What Are Crimes Against the Person?

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What Are Crimes Against the Person?

If you’ve been arrested or think you will soon be a defendant facing charges, it’s critical to understand the situation. Understanding the various types of crimes, particularly those against a person, provides you with insight into how to navigate the complex legal landscape when you find yourself in these circumstances. 

Fortunately, you do not have to handle it alone. If you need help with a criminal charge, don’t hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney.

Crimes Against Property

These crimes are targeted towards another person’s property instead of their person directly. This could range from small-scale incidents such as shoplifting and vandalism to larger ones like burglary and arson. 

Crimes Against Society

Crimes against society, sometimes referred to as “victimless crimes,” involve offenses that can harm public order and violate societal norms. While these crimes may not directly cause physical harm to a person or property, they are often considered detrimental to the overall well-being of a community. Some examples include drug offenses, prostitution, and gambling.  

Crimes Against The Person

These crimes involve direct harm or threat toward an individual, often causing physical or emotional injuries. In California, 9 types of crimes are outlined by the criminal code as crimes against the person:


This is the most severe crime against a person, resulting in the unlawful killing of an individual. Homicide is broken down into two specific categories, first-degree and second-degree homicide.

First-degree homicide is reserved for premeditated actions where the perpetrator planned the act beforehand. Second-degree homicide refers to heat-of-the-moment killings.


Mayhem involves intentionally inflicting severe physical harm upon another individual, leaving them permanently disabled or disfigured.

Examples of mayhem include cutting off a person’s limbs, permanently damaging their eyesight, or disfiguring their face. 


Kidnapping occurs when someone unlawfully abducts and confines another individual against their will through force, threats, or coercion. This is an incredibly serious crime against the person.


Taking hostages is a crime that can relate to false imprisonment. This can be committed by someone trying to protect themselves from arrest, and in doing so, they risk causing psychological or physical harm to the victim. 


Robbery is another crime against the person that’s defined as taking property from another individual against their will through force or fear. 

Attempts To Kill

Attempted murder is another serious crime against the person. It is defined as intentionally taking actions with the intent to kill another individual but failing to do so.

This can be charged as either first or second-degree attempted murder, depending on the specifics of the case. 

Assaults With Intent To Commit a Felony

Assault with intent to commit a felony is sometimes (depending on the exact charges) an extremely serious crime against an individual, in which an offender not only seeks to use violence or force against an individual but also plans to commit a felony at the same time.

False Imprisonment and Human Trafficking

Another form of crime against persons is false imprisonment and human trafficking, in which someone unlawfully restricts an individual without their consent, thus violating their personal freedom. 

Human trafficking charges also apply if someone forces another individual to perform services or labor against their will.

Assault and Battery

When discussing crimes against a person, “assault” and “battery” are two terms that come up frequently. Understanding the distinction between the two is crucial. 

Assault refers to a deliberate act that creates a fear of imminent harmful or offensive contact with another person. Assault does not involve physical touch or injury – it’s connected with intentional intimidation. 

On the other hand, battery is the unlawful and intentional use of violence or force against another person that results in injury.

Penalties for Crimes Against the Person

Penalties associated with crimes against the person can vary widely, depending primarily on the jurisdiction, nature of the crime, your criminal history, and the existence of any aggravating factors. Depending on the crime, it can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. 

Upon conviction, you face a range of consequences, primarily including monetary fines, probation, and jail or prison sentences.

If you’ve been arrested for a crime against a person, don’t lose hope; there are legal defenses that can be raised. Some of the most common include the following:

Lack of Intent

Lack of intent is a commonly used defense in crimes against the person, as these offenses typically require that the act committed was done intentionally. For example, if you are charged with battery but your lawyer can provide evidence that you hit someone by accident, you could be found not guilty.

Alibi Defense

An alibi defense is used in criminal law when a defendant asserts they were at a different location at the time of the alleged crime and, therefore, could not have committed it. 

The evidence supporting an alibi can take various forms, including witness testimonies stating that they saw or were in the company of you at relevant times, thus confirming your whereabouts. Additionally, documents such as credit card statements, receipts, or surveillance footage might corroborate your claim of being elsewhere during the alleged offense. 


If you can demonstrate that you were defending yourself or another person from an imminent threat, then self-defense becomes a viable defense to the allegations.

Mistaken Identity

Mistaken identity is another possible defense to crimes against the person. To make a compelling case for mistaken identity, accused individuals and their legal teams must scrutinize the evidence against them, pointing out inconsistencies and exploring alternate explanations for why they may have been mistakenly targeted. 

Some key factors that can support a mistaken identity defense include:

  • Weak or unreliable eyewitness testimony
  • Circumstantial evidence that doesn’t directly link the accused to the crime
  • Similarities between the accused and the actual perpetrator, such as physical appearance or clothing

By analyzing these factors and presenting a coherent alternative narrative, it may be possible to cast doubt on the accused’s guilt and achieve a favorable outcome.

Crimes against the person should never be taken lightly; if you find yourself facing charges, always speak with a lawyer to discuss your best next steps. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced San Jose criminal defense attorney.

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