If new crime statistics are to be believed, there are few times in modern history that is has been safer, on the whole, to live and work in New Jersey. In fact, for nearly every type of crime statistics show that we are at or near record lows for incidences of that particular act. The low rates of crime relative to past years and decades should be reason to celebrate in the state and reconsider the vast resources we devote to the incarceration of non-violent offenders. However, it seems that this bit of news has been little noticed and even when it is noticed, people show a tendency to disbelieve data showing that today’s world is likely safer than the world in which they grew up.
The reasons for this perception are numerous and likely vary from person to person. For some, it may be the news media’s dedication to the adage, “if it bleeds, it leads.” That is, grisly or high-profile violent crimes seems to attract eyeballs and thus violent crimes get featured prominently in newscast after newscast making their incidence seem greater than it actually is in reality. For others, worries about terrorism and terrorist attacks overwhelms their thinking about the issues and causes them to see the world as being much more dangerous than it is.
However, it is essential that we maintain an accurate perception of the world so that government policies regarding criminal justice issues can be appropriately tailored. While zero-tolerance policies can be effective as a deterrence measure when a certain crime is pervasive, such aggressive tactics are more likely to produce erroneous arrests and unfounded charges. This information is provided as a resource to guide ideas regarding crime in New Jersey.
Rate of Crime for Nearly All Crimes Have Fallen
According to a recent release of crime data by the FBI, the incidence of nearly all types of crime fell in the state. The roughly 23,000 violent crimes accounted for by the FBI crime statistics represents more than a 9 percent decrease from 2013. Violent crime as a category includes robbery, rape, murder, & Aggravated assault. The incidence of murder and non-intentional manslaughter decreased from 404 recorded instances to 349 instances – a decrease of 13.6 percent. Likewise, the number of robberies fell 11.1 percent from 12,084 in 2013 to 10,498 in 2015. Aggravated assaults dropped seven percent from 109,419 incidences in 2013 to 105,442 incidences in 2014. Motor vehicle theft decreased significantly falling nearly 15 percent from 2013 to 2014.
The sole exception to the falling crime rates is the crime of rape – aggravated sexual assault in New Jersey. For rape, the FBI keeps both a legacy definition and a new, revised definition. Under the legacy definition, rape increased nearly 11 percent from 861 reports in 2013 to 953 reports in 2014. Under the revised definition, rape also increased. However this increase was only a seven percent increase from 1,189 to 1,274.
FBI Revised the Definition of Rape for 2014 Crime Stats
In 2012, the FBI announced its intention to change the definition of rape of reporting in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s (UCR) Summary Reporting System. Under the old definition rape was defined in the gendered terms of:
“The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.”
This definition created a number of problems because a number of state agencies interpreted this definition to exclude an array of sex crimes involving penetration from the definition of rape. For instance, some agencies excluded anal or oral penetration, penetration with a foreign object, and penetration of a male victim from the definition of rape.
The new definition was drafted to avoid many of these problems and to include all types of rape regardless of the method of rape or the gender of the victim. The new definition defines rape as:
Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.
The new definition of rape has been effective since the first day of 2013. Thus far and when available, reporting for 2013 and 2014 has included both sets of data.
Charged with a Crime in South Jersey?
If you were mistakenly swept up by the aggressive policing policies in effect in South Jersey and across the nation even despite our plummeting crime rate, you likely face harsh potential consequences. The experienced criminal defense lawyers in Cape May, NJ at the Law Firm of John J. Zarych can fight to protect your freedom and reputation. To schedule a no-cost initial case evaluation call us at (609) 616-4956 or contact us online today. We have offices in Wildwood, Cape May, and Northfield, and while we are primarily known as a criminal defense law firm in Atlantic City, we work with the entire surrounding area.