Making Sense of a Crime Report

When a police officer investigates incidences, they will jot down notes in an official crime report before issuing a ticket or arrest warrant. These reports are part of the often public record and shared by police agencies to help expedite the justice process. 

How to Read Crime Reports

Every crime report needs to contain certain obligatory elements for the sake of clarity. A crime report must have a valid heading. When someone looks at the crime report, they must have a precise idea of what the writer wants to say. The title must be clear and concise. The headline may be in the form of a short phrase or a simple sentence. It is possible to use one word as a heading. However, its meaning must be easily understood.

Following the heading comes an introduction. It must be only one paragraph that gives a reader a brief idea about the content of the body of the report.

The body is next. The body is nothing else but the detailed occurrence of the event that is being reported. Depending on the various points discussed, the body is made up of as many paragraphs as required. Each section must contain one central location. Once the main point is exhausted, only then it is advisable to move on to the next paragraph.

Subsequent is a conclusion. The conclusion is a summary that mentions all the points introduced in the body of the report. It is prudent for the end not to be longer than one paragraph also.

Finally, every crime report requires a recommendation that has its place in the end. It is an expression of a notion of the writer about the whole case. The author must base the judgment on available evidence and nothing else.

What Is the Uniform Crime Report?

To enable the reliable reporting of consistent crime statistics in the U.S.A., IACP or the International Association of Chiefs of Police started a program of Uniform Crime Report in 1929. In 1930, the FBI undertook the responsibility of collecting, archiving and publishing this data.

Today, the FBI receives high quantities of data through the Unifrom Crime Report Program (UCR). This information is compiled and published in four annual publications, “National Incident-Based Reporting System,” “Crime in the United States,” “Hate Crime Statistics,” and “Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted.”

There are over 18,000 university/college, municipality, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies that participate in UCR. Rockville City Police Department, which patrols the third-largest city in Maryland in cooperation with the Montgomery County Police Department, is one such law enforcement agency.

What Is Uniform Crime Report Used For?

UCR program is a highly valuable tool. It is one of the instruments to measure crime statistics. However, analysts should not rely upon a conclusion based on UCR alone.

There are several essential aspects that one needs to understand while analyzing a Uniform Crime Report. UCR divides offenses into two categories. The first type is violent crimes, or Part I offenses, such as rape, murder, robbery, fondling, and aggravated assault.

The second category is property crimes, such as robbery, burglary, and motor vehicle theft. In 1982, lawgivers added arson to the list of Part I offenses. In cooperation with the National Fire Data Center, it is prepared as a particular statistics report. Its results must be made public.

Offenses of domestic violence are also presented as a list of individual items, such as manslaughter, murder, fondling, rape, aggravated stalking, aggravated assault, threat and intimidation, simple assault, and simple stalking.

In Maryland, the law defines domestic violence “abuse” – an incident in which one or more of the following acts occur: 

  • Assault; 
  • A bill that places a person in fear of immediate serious bodily harm; 
  • A statement that causes serious bodily injury; 
  • Rape or sexual offense; 
  • Attempt rape or sexual battery; 
  • Stalking; 
  • False imprisonment. 

However, the domestic violence definition varies from state to state. That is why UCR reporting of this offense is hard to track.

Also, some assaults and arrests within one report usually do not match. For example, some cases may be closed without a seizure. However, this does not mean that offenses are not going to be listed in the UCR.

Another inaccuracy comes with the definition of rape, which was changed in 2011. Although all law enforcement agencies are advised to use the revised definition, some still use the old definition. For that reason, the FBI does not show statistics in the percentual change column in the statistics of the UCR.

If you wish to learn more about the Uniform Crime Report, visit the FBI’s website dedicated to a Uniform Crime Report.

How to Report a Crime

Either you can file a police report with your local police department or file charges with a commissioner. If the police file charges, the Office of State’s Attorney and the court will become involved automatically. If the police do not file charges, on your own, you may submit an Application for Statement of Charges.

The commissioner will issue a charging document if he or she determines probable cause based on your request. The commissioner will either issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest or issue a summons for the accused to appear in court at a later date. The document will then be sent to the appropriate law enforcement agency. The agency will either arrest him or her, or serve the summons on the accused person.

Finally, you may be required to appear as a witness in a trial. It would be best if you stood in a hearing on a set date. If you choose to disregard a court order, the police may arrest you for failing to obey a court order. See this to learn more

Criminal Defense Lawyer Consultations

In case you have any inquiries on how to make sense of a Rockville crime report, do not hesitate to contact us. Or perhaps you or your family member had contact with the criminal justice system. In such an event, surely, you have questions about criminal justice and procedure. Why not schedule a free consultation? At RP&B Law, we have decades of combined expertise, and we are looking forward to serving you.