Criminal law operates differently according to what crime the state has charged a defendant with. Each crime has its own set of elements that define it, as well as defenses that may apply and factors that influence sentencing. However, while each crime is different, there are several broad types of crimes that share features and defenses. It can be useful to examine all the crimes in a category in order to understand the laws and defenses and involved. The pages below provide links to statutes, with select overviews, penalty ranges, and resources on a number of crimes, including assault, theft, DUI, and drug crimes.
Many drug cases involve either drug possession or drug trafficking charges. The difference between the two charges has much to do with the amount of the substance in question. Common controlled substances for which possession charges are brought include: prescription drugs (e.g., oxycodone and Xanax); marijuana; cocaine; heroin; methamphetamine (meth); and methylone (molly).
Property crime is a category of crime in which the person who commits the crime seeks to do damage to or derive an unlawful benefit or interest from another’s property without using force or threat of force. Property crimes are often high-volume crimes. Property crime includes burglary, theft, arson, larceny, shoplifting and vandalism. Others require the actual taking of money or property. Some, such as robbery, require a victim present at the time of the crime. Most property crimes include a spectrum of degrees depending on factors including the amount stolen and use of force or arms in theft related cases, and actual or potential bodily injury in property destruction crimes such as arson.
The relationship between alcohol and crime is complex. The misuse of legal substances can be connected to crime. Alcohol, while legal for adults, may be used in a manner that constitutes a crime or status offense (i.e., while operating a vehicle (DUI) or possession by a minor). Alcohol also impacts crime indirectly via the effects they have on users’ behavior and by their association with violence and other illegal activity in connection with their manufacture, distribution, acquisition or consumption.
Sex crimes refer to criminal offenses of a sexual nature. Every state has laws against prohibiting the various types of sex crimes, such as rape and sexual assault, and each state has its own time limit (or “statute of limitations”) in which victims of sex crimes may file a lawsuit against the alleged offender.
Commonly known sex crimes include, rape, child molestation, sexual battery, lewd conduct, possession and distribution of child pornography, possession and distribution of obscene material, prostitution, solicitation of prostitution, pimping, pandering, indecent exposure, lewd act with a child, and penetration of the genital or anal region by a foreign object.
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