Top Ten Ranking for Violent Crimes

This is an originally developed violent crime continuum scale. The explanations and criteria for each crime was independently researched and categorized as below below. The categories are ranked from the most violent to the least violent crime based on a combination of the severity, amount of force needed to commit the crime and the overall potential rate of victimization. These are the more commonplace acts of violence which can cause the greatest threats or harm.


The unlawful use, or threatened use, of violence to intimidate or coerce a population or government. Typically, this type of violence constitutes the threats or use of WMD attacks, assassinations, or kidnappings to force changes in policy and practices of other governments, institutions, or social practices.

2. Murder

Reducing the scope of violence to a more individualized, or intimate violence, this class of violence is considered as the taking of another person's life with intentional malice or in the commission of a felony.

There are specific classifications by which the number of victims can increase to include mass murder which is the killing of 4 or more persons during the same ongoing incident; by which the killings occur at the same location with no time between accidents by an offender or offenders. This differs slightly from spree killing where 2 or more people are killed by the same individual (s) at different times and locations, with no cooling off period.

The third form of murder is serial killing where 3 or more people are killed generally by the same person over an extended period of time with a significant period of time between occurrences.

3. Manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter occurs when the death of another person results from a sudden, violent, irresistible action based on insufficient provocation. Whereas, involuntary manslaughter is reclassified as the death of another individual without any intention to do so, away from the perpetrator engaging in the commission of a felony.

4. Rape

As the first category of the violent offsets that exclude the element of death; This is the forcible act of sex, typically against a female. There is also a specific definition with this act that indicates the presence of rape when sex with a female of less than 10 years of age occurs.

5. Assault

This is one of the more commonplace violent acts based on the fact that it covers a wide array of actions and intentions. Aggravated assault is the act, or attempt of, physical violence with a weapon wherever injury occurs or not. This type of violenceis also classified as a physical act of violence resulting in serious harm or injury without the use of a weapon.

As another type of assault, simple assault, is the act, or attempted act, of physical violence resulting in either minor injury, or no injury, without a weapon.

The final classification includes sexual assault involving a person in an authoritative, supervisory, or disciplinary position who commits a sexual act without the consent of the victim. This type of assault encompasses the sexual contact with intimate body parts of a victim for the purpose of sexual gratification.

6. Child molestation

Although the class of violence in this act may have fewer levels of extreme physical injury, the scale begins to specifically address the more vulnerable victims of violent acts which typically requires less force based on levels of intimidation and authority over the victims. This type of violence is defined as an immoral, or indecent, act upon or in the presence of, a minor less than 16 years of age for sexual arousal or gratification. This also includes transmitting images of minors less than 16 involved in immoral or indecent acts for sexual gratification or arousal.

7. Domestic Violence

Based on another vulnerable population within victimology, this type of violence is categorized as the physical, verbal, or mental abuse, or the threat of abuse, between two intimate partners, roommates, or family members. This usually involves at least one person to person crime, or threat of a crime, such as assault, battery, or kidnapping which can occur inside or outside the home.

8. Child Abuse

With the lack of a sexual element to this type of violence, this act is defined by a parent, guardian, or supervisor of a child under 18 who willfully deprives necessities of life specifically condemning health or well-being. This is also classified as any person that maliciously, or with negligence, causes excessive or cruel mental or physical harm to a child under 18; or intentionally, with knowledge, allows a child to witness or hear crimes or violence.

9. Robbery

Although this act of violence may not target vulnerable populations, and less intimate intimidation is involved; it still contains the elements of possible injury. Specifically, this is the act, or attempt, of taking property from an individual by the action, or threat, of force. It can occur with or without a weapon, and resulting in physical harm or none at all.

10. Stalking

The scale ends in a form of violence that preys on more psychological and emotional harm than physical harm, yet still possesses the element of threatened physical harm. It is defined as any person that follows, puts under surveillance, or contacts another person without consent with the intent to harass or intimidate. It consists of communication via mail, computer, phone, broadcast or any electronic device at any public or private location occupied by the victim, with the intent to cause emotional distress or fear for safety for the victim or their family.

Overall, this is a useful scale when trying to understand how violent crimes may be adjudicated in the courts based on the potential corresponding punishments assigned by the courts, ranging from more to less severe as provided by each state.

This scale can also be a general tool to understand the background and meanings of these crimes and how each one may affect society at large (ie large groups of people vs. one person, economic issues, etc.). Also, understanding that violence can encompass elements threats, weapons, physical or psychological harm. It can include intentional and unintentional acts against victims that are close in proximity and relationship, to those far away that have no connection at all.

Finally, it is always a good exercise to contemplate the level of significance placed on some crimes over others. What do you think of this scale? Would you rank some offsets higher or lower on the scale? If so, why? Are there other types of violence you feel are appropriate to include in the scale?

These are questions that should be analyzed on all types criminal justice issues ranging from theory to community programs.

Incoming articles in this series, I will touch on how likely individuals can become victims of these crimes, along with the everyday activities that lead to being a victim of these crimes … These will totally surprise you.

Source by Eric Keith, Ph.D.

Written by sortiwa