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NIBRS - Nothing But Offense(s)!

The first and often most important questions about NIBRS all focus on one thing - Classifying Crimes! Today we will be taking you on a slightly deeper dive on these Offenses and the bins you have to fit them in. First thing first - you need to get comfortable with the idea that the charge you use and the way you classify the crime MAY be different depending on your agency or state policies, and specific situations. This is NOT a problem - it is actually the way the FBI wants it done. The definitions that were developed for NIBRS are not meant to be used for charging persons with crimes. They are simply a way of categorizing or organizing the crimes committed throughout the United States on an even playing field. Since this data will be used in publications and guide policy it is very important to have a fair way to view the data at a national level.

State statutes must be very specific in defining crimes so that persons facing prosecution will know the exact charges being placed against them. NIBRS must be generic in order not to exclude varying state

statutes relating to the same types of crimes. Because State and Federal Law often use the same original source material and definitions as UCR did for NIBRS and SRS, most of the crimes will fit fairly neatly into one of the classifications. However this is not always the case. An easy example is Larceny, Some states have larceny statutes that include the crime of embezzlement. When embezzlements are perpetrated within these states, the offenses must be reported to NIBRS as embezzlements, not larcenies.

So without further ado lets dig into the classifications we will use in our NIBRS Reporting. Just a note - we are using the official definitions the FBI Provides here . More information is always available from their official site for law enforcement here . Exceptions are listing in red.

Group A Offenses

Animal cruelty

Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly taking an action that mistreats or kills any animal without just cause, such as torturing, tormenting, mutilation, maiming, poisoning, or abandonment. Included are instances of duty to provide care, e.g., shelter, food, water, care if sick or injured; transporting or confining an animal in a manner likely to cause injury or death; causing an animal to fight with another; inflicting excessive or repeated unnecessary pain or suffering, e.g., uses objects to beat or torture an animal.

This definition does not include proper maintenance of animals for show or sport; use of animals for food, lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping.


To unlawfully and intentionally damage, or attempt to damage, any real or personal property by fire or incendiary device

Assault Offenses

An unlawful attack by one person upon another

Aggravated Assault

An unlawful attack by one person upon another wherein the offender uses a weapon or displays it in a threatening manner, or the victim suffers obvious severe or aggravated bodily injury involving apparent broken bones, loss of teeth, possible internal injury, severe laceration, or loss of consciousness. This also includes assault with disease (as in cases when the offender is aware that he/she is infected with a deadly disease and deliberately attempts to inflict the disease by biting, spitting, etc.)

Simple Assault

An unlawful physical attack by one person upon another where neither the offender displays a weapon, nor the victim suffers obvious severe or aggravated bodily injury involving apparent broken bones, loss of teeth, possible internal injury, severe laceration, or loss of consciousness


To unlawfully place another person in reasonable fear of bodily harm through the use of threatening words and/or other conduct, but without displaying a weapon or subjecting the victim to actual physical attack


The offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of anything of value (i.e., a bribe, gratuity, or kickback) to sway the judgment or action of a person in a position of trust or influence

Except Sports Bribery

Burglary/Breaking and Entering

The unlawful entry into a building or other structure with the intent to commit a felony or a theft


The altering, copying, or imitation of something, without authority or right, with the intent to deceive or defraud by passing the copy or thing altered or imitated as that which is original or genuine; or the selling, buying, or possession of an altered, copied, or imitated thing with the intent to deceive or defraud

Destruction/Damage/Vandalism of Property

To willfully or maliciously destroy, damage, deface, or otherwise injure real or personal property without the consent of the owner or the person having custody or control of it

Except Arson

Drug/Narcotic Offenses

The violation of laws prohibiting the production, distribution, and/or use of certain controlled substances and the equipment or devices utilized in their preparation and/or use

Except Driving Under the Influence

Drug/Narcotic Violations

The unlawful cultivation, manufacture, distribution, sale, purchase, use, possession, transportation, or importation of any controlled drug or narcotic substance

Drug Equipment Violations

The unlawful manufacture, sale, purchase, possession, or transportation of equipment or devices utilized in preparing and/or using drugs or narcotics


The unlawful misappropriation by an offender to his/her own use or purpose of money, property, or some other thing of value entrusted to his/her care, custody, or control


To unlawfully obtain money, property, or any other thing of value, either tangible or intangible, through the use or threat of force, misuse of authority, threat of criminal prosecution, threat of destruction of reputation or social standing, or through other coercive means

Fraud Offenses

The intentional perversion of the truth for the purpose of inducing another person, or other entity, in reliance upon it to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right

Except Counterfeiting/Forgery and Bad Checks

False Pretenses/Swindle/Confidence Game

The intentional misrepresentation of existing fact or condition, or the use of some other deceptive scheme or device, to obtain money, goods, or other things of value

Credit Card/Automated Teller Machine Fraud

The unlawful use of a credit (or debit) card or automated teller machine for fraudulent purposes


Falsely representing one’s identity or position, and acting in the character or position thus unlawfully assumed, to deceive others and thereby gain a profit or advantage, enjoy some right or privilege, or subject another person or entity to an expense, charge, or liability which would not have otherwise been incurred

Welfare Fraud

The use of deceitful statements, practices, or devices to unlawfully obtain welfare benefits

Wire Fraud

The use of an electric or electronic communications facility to intentionally transmit a false and/or deceptive message in furtherance of a fraudulent activity

Identity theft

Wrongfully obtaining and using another person’s personal data (e.g., name, date of birth, Social Security number, driver’s license number, credit card number).

Hacking/Computer Invasion

Wrongfully gaining access to another person’s or institution’s computer software, hardware, or networks without authorized permissions or security clearances.

Gambling Offenses

To unlawfully bet or wager money or something else of value; assist, promote, or operate a game of chance for money or some other stake; possess or transmit wagering information; manufacture, sell, purchase, possess, or transport gambling equipment, devices or goods; or tamper with the outcome of a sporting event or contest to gain a gambling advantage


To unlawfully stake money or something else of value on the happening of an uncertain event or on the ascertainment of a fact in dispute

Operating/Promoting/Assisting Gambling

To unlawfully operate, promote, or assist in the operation of a game of chance, lottery, or other gambling activity

Gambling Equipment Violations

To unlawfully manufacture, sell, buy, possess, or transport equipment, devices, and/or goods used for gambling purposes

Sports Tampering

To unlawfully alter, meddle in, or otherwise interfere with a sporting contest or event for the purpose of gaining a gambling advantage

Murder and Nonnegligent Manslaughter

The willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another

Negligent Manslaughter

The killing of another person through negligence

Justifiable Homicide

The killing of a perpetrator of a serious criminal offense by a peace officer in the line of duty, or the killing, during the commission of a serious criminal offense, of the perpetrator by a private individual

This is not a crime in the UCR Program.

Human Trafficking Offenses

The inducement of a person to perform a commercial sex act, or labor, or services, through force, fraud, or coercion

Human Trafficking, Commercial Sex Acts

Inducing a person by force, fraud, or coercion to participate in commercial sex acts, or in which the person induced to perform such act(s) has not attained 18 years of age

Human Trafficking, Involuntary Servitude

The obtaining of a person(s) through recruitment, harboring, transportation, or provision, and subjecting such persons to force, fraud, or coercion into voluntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery (not to include commercial sex acts)


The unlawful seizure, transportation, and/or detention of a person against his/her will, or of a minor without the consent of his/her custodial parent(s) or legal guardian

Larceny/Theft Offenses

The unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property from the possession, or constructive possession, of another person


The theft of articles from another person’s physical possession by stealth where the victim usually does not become immediately aware of the theft


The grabbing or snatching of a purse, handbag, etc., from the physical possession of another person


The theft, by someone other than an employee of the victim, of goods or merchandise exposed for sale

Theft from Building

A theft from within a building which is either open to the general public or where the offender has legal access

Theft from Coin-Operated Machine or Device

A theft from a machine or device which is operated or activated by the use of coins

Theft from Motor Vehicle

The theft of articles from a motor vehicle, whether locked or unlocked (Except Theft of Motor Vehicle Parts or Accessories)

Theft of Motor Vehicle Parts or Accessories

The theft of any part or accessory affixed to the interior or exterior of a motor vehicle in a manner which would make the item an attachment of the vehicle, or necessary for its operation

All Other Larceny

All thefts which do not fit any of the definitions of the specific subcategories of Larceny/Theft listed above

Motor Vehicle Theft

The theft of a motor vehicle

Pornography/Obscene Material

The violation of laws or ordinances prohibiting the manufacture, publishing, sale, purchase, or possession of sexually explicit material, e.g., literature, photographs, etc.

Prostitution Offenses

To unlawfully engage in or promote sexual activities for anything of value


To engage in commercial sex acts for anything of value

Assisting or Promoting Prostitution

To solicit customers or transport persons for prostitution purposes; to own, manage, or operate a dwelling or other establishment for the purpose of providing a place where prostitution is performed; or to otherwise assist or promote prostitution

Purchasing Prostitution

To purchase or trade anything of value for commercial sex acts


The taking, or attempting to take, anything of value under confrontational circumstances from the control, custody, or care of another person by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear of immediate harm

Sex Offenses

Any sexual act including Rape, Sodomy, Sexual Assault With An Object, or Fondling directed against another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent; also unlawful sexual intercourse


The carnal knowledge of a person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity

(Except Statutory Rape)


Oral or anal sexual intercourse with another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity

Sexual Assault With An Object

To use an object or instrument to unlawfully penetrate, however slightly, the genital or anal opening of the body of another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity


The touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity


Nonforcible sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law

Statutory Rape

Nonforcible sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent

Stolen Property Offenses

Receiving, buying, selling, possessing, concealing, or transporting any property with the knowledge that it has been unlawfully taken, as by Burglary, Embezzlement, Fraud, Larceny, Robbery, etc.

Weapon Law Violations

The violation of laws or ordinances prohibiting the manufacture, sale, purchase, transportation, possession, concealment, or use of firearms, cutting instruments, explosives, incendiary devices, or other deadly weapons

Congratulations - you survived the trek through all of the Group A Crimes. These are obviously the most serious of crimes the UCR Program is collecting data about. Now we will quickly go through the lesser Group B crimes and their summaries.

Group B Offenses

Bad Checks

Knowingly and intentionally writing and/or negotiating checks drawn against insufficient or nonexistent funds

Curfew/Loitering/Vagrancy Violations

The violation of a court order, regulation, ordinance, or law requiring the withdrawal of persons from the streets or other specified areas; prohibiting persons from remaining in an area or place in an idle or aimless manner; or prohibiting persons from going from place to place without visible means of support

Disorderly Conduct

Any behavior that tends to disturb the public or decorum, scandalize the community, or shock the public sense of morality

Driving Under the Influence

Driving or operating a motor vehicle or common carrier while mentally or physically impaired as the result of consuming an alcoholic beverage or using a drug or narcotic


To drink alcoholic beverages to the extent that one’s mental faculties and physical coordination are substantially impaired

Except Driving Under the Influence

Family Offenses, Nonviolent

Unlawful, nonviolent acts by a family member (or legal guardian) that threaten the physical, mental, or economic well-being or morals of another family member and that are not classifiable as other offenses, such as Assault, Incest, Statutory Rape, etc.

Liquor Law Violations

The violation of laws or ordinances prohibiting the manufacture, sale, purchase, transportation, possession, or use of alcoholic beverages

Except Driving Under the Influence and Drunkenness

Peeping Tom

To secretly look through a window, doorway, keyhole, or other aperture for the purpose of voyeurism

Trespass of Real Property

To unlawfully enter land, a dwelling, or other real property

All Other Offenses

All crimes that are not Group A offenses and not included in one of the specifically named Group B offense categories listed previously

Your RMS is your friend!

You may be thinking to yourself - how am I going to keep this all straight! The more you do it, the more common sense it becomes. On top of that you should have a great tool at your fingertips - a good RMS. Your Records Management System can do the hard work for you. When you are entering your cases and charging your Arrestees, the crimes you choose should be automatically classified for you. This way you don't even have to think about it - your RMS already knows. Even better - a better RMS can do your filing for you. - e-filing with your State or the FBI directly and more importantly - catching your errors before they do! A great RMS can even catch some errors as they are being entered, making the days much less hair raising for your NIBRS staff. Long story short - while you need to know the classifications from a high level, the tools you use everyday can go along way to making sure you don't have to worry too much about the details.

Speaking of details - keep an eye open. In a few months we will be highlighting some of the "Special Cases" or "Gotchas" in a new NIBRS segment dedicated to highlighting some of the real world situations that occur that make State Reporting folks want to pull their hair out. Good news - we'll save yours by walking you though it and explaining.


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