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A violent crime or a crime of violence is any criminal act that involves the use of force against another person. It includes crimes such as homicide, aggravated assault and sexual abuse. Visit the website.

While every homicide is a tragedy, recent violent crime rates are modest by historical standards. The speculative explanations that often get offered—like the COVID-19 pandemic or pent-up frustrations—don’t seem to fit.


The cause of violent crime is a complex issue. Many criminologists have explored a variety of influences. Some point to visible physical traits, some to pressures caused by cultural goals and social structures and others to biological elements like hormones.

People vary in how much risk they are willing to take, both in their general lives and when committing crimes. Various personal factors enter into the equation including the stability of employment. Research has long shown that stable neighborhoods have a lower rate of violent crime.

Other factors that influence criminal behavior include a desire for material gain, revenge and power. The desire for material gain may lead to property crimes such as robbery or burglary. The desire for power or revenge often leads to murder or aggravated assault. Other causes of crime are a lack of opportunity or the presence of gangs. Changing government policies that hurt intact families is a powerful means of upholding marriage and family and helping to prevent crime.


The general pattern is that the more violent a crime, the greater the distress experienced by the victim. Workers should pay attention to what victims report and examine their coping skills, lifestyle and life experiences in relation to the severity of their reactions.

Psychiatric diagnosis associated with crime victimization include depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Depression symptoms may include low mood, loss of interest in activities, difficulty concentrating or thinking, changes in sleeping patterns, weight loss and fatigue. Anxiety symptoms may be physical – headaches, sweating and heart palpitations – or psychological such as feelings of helplessness or worthlessness.

Preventing violence starts with recognition of warning signs. These include a history of abuse, patterns of aggressive or impulsive behavior, serious fighting with family members and peers, severe rage for apparently minor reasons, and possession or access to weapons. These are the characteristics that Macdonald’s triad identifies. However, his theory doesn’t hold up to research scrutiny.


There are several ways to prevent violence. Crime prevention initiatives can focus on reducing the opportunity to offend by addressing the factors that increase risk. These factors may include gang affiliations, economic disadvantage within the community, and lack of social connections between residents. NIJ supports research to improve the effectiveness of prevention strategies.

A number of states have laws that criminalize specific kinds of violent crimes, such as domestic abuse and child abuse. These laws typically entail a victim-centric approach, criminalizing harm to those who are close to the perpetrator – whether they be family members or other acquaintances.

Law enforcement leaders must insist on a sustained, consistent focus on violence prevention and a clear shift away from reactive responses to volatile situations. Similarly, non-law enforcement community leaders must align their actions with policing and invest in place-based approaches that change the nature of violent micro-locations. They can also align state and federal efforts to deter and incapacitate persistently high-risk individuals and groups.


Violent criminals account for a substantial proportion of the prison population and offenders under community supervision in developed countries. Psychological treatments targeting offender rehabilitative needs are often delivered within correctional and forensic mental health settings.

These VIPs are typically offered in a group therapy format (although they can also be delivered on a one-to-one basis). The programme addresses multiple criminogenic needs, including antisocial attitudes and cognitions, emotion regulation, victim empathy and understanding of offence cycle.

In terms of proximal outcome measures, VIP participation has been found to be associated with a reduction in dynamic risk factors such as denial and minimisation and an enhancement of victim empathy. However, the extent to which these changes correlate with recidivism remains unclear. Only a small number of studies have examined this issue thus far. Those that have done so have typically utilised a series of paired sample t-tests to compare the level of denial and minimisation, and enhancement of victim empathy, pre- and post-treatment.

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