Defining and Measuring Crime

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Defining and Measuring Crime
Introduction
This module will examine the importance of criminal data and its effect on the criminal justice system. For instance, is it important for a law enforcement agency to evaluate the crimes occurring in their city or jurisdiction? Is it important for citizens to know how safe is the area in which they live? If so, how is that information gathered and disseminated to the general public? How does the law enforcement component of the criminal justice system use the information to reduce crime or even predict it in the future? With the advent of applicable technology, law enforcement agencies and criminologists are now examining crime patterns, suspect information, as well as date and time of crimes in an effort to predict probable occurrences and locations of future crimes.
What is Crime?
When is a legal problem criminal or civil? What is the difference between the two? Some would say the difference would be the punishment, while others would say it would be the burden of proof needed to prove a case. Civil law examines the rights and duties of one individual to another. One of the main areas considered in civil litigation is the relationship of consumers, businesses, and contracts. A breach of the civil law could result in an action brought by the claimant (plaintiff) against the defendant. The burden of proof in civil law is upon the claimant who must prove the case by a preponderance of evidence.
Criminal law involves protecting society, while punishing and rehabilitating those who violate the criminal laws. Most prosecutions are brought by the police to the prosecutors who file charges against the accused. The burden of proof in criminal law is beyond a reasonable doubt. O.J. Simpson was found "not guilty" in the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman because the state could not prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, in a civil suit filed by the Goldman family, O.J. Simpson was found guilty by a

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