrested for rape in 2011, males were 98.8% and females were 1.2%.[23] For property crime in 2011, 62.9% of arrested persons were male and 37.1% were female.[23]

For violent crime by race in 2011, 59.4% of those arrested were white, 38.3% were black, and 2.2% were of other races.[27] For persons arrested for homicide in 2011, 49.7% were black, 48% were white, and 2.3% were of other races.[27] For persons arrested for rape in 2011, 65% were white, 32.9% were black, and 2.1% were of other races.[27] For property crime in 2011, 68.1% of arrested persons were white, 29.5% were black, and 2.4% were of other races.[27]

In 2011, law enforcement reported 6,222 bias-motivated incidents, known as hate crimes, for which 5,731 offenders were identified.[31] Of these, 59% were white, 20.9% were black, 7.1% were of various races, 1.4% were Asian or Pacific Islanders, 0.8% were Native American, and 10.8% were of unknown race.[31]

Reporting at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (August 3, 2008), sociologists at Bowling Green State University found that men who attend college are more likely to commit property crimes during their college years than their non-college-attending peers. The research draws from three waves of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and examines education, crime levels, substance abuse and socializing among adolescents and young adults.[32] Also, according to Naci Mocan of the University of Colorado and Erdal Tekin of Georgia State University, "We find that unattractive individuals commit more crime in comparison to average-looking ones, and very attractive individuals commit less crime in comparison to those who are average-looking."[33]

Crime victimology

United States homicide victimization rates by race 1980 2008
This graph shows the homicide victimization rate for whites and blacks, according to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics.[30]

In 2011, surveys indicated more than 5.8 million violent victimizations and 17.1 million property victimizations took place in the United States; according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, each property victimization corresponded to one household, while violent victimizations is the number of victims of a violent crime.[34]

Patterns are found within the victimology of crime in the United States. Overall, males, people with lower incomes, those younger than 25, and non-whites were more likely to report being the victim of crime.[34] Income, gender, and age had the most dramatic effect on the chances of a person being victimized by crime, while the characteristic of race depended upon the crime being committed.[34]

In terms of gender, males were more likely to become crime victims than were females,[35] with 79% percent of all murder victims being male. Males were twice as likely to be carjacked as females.[35] In terms of income, households with a 2008 income of less than $15,000 were significantly more likely to have their homes burglarized.[35]

Concerning age, those younger than twenty-five were more likely to fall victim to crime, especially violent crime.[36] The chances of being victimized by violent crime decreased far more substantially with age than the chances of becoming the victim of property crime.[36] For example, 3.03% of crimes committed against a young person were theft, while 20% of crimes committed against an elderly person were theft.[36]

Bias motivation reports showed that of the 7,254 hate crimes reported in 2011, 47.7% (3,465) were motivated by race, with 72% (2,494) of race-motivated incidents being anti-black.[31] In addition, 20.8% (1,508) of hate crimes were motivated by sexual orientation, with 57.8% (871) of orientation-motivated incidents being anti-male homosexual.[31] The third largest motivation factor for hate crime was religion, representing 18.2% (1,318) incidents, with 62.2% (820) of religion-motivated incidents being anti-Jewish.[31]

As of 2007, violent crime against homeless people is increasing.[37][38] The rate of such documented crimes in 2005 was 30% higher than of those in 1999.[39] 75% of all perpetrators are under the age of 25. Studies and surveys indicate that homeless people have a much higher criminal victimization rate than the non-homeless, but that most incidents never get reported to authorities. In recent years, largely due to the efforts of the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) and academic researchers the problem of violence against the homeless has gained national attention. The NCH called deliberate attacks against the homeless hate crimes in their report Hate, Violence, and Death on Mainstreet USA (they retain the definition of the American Congress). The Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino in conjunction with the NCH found that 155 homeless people were killed by non-homeless people in "hate killings", while 76 people were killed in all the other traditional hate crime homicide categories such as race and religion, combined.[38] The CSHE contends that negative and degrading portrayals of the homeless contribute to a climate where violence takes place.

The likelihood of falling victim to crime relates to both demographic and geographic characteristics.[1] Overall, men, minorities, the young, and those in urban areas are more likely to be crime victims.[1] The likelihood of perpetrating crime also relates to demography.

In 2010, according to the UNODC, 67.5% of all homicides in the United States were perpetrated using a firearm.[40] The costliest crime in terms of impact on victims, and the most underreported crime is rape, in the United States.[41][42]


US States by Incarceration Rate
A map of U.S. states by incarceration rate under state prison jurisdiction (but excluding jail and federal prison inmates) per 100,000 population.
Lifetime prevalence of incarceration
As of 2001, the lifetime likelihood of ever going to prison for various demographic groups, by percentages
Felony Sentences in State Courts.pdf
Felony Sentences in State Courts, study by the United States Department of Justice.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world (which includes pre-trial detainees and sentenced prisoners).[43] As of 2009, 2.3 million people were incarcerated in the United States, including federal and state prisons and local jails, creating an incarceration rate of 793 persons per 100,000 of national population.[43] During 2011, 1.6 million people were incarcerated under the jurisdiction of federal and state authorities.[44] At the end of 2011, 492 persons per 100,000 U.S. residents were incarcerated in federal and state prisons.[44] Of the 1.6 million state and federal prisoners, nearly 1.4 million people were under state jurisdiction, while 215,000 were under federal jurisdiction.[44] Demographically, nearly 1.5 million prisoners were male, and 115,000 were female, while 581,000 prisoners were black, 516,000 were white, and 350,000 were Hispanic.[44]

Among the 1.35 million sentenced state prisoners in 2011, 725,000 people were incarcerated for violent crimes, 250,000 were incarcerated for property crimes, 237,000 people were incarcerated for drug crimes, and 150,000 were incarcerated for other offenses.[44] Of the 200,000 sentenced federal prisoners in 2011, 95,000 were incarcerated for drug crimes, 69,000 were incarcerated for public order offenses, 15,000 were incarcerated for violent crimes, and 11,000 were incarcerated for property crimes.[44]

International comparison

The manner in which America's crime rate compared to other countries of similar wealth and development depends on the nature of the crime used in the comparison.[45] Overall crime statistic comparisons are difficult to conduct, as the definition and categorization of crimes varies across countries. Thus an agency in a foreign country may include crimes in its annual reports which the United States omits, and vice versa.

However, some countries such as Canada have similar definitions of what constitutes a violent crime, and nearly all countries had the same definition of the characteristics that constitutes a homicide. Overall the total crime rate of the United States is higher than developed countries, specifically Europe, with South American countries and Russia being the exceptions.[46] Some types of reported property crime in the U.S. survey as lower than in Germany or Canada, yet the homicide rate in the United States is substantially higher as is the prison population.

Violent crime

The reported U.S. violent crime rate includes murder, rape and sexual assault, robbery, and assault,[47] whereas the Canadian violent crime rate includes all categories of assault, including Assault level 1 (i.e., assault not using a weapon and not resulting in serious bodily harm).[48][49] A Canadian government study concluded that direct comparison of the 2 countries' violent crime totals or rates was "inappropriate".[50]

France does not count minor violence such as punching or slapping as assault, whereas Austria, Germany, and Finland do count such occurrences.[51]

The United Kingdom similarly has different definitions of what constitutes violent crime compared to the United States, making a direct comparison of the overall figure flawed. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports defines a “violent crime” as one of four specific offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. The British Home Office, by contrast, has a different definition of violent crime, including all “crimes against the person,” including simple assaults, all robberies, and all “sexual offenses,” as opposed to the FBI, which only counts aggravated assaults and “forcible rapes.”[52]

Crime rates are necessarily altered by averaging neighborhood higher or lower local rates over a larger population which includes the entire city. Having small pockets of dense crime may lower a city's average crime rate.

Violent crime rates per 100,000 population, 2013
Country Murder and non-negligent
manslaughter (intentional homicide)
Rape Robbery Aggravated
Austria 0.73 9 61 47
Germany 0.77 9 64 88
England/Wales 0.92 18 157 -
Scotland 1.15 20 60 117
USA 4.5 26.8 113 241


According to a 2013 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), between 2005 and 2012, the average homicide rate in the U.S. was 4.9 per 100,000 inhabitants compared to the average rate globally, which was 6.2. However, the U.S. had much higher murder rates compared to other countries identified in the report as "developed", which all had average homicide rates of 0.8 per 100,000.[46] In 2004, there were 5.5 homicides for every 100,000 persons, roughly three times as high as Canada (1.9) and six times as high as Germany and Italy (0.9).[53][48] A closer look at The National Archive of Criminal Justice Data indicates that per capita homicide rates over the last 30 plus years on average, of major cities, New Orleans' average annual per capita homicide rate of 52 murders per 100,000 people overall (1980–2012) is the highest of U.S. cities with average annual homicide totals that were among the top 10 highest during the same period.

Country Singapore Iceland Armenia United States Moldova South Sudan Panama
Homicide rate (per hundred thousand) in 2012
(international methodology)[46]
0.2 0.5 1.7 5.1 5.2 12 53.1

In the United States, the number of homicides where the victim and offender relationship was undetermined has been increasing since 1999 but has not reached the levels experienced in the early 1990s. In 14% of all murders, the victim and the offender were strangers. Spouses and family members made up about 15% of all victims, about one-third of the victims were acquaintances of the assailant, and the victim and offender relationship was undetermined in over one-third of homicides. Gun involvement in homicides were gang-related homicides which increased after 1980, homicides that occurred during the commission of a felony which increased from 55% in 1985 to 77% in 2005, homicides resulting from arguments which declined to the lowest levels recorded recently, and homicides resulting from other circumstances which remained relatively constant. Because gang killing has become a normal part of inner cities, many including police hold preconceptions about the causes of death in inner cities. When a death is labeled gang-related it lowers the chances that it will be investigated and increases the chances that the perpetrator will remain at large. In addition, victims of gang killings often determine the priority a case will be given by police. Jenkins (1988) argues that many serial murder cases remain unknown to police and that cases involving Black offenders and victims are especially likely to escape official attention.[54]

According to the FBI, "When the race of the offender was known, 53.0 percent were black, 44.7 percent were white, and 2.3 percent were of other races. The race was unknown for 4,132 offenders. (Based on Expanded Homicide Data Table 3). Of the offenders for whom gender was known, 88.2 percent were male."[55] According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, from 1980 to 2008, 84 percent of white homicide victims were killed by white offenders and 93 percent of black homicide victims were killed by black offenders.[30]

Gun violence

World map of civilian gun ownership - 2nd color scheme
Map of civilian guns per capita by country to the "Small Arms Survey 2007"[56]

The United States has the highest rate of civilian gun ownership per capita.[56][57][58] According to the CDC, between 1999 and 2014 there have been 185,718 homicides from use of a firearm and 291,571 suicides using a firearm.[59] Despite a significant increase in the sales of firearms since 1994, the US has seen a drop in the annual rate of homicides using a firearm from 7.0 per 100,000 population in 1993 to 3.6 per 100,000.[60] In the ten years between 2000 and 2009, the ATF reported 37,372,713 clearances for purchase, however, in the four years between 2010 and 2013, the ATF reported 31,421,528 clearances.[61]

Property crime

Burglaries per 1,000 pop
The burglary rates of selected industrialized countries as published by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics

According to a 2004 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, looking at the period from 1981 to 1999, the United States had a lower surveyed residential burglary rate in 1998 than Scotland, England, Canada, the Netherlands, and Australia. The other two countries included in the study, Sweden and Switzerland, had only slightly lower burglary rates. For the first nine years of the study period the same surveys of the public showed only Australia with rates higher than the United States. The authors noted various problems in doing the comparisons including infrequent data points. (The United States performed five surveys from 1995 to 1999 when its rate dipped below Canada's, while Canada ran a single telephone survey during that period for comparison.)[45]

Crimes against children

Violence against children from birth to adolescence is considered a “global phenomenon that takes many forms (physical, sexual, emotional), and occurs in many settings, including the home, school, community, care, and justice systems, and over the Internet."[62]

According to a 2001 report from UNICEF, the United States has the highest rate of deaths from child abuse and neglect of any industrialized nation, at 2.4 per 100,000 children; France has 1.4, Japan 1, UK 0.9 and Germany 0.8. According to the US Department of Health, the state of Texas has the highest death rate, at 4.05 per 100,000 children, New York has 2.46, Oregon 1.49 and New Hampshire 0.35. [63] A 2018 report from the Congressional Research Service stated, at the national level, violent crime and homicide rates have increased each year from 2014 to 2016.[64]

In 2016, data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) revealed that approximately 1,750 children died from either abuse or neglect; further, this is a continuing trend with an increasing 7.4% of crimes against children from 2012 to 2016 and these statistics can be compared to a rate of 2.36 children per 100,000 children in the United States general population.[65] In addition, 44.2% of these 2016 statistics are specific to physical abuse towards a child. [65]

A 2016 report from the Child Welfare Information Gateway also showed that 78% of the main perpetrators of violence against children in the United States are caused by a parent.

Human trafficking

Human trafficking is categorized into the following three groups: (1) sex trafficking; (2) sex and labor trafficking; and (3) labor trafficking; In addition, the rate of domestic minor sex trafficking has exponentially increased over the years. Sex trafficking of children also referred to as commercial sexual exploitation of children, is categorized by the following forms: pornography, prostitution, child sex tourism, and child marriage. Profiles of traffickers and types of trafficking differ in the way victims are abducted,  how they are treated, and the reason for the abduction.

According to a 2017 report from the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH), out of 10,615 reported survivors of sex trafficking 2,762 of those survivors were minors.[66]

The U.S. Department of Justice defines Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) as a range of crimes and activities involving the sexual abuse or exploitation of a child for the financial benefit of any person or in exchange for anything of value (including monetary and non-monetary benefits) given or received by any person. These crimes against children, which may occur at any time or place, robs them of their childhood and are extremely detrimental to their emotional and psychological development. [67]

In Pimp-controlled trafficking, the pimp typically is the only trafficker involved who has a full physical, psychological and emotional control over the victim. In Gang-controlled trafficking, a large group of people has power over the victim, forcing the victim to take part in illegal or violent tasks for the purpose of obtaining drugs. Another form is called Familial trafficking, this type of trafficking differs the most from the two mentioned above because the victim is typically not abducted. Instead, the victim is forced into being sexually exploited by family members in exchange for something of monetary value, whether that's paying back debt, or obtaining drugs or money. This type of sexual exploitation tends to be the most difficult to detect, yet remains as the most prevalent form of human sex trafficking within the United States.[67]

In 2009, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reported that the average age when children first fall victim to CSEC is between ages 12 and 14, however, this age has become increasingly younger due to exploiters fear of contracting HIV or AIDS from older victims.[67]

In 2018, the Office of Public Affairs within the Department of Justice released a report from operation “Broken Heart” conducted by Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces, stating that more than 2,300 suspected online child sex offenders were arrested on the following allegations:[68]

(1) produce, distribute, receive and possess child pornography

(2) engage in online enticement of children for sexual purposes

(3) engage in the sex trafficking of children

(4) travel across state lines or to foreign countries and sexually abuse children

In addition, a 2011 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics described the characteristics of suspected human trafficking incidents, identifying roughly 95% of victims were female and over half were 17 years old or younger.[67]

Geography of crime

Crime rates vary in the United States depending on the type of community.[69] Within metropolitan statistical areas, both violent and property crime rates are higher than the national average; in cities located outside metropolitan areas, violent crime was lower than the national average, while property crime was higher.[69] For rural areas, both property and violent crime rates were lower than the national average.[69]


For regional comparisons, the FBI divides the United States into four regions: Northeast, Midwest, South, and West.[70] For 2011, the region with the lowest violent crime was the Midwest, with a rate of 349.9 per 100,000 residents, while the region with the highest violent crime rate was the South, with a rate of 428.8 per 100,000.[70] For 2011, the region with the lowest property crime rate was the Northeast, with a rate of 2,121.8 per 100,000 residents, while the region with the highest property crime rate was the South, with a rate of 3,370.8 per 100,000.[70]


Crime rates vary among U.S. states.[71] In 2011, the state with the lowest violent crime rate was Maine, with a rate of 123.2 per 100,000 residents, while the state with the highest violent crime rate was Tennessee, with a rate of 608.2 per 100,000.[71] However, the District of Columbia, the U.S. capital district, had a violent crime rate of 1,202.1 per 100,000 in 2011.[71] In 2011, the state with the highest property crime rate was South Carolina, with a rate of 3,904.2 per 100,000, while the state with the lowest property crime rate was South Dakota, with a rate of 1,817.7 per 100,000.[71] However, Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States, had a property crime rate of 1,395.2 per 100,000 in 2011.[71]

Louisiana's homicide rate of 12.4 per 100,000, in 2017, was the highest among U.S. states for the 29th straight years according to the 2017 FBI Uniform Crime Report.

Metropolitan areas

Crime in metropolitan statistical areas tends to be above the national average; however, wide variance exists among and within metropolitan areas.[72] Some responding jurisdictions report very low crime rates, while others have considerably higher rates; these variations are due to many factors beyond population.[72] FBI crime statistics publications strongly caution against comparison rankings of cities, counties, metropolitan statistical areas, and other reporting units without considering factors other than simply population.[72] For 2011, the metropolitan statistical area with the highest violent crime rate was the Memphis metropolitan area, with a rate of 980.4 per 100,000 residents, while the metropolitan statistical area with the lowest violent crime rate was Logan metropolitan area, with a rate of 47.7.[73][74]

It is quite common for crime in American cities to be highly concentrated in a few, often economically disadvantaged areas. For example, San Mateo County, California had a population of approximately 707,000 and 17 homicides in 2001. Six of these 17 homicides took place in poor East Palo Alto, which had a population of roughly 30,000. So, while East Palo Alto accounted for a mere 4.2% of the population, about one-third of the homicides took place there.[75]

Crime in ten largest metropolitan areas (2011)[73][74]
Metropolitan statistical area Violent crime rate Property crime rate
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA MSA 406.0 1744.1
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA MSA 405.4 2232.7
Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI MSA 357.2 2791.5
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX MSA 358.4 3498.5
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX MSA 550.8 3576.9
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD MSA 532.3 2747.3
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA 334.6 2386.0
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL MSA 596.7 4193.3
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA MSA 400.9 3552.0
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH MSA 374.7 2109.0

Number and growth of criminal laws

There are conflicting opinions on the number of federal crimes,[76][77] but many have argued that there has been explosive growth and it has become overwhelming.[78][79][80] In 1982, the U.S. Justice Department could not come up with a number, but estimated 3,000 crimes in the United States Code.[76][77][81] In 1998, the American Bar Association (ABA) said that it was likely much higher than 3,000, but didn't give a specific estimate.[76][77] In 2008, the Heritage Foundation published a report that put the number at a minimum of 4,450.[77] When staff for a task force of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee asked the Congressional Research Service (CRS) to update its 2008 calculation of criminal offenses in the United States Code in 2013, the CRS responded that they lack the manpower and resources to accomplish the task.[82]

See also


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Further reading

  • Patrick Sharkey (2018). Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence. ISBN 978-0393609608.
  • Webster, DW & Vernick, JS (2013). Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis.

External links

2018 Chimney Canyon shootout

On 12 June 2018, a United States Border Patrol agent was wounded in an early morning shootout with Mexican smugglers in a remote area of southern Arizona, near the community of Arivaca. The US Border Patrol agent, who has not been identified, was on foot patrol and alone, responding to a movement sensor activation at approximately 4:30 AM in Chimney Canyon, just north of the ghost town of Ruby, Arizona, along a well known smuggler's route, which leads north from the international boundary to Arivaca, about 10 miles north of the border. While investigating the activation, the agent was ambushed and fired upon from multiple sources, and was shot in one of his hands and one of his legs, and several times more in his bullet proof vest.The unidentified agent, who is a 21-year veteran of the US Border Patrol, and also a paramedic, was able to return fire and escape his attackers, while applying first aid and retreating to his patrol vehicle, where he was able to call for assistance; eventually being evacuated via helicopter. A US Border Patrol tactical team was also called in and on the ground captured several illegal migrants in the immediate area, who are currently being investigated by the FBI for any potential involvement in the shooting.Local Arizona rancher and longtime resident, Jim Chilton, who owns a 50,000 acre spread in the immediate area, says the shootout occurred on his land, in an area known for drug smuggling and human trafficking from across the nearby Mexican border. He also says that over 200 trails criss-cross his ranch, and that the shooting occurred on the most traveled trail. The area is mountainous and rugged, and was featured in the 2015 documentary film Cartel Land.Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) issued the following statement: "Relieved the U.S. Border Patrol Agent shot on duty this morning near Arivaca, AZ survived. Praying for full recovery & to find assailant. Thanks to the @CBPArizona team who responded so quickly. A reminder that border patrol agents & CBP officers are on the frontlines every day."

Federal crime in the United States

In the United States, a federal crime or federal offense is an act that is made illegal by U.S. federal legislation. Prosecution happens at both the federal and the state levels (based on the Dual sovereignty doctrine) and so a "federal crime" is one that is prosecuted under federal criminal law and not under state criminal law under which most of the crimes committed in the United States are prosecuted.

That includes many acts for which, if they did not occur on U.S. federal property or on Indian reservations or were not specifically penalized, would either not be crimes or fall under state or local law. Some crimes are listed in Title 18 of the United States Code (the federal criminal and penal code), but others fall under other titles. For instance, tax evasion and possession of weapons banned by the National Firearms Act are criminalized in Title 26 of the United States Code.

Numerous federal agencies have been granted powers to investigate federal offenses, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Secret Service.

Other federal crimes include mail fraud, aircraft hijacking, carjacking, kidnapping, bank robbery, child pornography, credit card fraud, identity theft, computer crimes, federal hate crimes, violations of the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), obscenity, tax evasion, counterfeiting, violations of the Espionage Act, violations of the Patriot Act, illegal wiretapping, art theft from a museum, damaging or destroying public mailboxes, electoral fraud, immigration offenses, and since 1965 in the aftermath of the President John F. Kennedy's assassination, assassinating or attempting assassination of the President or Vice President.In drug-related federal offenses, mandatory minimums can be enforced if federal law is implicated, when a defendant manufactures, sells, imports/exports, traffic, or cultivate illegal controlled substances across state boundaries or national borders. A mandatory minimum is a federally regulated minimum sentence for offenses of certain drugs.Prosecution guidelines are established by the United States Attorney in each federal judicial district and by laws that Congress has already established.

Operation Bishop

Operation Bishop is the codename for a long-term effort by state and federal police forces to end illegal gambling and associated money laundering schemes in the border city of Brownsville, Texas. Since its beginning in April 2013, Operation Bishop has focused on "eight-liner" establishments, where customers play inexpensive slot machines, known as "maquinitas", and so far have made over 60 arrests, seized over $1,000,000 and dozens of slot machines, in more than 70 police raids. It has been speculated that the illegal gambling operations in Brownsville may be used by Mexican drug cartels in the area to launder large quantities of illegitimate revenue.Texas authorities report that the "eight-liner" industry produces approximately $300,000,000 annually, and is then believed to exit Cameron County or even Texas altogether.

Operation Community Shield (2005–present)

Operation Community Shield is an ongoing multi-agency law enforcement initiative targeting violent gang members and their associates involved in the illegal drug and human trafficking industries in the United States. Since its launch by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in February 2005, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and other participating federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have made more than 40,000 gang-related arrests, including 451 gang leaders, representing more than 2,400 different gangs and organizations, and have seized more than 8,000 guns in multiple projects.

Operation Coyote

Operation Coyote was a United States Department of Homeland Security 90-day effort to track and seize revenue generated by Mexican cartels in the human smuggling industry along the United States-Mexico border.

Operation Diablo Express

Operation Diablo Express was a cross-border raid launched on 29 January 2016, by a combined force of Mexican and American police to apprehend members of the Sinaloa Cartel in Lukeville, Arizona, and the neighboring border town Sonoyta, in northwestern Sonora.According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman Gillian M. Christensen; the Sinaloa cartel "cell" targeted in Sonoyta and the adjacent Lukeville area were responsible for the "importation of millions of pounds of illegal drugs, including marijuana, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine" into the United States, as well as the smuggling of "millions of dollars in U.S. currency, along with weapons, into Mexico." Christensen also reported that an ICE unit, Homeland Security Investigations, assisted Mexican police in the operation. The DEA, FBI, Customs and Border Protection and Arizona state and local agencies were also involved in coordinated operations on the Arizona side of the border.Mexico's National Security commissioner, Renato Sales, issued a statement explaining that the operation was conducted via land and air and that when Federal Police moved in they came under fire from armed men, who were guarding the area. Two of the gunmen were killed in the ensuing gun battle and twenty-two others were taken into police custody.

Operation Family Secrets

Operation Family Secrets was an FBI investigation of mob related crimes in Chicago. The FBI called it one of the most successful investigations of organized crime that it had ever conducted.The investigation and trial was accurately dubbed "Family Secrets" because of the betrayal from within the Calabrese family. The son, Frank Calabrese, Jr., and brother, Nick Calabrese, of a Chicago Outfit mob hitman, Frank Calabrese, Sr., provided testimony that was instrumental to the success of Operation Family Secrets. The investigation led to indictments of 14 defendants who were affiliated with the Chicago Outfit, which has been one of the most prolific organized crime enterprises in the US.The most heinous of their crimes investigated were 18 murders and one attempted murder between 1970 and 1986. All of the murders and the other crimes being charged to the defendants were allegedly committed to further the Outfit's illegal activities such as loansharking, bookmaking, and protecting the enterprise from law enforcement.

Operation Family Secrets was a milestone in the FBI's battle against organized crime in Chicago. It is said to have had a significant effect on the operations of the Chicago Outfit. However, it did not end the Outfit's reign in Chicago.

Operation Old Bridge

Operation Old Bridge is the code name for the February 7, 2008 arrests in Italy and the United States that targeted the Gambino crime family. Among the indicted were the reputed acting bosses Jackie D'Amico, Nicholas Corozzo and Consigliere Joseph Corozzo of the Gambino crime family. The indictments included: murder, drug trafficking, robbery and extortion.

Operation Phalanx (2010-2016)

Operation Phalanx was a United States National Guard program to assist the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the security of the United States-Mexico Border. Beginning in 2010, Phalanx was the successor operation to 2006-2008 program known as Operation Jump Start.In November 2016, DHS indefinitely halted the National Guard's aerial surveillance flights amid protests from U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas,) the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, and Senator John Cornyn, (R-Texas), all of whom are pressing the Obama administration to restart the program in 2017.Since the beginning of Operation Phalanx in 2010, National Guard airmen flying UH-72 Lakota helicopters have been credited with stopping 64,000 illegal border crossings in the Rio Grande sector of the United States Mexico border, along with an additional 25,000 in the Laredo sector and 21,000 in the Tucson, Arizona area. More than 300,000 pounds of marijuana has also been seized in Phalanx operations.

Operation Solare

Operation Solare (also named Project Reckoning in the US.) is the Italian name for a 2008 anti-drug operation involving the United States, Mexico, Guatemala and Italy, involving a major Mexican drug cartel, the Gulf Cartel, and the 'Ndrangheta mafia from the Calabria region of Italy. In the operation, some 200 people were arrested in Italy and in the US.

Operation Terminus

Operation Terminus was a 30-month investigation into a Sinaloa Cartel drug smuggling ring in Arizona, California and Indiana. Beginning sometime in 2012, Operation Terminus investigators seized $7.5 million in cash, 485 pounds of methamphetamine, 50 Kilograms of cocaine, 4.5 pounds of heroin and 37 guns, including assault rifles, sniper rifles, and various other small arms. 77 suspects were indicted, and an "extensive drug trafficking network" stretching from Sinaloa, Mexico, to Phoenix, Arizona, Los Angeles, California, and Indianapolis, Indiana, was uncovered. Police officials have also reported that as result of the legalization of marijuana in some U.S. states, Mexican cartels are turning to more dangerous illegals drugs to make up for lost profits. A police spokesman in Tempe, Arizona, Lt. Mike Pooley commented on the situation: "They are plowing marijuana fields and planting opiates. It's killing our youths. It's an epidemic."

Operation Xcellerator

Operation Xcellerator was an operation conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, with cooperation from Mexican and Canadian authorities, against Sinaloa Cartel drug traffickers. In February 2009, after a 21-month operation, it totalled 755 suspects arrested across California, Minnesota and Maryland.

In addition to the arrests of alleged drug traffickers, US$59.1 million in cash, over 12,000 kg (26,000 lb) of cocaine, 16,000 lb (7,300 kg) of marijuana, 1,200 lb (540 kg) of methamphetamine, 8 kg (18 lb) of heroin, 1.3 million ecstasy pills, 149 vehicles, 3 aircraft, 3 maritime vessels and 169 weapons were seized.A large-scale meth laboratory was also uncovered, as was an ecstasy lab capable of producing 12,000 pills per hour.

Polish-American organized crime

Polish-American organized crime has existed in the United States throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Although not as well known as Italian, Irish, Russian or Jewish mafias, the Polish mob has a presence in many urban Polish American communities.

Project Southern Tempest

Project Southern Tempest was a major U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operation conducted between December 2010 and February 2011 targeting transnational street gang members with ties to drug cartels in Mexico, as part of the ongoing law enforcement initiative known as Operation Community Shield.

Project Wildfire

Project Wildfire was a nationwide, multi-agency investigation of various transnational criminal gangs in 2015 that resulted in the arrests of 976 individuals, representing 239 different organizations, in 282 cities in the United States mainland and Puerto Rico. Eighty-two firearms, 5.2 kilograms of methamphetamine, 7.8 kilograms of marijuana, 5.6 kilograms of cocaine, 1.5 kilograms of heroin, $379,399, counterfeit merchandise with a suggested retail price of $547,534 and five vehicles were also seized.As part of the ongoing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) effort known as Operation Community Shield, Project Wildfire began on February 23, 2015, and concluded on March 31, with most arrests involving members and those affiliated with the Sureños, Norteños, Bloods, and the Crips, along with Puerto Rican gangs and several prison-based gangs. Arrests were made all around the country, with the greatest activity taking place in Texas, Detroit, Michigan, Los Angeles County, California, Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Public enemy

Public enemy is a term which was first widely used in the United States in the 1930s to describe individuals whose activities were seen as criminal and extremely damaging to society, though the phrase had been used for centuries to describe pirates and similar outlaws.

Race and crime in the United States

The relationship between race and crime in the United States has been a topic of public controversy and scholarly debate for more than a century. The crime rate varies between racial groups. Most homicides in the United States are intraracial—the perpetrator and victim are of the same race. Research argues that the overrepresentation of some minorities in the criminal justice system can be explained by socioeconomic factors as well as racial discrimination by law enforcement and the judicial system.

The Lanzetta Brothers

The Lanzetta Brothers, also known as the Lanzetti Brothers (due to incorrect documentation), was a group of six brothers that ran bootlegging operations in Philadelphia and possibly Atlantic City.

Violent crime

A violent crime or crime of violence is a crime in which an offender or perpetrator uses or threatens to use force upon a victim. This entails both crimes in which the violent act is the objective, such as murder or rape, as well as crimes in which violence is the means to an end. Violent crimes may, or may not, be committed with weapons. Depending on the jurisdiction, violent crimes may vary from homicide to harassment. Typically, violent criminals includes aircraft hijackers, bank robbers, muggers, burglars, terrorists, carjackers, rapists, kidnappers, torturers, active shooters, murderers, gangsters, drug cartels, and others.

Year Violent crime Murder and non-negligent
Rape Robbery Aggravated
1960 160.9 5.1 9.6 60.1 86.1
1961 158.1 4.8 9.4 58.3 85.7
1962 162.3 4.6 9.4 59.7 88.6
1963 168.2 4.6 9.4 61.8 92.4
1964 190.6 4.9 11.2 68.2 106.2
1965 200.2 5.1 12.1 71.7 111.3
1966 220.0 5.6 13.2 80.8 120.3
1967 253.2 6.2 14.0 102.8 130.2
1968 298.4 6.9 15.9 131.8 143.8
1969 328.7 7.3 18.5 148.4 154.5
1970 363.5 7.9 18.7 172.1 164.8
1971 396.0 8.6 20.5 188.0 178.8
1972 401.0 9.0 22.5 180.7 188.8
1973 417.4 9.4 24.5 183.1 200.5
1974 461.1 9.8 26.2 209.3 215.8
1975 487.8 9.6 26.3 220.8 231.1
1976 467.8 8.7 26.6 199.3 233.2
1977 475.9 8.8 29.4 190.7 247.0
1978 497.8 9.0 31.0 195.8 262.1
1979 548.9 9.8 34.7 218.4 286.0
1980 596.6 10.2 36.8 251.1 298.5
1981 594.3 9.8 36.0 258.4 289.3
1982 570.8 9.1 34.0 238.8 289.0
1983 537.7 8.3 33.8 216.7 279.4
1984 539.9 7.9 35.7 205.7 290.6
1985 556.6 8.0 36.8 209.3 304.0
1986 620.1 8.6 38.1 226.0 347.4
1987 612.5 8.3 37.6 213.7 352.9
1988 640.6 8.5 37.8 222.1 372.2
1989 666.9 8.7 38.3 234.3 385.6
1990 729.6 9.4 41.1 256.3 422.9
1991 758.2 9.8 42.3 272.7 433.4
1992 757.7 9.3 42.8 263.7 441.9
1993 747.1 9.5 41.1 256.0 440.5
1994 713.6 9.0 39.3 237.8 427.6
1995 684.5 8.2 37.1 220.9 418.3
1996 636.6 7.4 36.3 201.9 391.0
1997 611.0 6.8 35.9 186.2 382.1
1998 567.6 6.3 34.5 165.5 361.4
1999 523.0 5.7 32.8 150.1 334.3
2000 506.5 5.5 32.0 145.0 324.0
2001 504.5 5.6 31.8 148.5 318.6
2002 494.4 5.6 33.1 146.1 309.5
2003 475.8 5.7 32.3 142.5 295.4
2004 463.2 5.5 32.4 136.7 288.6
2005 469.0 5.6 31.8 140.8 290.8
2006 473.6 5.8 31.6 150.0 292.0
2007 471.8 5.7 30.6 148.3 287.2
2008 458.6 5.4 29.8 145.9 277.5
2009 431.9 5.0 29.1 133.1 264.7
2010 404.5 4.8 27.7 119.3 252.8
2011 387.1 4.7 27.0 113.9 241.5
2012 386.9 4.7 26.9 112.9 242.3
2013 369.1 4.5 25.9 109.0 229.6
2014 361.1 4.4 26.6 101.3 229.2
2015 373.7 4.9 28.4 102.2 238.1
2016 386.3 5.3 29.6 102.8 248.5
Year Property crime Burglary Larceny Motor vehicle theft
1960 1,726.3
1961 1,747.9
1963 2,012
1965 2,249
1967 2,736
1969 3,351
1971 3,769
1973 3,737
1975 4,811
1977 4,602
1979 5,017
1981 5,264
1983 4,637
1985 4,650
1987 4,940
1989 5,078
1991 5,140
1992 4,903.7 1,168.4 3,103.6 631.6
1993 4,740.0 1,099.7 3,033.9 606.3
1994 4,660.2 1,042.1 3,026.9 591.3
1995 4,590.5 987.0 3,043.2 560.3
1996 4,451.0 945.0 2,980.3 525.7
1997 4,316.3 918.8 2,891.8 505.7
1998 4,052.5 863.2 2,729.5 459.9
1999 3,743.6 770.4 2,550.7 422.5
2000 3,618.3 728.8 2,477.3 412.2
2001 3,658.1 741.8 2,485.7 430.5
2002 3,630.6 747.0 2,450.7 432.9
2003 3,591.2 741.0 2,416.5 433.7
2004 3,514.1 730.3 2,362.3 421.5
2005 3,431.5 726.9 2,287.8 416.8
2006 3,346.6 733.1 2,213.2 400.2
2007 3,276.4 726.1 2,185.4 364.9
2008 3,214.6 733.0 2,166.1 315.4
2009 3,041.3 717.7 2,064.5 259.2
2010 2,945.9 701.0 2,005.8 239.1
2011 2,905.4 701.3 1,974.1 230.0
2012 2,859.2 670.2 1,959.3 229.7
2013 2,733.6 610.5 1,901.9 221.3
2014 2,574.1 537.2 1,821.5 215.4
2015 2,500.5 494.7 1,783.6 222.2
2016 2,450.7 468.9 1,745.0 236.9
United States articles
Crime in the Americas
Sovereign states
Crime in the United States by state
Federal district
Insular areas

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