Crimes that we hear about on the news do not necessarily reflect the most common crimes that actually occur day-to-day. In New Jersey, there may be frequent news stories about serious allegations like murder or sexual assault, but the news typically fails to report more common crimes, like shoplifting, theft, and minor drug possession charges. The following statistics may help you understand some of the more common crimes in New Jersey. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime – whether a common crime or a rare one – contact the Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today for a free consultation on your charges.
Common Criminal Offense Statistics in New Jersey
One of the best places to find crime statistics and information is the Uniform Crime Report (UCR). Each year, every state’s police are required to report their arrests to the FBI and other national agencies as part of the UCR. These studies help Americans understand “typical” crime. The UCR looks at a series of “index crimes,” which include serious and less serious offenses. These are used as markers to get a feel of the overall crime rate in the state.
In New Jersey, the crimes that are tracked for this report are murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft. In New Jersey in 2016 (the most recent year with full statistics), the following crimes were committed:
- 38 murders;
- 115 rapes;
- 291 robberies;
- 153 aggravated assaults and 4,199 simple assaults;
- 1,184 burglaries;
- 8,562 thefts; and
- 905 motor vehicle thefts.
From these statistics, we can see that there are far fewer violent crimes like murder, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery than there are property crimes. While the number of simple assaults may be quite high, the highest number of crimes is property offenses like theft.
Many times, it is helpful to look at crime statistics as a rate rather than a pure number of crimes. This shows, instead, how many crimes occur by correcting for population. For every 1,000 residents in New Jersey, there are 16.25 property crimes and only 2.55 violent crimes. Looking at the index crimes, we see rates (per 1,000 residents) of:
- 0.04 murders;
- 0.15 rapes;
- 1.09 robberies;
- 1.27 assaults;
- 3.12 burglaries;
- 11.83 thefts; and
- 1.31 motor vehicle thefts.
This shows that, in the grand scheme of things, there are very few violent crimes and far more property crimes in New Jersey.
Types of Criminal Charges in NJ
Looking at these charges more closely is important to understand why they occur less frequently. First, crimes like murder (a.k.a. homicide) and rape (known as “sexual assault” in NJ) can be classified as first degree crimes. This is the highest classification of crime in NJ, and carries a potential of 10-20 years in prison and fines of up to $200,000. While some theft offenses can reach the level of second degree crime, there must have been at least $75,000 stolen to achieve this high crime classification.
This means that, basically, people do not commit serious crimes very frequently. Whether this is because the penalties are so harsh or because people do not want to commit very serious crimes, the rates of high-level crimes are lower than less serious crimes. This is, in part, why we see a higher rate of property crimes. Many see these as victimless or harmless crimes, even though they are depriving others of their money or items. Many property crimes are lower-level crimes, and the vast majority of property offenses lack any personal interaction or violence. In turn, they also have lower penalties.
The “index crimes” discussed above have mostly clear definitions, but the following information may help you understand where the lines are drawn in defining these offenses:
- Murder includes only intentional killings. Accidental deaths are not usually included under homicide crimes.
- Rape – called “sexual assault” – includes sexual penetration under situations where the victim cannot give consent. There are lesser crimes for aggressive sexual touching short of penetration.
- Robbery is theft from the presence of another involving some level of violence. Many of these crimes involve threats of harm or the use of a weapon.
- Assault comes in two levels: aggravated assault for when a weapon is used or the victim suffers serious bodily injury, and simple assault for when no weapon is used and the victim suffers less serious wounds or injuries.
- Burglary is breaking into a building or trespassing to steal, and must occur in a building or home.
- Theft is taking anything that does not belong to you. This index crime may not include lighter theft offenses, like shoplifting.
- Motor vehicle theft is theft of a car or other vehicle; stealing items from within a vehicle is a regular theft offense.
South Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys
The South Jersey criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent those charged with crimes in South Jersey and beyond. If you or a loved one was charged with any crime in New Jersey, our attorneys may be able to help. For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.