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Crimes Against the Person

Crimes against the person include homicide, assault, battery, and rape. They are all serious offenses that can result in harsh punishments. Homicide Homicidethe killing of one human being by anotheris classified as criminal or noncriminal. Murder is the most serious form of criminal homicide. It may be classified as first-degree, felony murder, or second-degree, depending on the level of premeditation that preceded the crime. In voluntary manslaughter, the killer loses control in response to the victim's actions. Although the killer is still responsible for the killing, the law recognizes that the killer had an altered state of mind that may have prevented him or her from acting rationally. Involuntary manslaughter is an accidental killing resulting from a person's careless behavior toward others. Suicide Suicide is the deliberate taking of one's own life. Most courts generally treat attempted suicide as a plea for help and demand that the individual seek treatment. The courts may order a psychological examination or treatment for someone who has attempted suicide. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among teenagers. Assault and Battery The law often treats assault and battery as very similar crimes. Assault is an attempt or threat to carry out a physical attack upon another person. Battery is any unlawful physical contact inflicted by one person upon another person without consent. Even if actual injury does not occur, a person may be charged with battery if he or she intended to harm the other person. These crimeswhich include simple assault, stalking, and sexual assaultare classified according to how severe they are. Rape The law generally has recognized rape and statutory rape as separate crimes. Rape is sexual intercourse without consent. Statutory rape is sexual intercourse between an adult and a minor child. Rape laws recognize that either males or females can commit or be victims of this crime. This area of law is in transition, however, as many states are replacing their rape laws with criminal sexual assault laws.

Crimes Against Property

The category of crimes against property includes two groupscrimes in which property is destroyed and crimes in which property is stolen or taken against the owner's will. During the late 1990s, there were fewer crimes against property, in part because Americans developed better ways to prevent these crimes. Arson and vandalism are examples of crimes involving the destruction of property. Arson is the intentional and malicious burning of another person's property. In most states it is a crime to burn any building or structure, even if the person setting the fire is the owner. Vandalism is the willful destruction of or damage to another person's property. Effects of vandalism include broken windows, graffiti, and damage to cars. There are many other categories of crimes that involve taking property against the will of the owner. Larceny is the unlawful taking and carrying away of another person's property with the intent never to return it to the owner. Most states identify larceny as either grand or petty. Grand larcenywhich is a felonyoccurs when anything above a certain value is stolen. Petty larceny is a misdemeanor that involves the theft of anything of small value. Robbery is the taking of property from a person's immediate possession by using force or threats, while burglary is the unlawful entry into any dwelling or structure with the intention to commit a crime. A person who is entrusted with property but then takes it unlawfully is guilty of embezzlement. Extortion, which is also called blackmail, takes place when one person uses threats to obtain another person's property. The threats may include harm to the victim's body, property, reputation, or loved ones. Other crimes against property include forgery, receiving stolen property, and unauthorized use of a vehicle. The Internet has led to an increase in computer crime, which is any unlawful use of a computer or computer technology. It can involve such acts as the use of a computer to make fake identifications or the intentional spreading of a computer virus.