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Let's look at these two examples:  

Two men are involved in a heated verbal
argument.  One of the men loses it, and
he punches the other man one time in
the face with his fist.  While the punch is
well placed, it doesn't do that much
damage.  The victim sustains a noticeable
bruise, but the bruise to his ego is more
serious than the bruise to his face.  The
first man obviously committed an
assault.  Under UCR, this crime would be
classified as a Part Two crime since it
does not fit the criteria for a Part One
crime.  The assault is also a misdemeanor
versus a felony assault.

The second example involves the same
circumstances and actions as the first
example.  However, this time that same
punch inflicts a laceration to the victim's
lip which will require stitches to close the
laceration.  The assault now becomes a
Part One Aggravated Assault under UCR;
however, the crime is still a misdemeanor
offense.

Okay...let's make this a little more
complicated.  You write a common or
simple assault report for the first
example, and that's the end of that.  
Later in your shift, you're directed to a
hospital to investigate an assault.  You
discover that the victim is the same man
from the first example.

It seems that punch did a lot more
damage than was immediately evident.  
The victim has been hospitalized with a
concussion that was caused by the
impact of the punch.  Not a problem.  
You simply write a new report upgrading
the offense to Aggravated Assault.

Is the assault still a misdemeanor?  
Probably so.  A concussion is usually not
that serious, and it doesn't change the
original circumstances of the assault.  
But...let's say the victim's condition goes
south, and he ends up dying from
complications.  The suspect was
potentially facing a misdemeanor assault
charge.  Now, he's facing a felony assault
charge such as involuntary manslaughter.

As far as your reporting goes, you've
done everything right. You reported
everything accurately at the beginning.  
When circumstances warranted a change,
you upgraded the UCR classification.  
Since the man died, the UCR classification
will again be upgraded to Homicide.
A young officer was assigned to a patrol
area of a high crime area where a
supermarket was located.  The market
was plagued with a high rate of
shoplifting.  Keep in mind that shoplifting
is a theft/larcency, and a Part One crime
under UCR.

Shoplifters were routinely arrested and
charged by police officers following their
apprehension by the market's security
officers.  Most of the shoplifters were
drug addicted, and they seldom carried
any identification.  The young officer
made a number of arrests from the
market; until, one day he encountered a
suspect possessing a valid state driver's
license.  The thirty dollars worth of
steaks the woman had concealed was
recovered, and the woman made no
threats to anyone.

The officer obtained all the information
for his larceny report, and he provided
the security officer with the report
number necessary for the security officer
to obtain an arrest warrant.  An arrest
WHAT?  The security officer promptly
informed the police officer that they
never had to obtain arrest warrants in
the past.

Well, the store's security management
was having none of this nonsense, and
the police officer's supervisor was called.
Once the police officer's sergeant heard
the facts of the incident, he directed the
police officer to arrest the suspect.  The
police officer refused to arrest citing the
circumstances of the misdemeanor arrest
criteria.  The police sergeant told the
police officer that none of that mattered
since the crime committed was a UCR
Part One crime.

The confused and frustrated sergeant
would eventually call for another officer in
the squad who would follow the
sergeant's unlawful order and arrest the
suspect for the misdemeanor shoplifting.
Some police officers will go their entire
careers confusing Uniform Crime
Reporting (UCR) crime classifications with
their state criminal statutes.  Always
remember that UCR is a classification
system for uniformly reporting crime
from across the nation, and it has
nothing to do with how, or for what, a
person is charged under your state
criminal code.

One of the most common misconceptions
among police officers is the belief that a
Part One classification under UCR means
the offense is automatically a felony
versus a misdemeanor crime.  This
misunderstanding is most frequently
encountered with the classification of
Aggravated Assault.
You can save yourself a lot of confusion
by simply studying UCR and your state
criminal code with the understanding that
the two are not related.  You'll educate
yourself, and you'll find that education
most fulfilling.  There's no better feeling
than knowing what you're doing.

Once you're up to speed on UCR and the
state criminal code, you'll wonder why so
many other police officers are confused.  
You'll also wonder how so many people
rise to the higher ranks of police
departments with their confusion firmly
intact.

You'll soon learn that most police
departments like to see an arrest
accompany the report of a UCR Part One
crime.  This desire is fueled by a desire to
match Part One crimes with clearances for
statistical purposes.

Let's go back to the second example
where the victim sustained the lacerated
lip requiring stitches.  The crime is a UCR
Part One, but can you arrest the
suspect?  Well, it depends on your state
law governing arrests for misdemeanor
crimes not committed in the police
officer's presence.  If you're a police
officer in the State of Maryland, you
would have to follow three criteria.  Can
the suspect be identified; will evidence be
lost or destroyed, and does the suspect
represent a continuing threat to the
victim?  If the answers are yes; no, and
no respectively, you should not arrest
the suspect until an arrest warrant is
obtained either by you or the victim.

You'll soon learn that people often make
themselves prime for arrest under
misdemeanor circumstances by not
carrying valid identification or by running
their mouths making threats to the victim
in your presence.  Just remember...make
arrests for misdemeanors not committed
in your presence under lawful direction by
state law...not by UCR classification.

Once you start doing everything right,
you're going to upset people:
You'll definitely run into similar
circumstances sooner than later.  As in
the above example, you'll learn that being
a supervisor doesn't make one immune
from the confusion over UCR.  If you're
wondering about the fate of the police
officer in this example, I suffered no ill
effects from my refusal to arrest.  In fact,
a few months later, the department
issued a directive regarding misdemeanor
shoplifting arrests citing the
misdemeanor arrest criteria.  Sometimes,
doing things right actually does get
noticed.
Confusion
Over UCR
"One of the most common
misconceptions among police officers
is the belief that a Part One
classification under UCR means the
offense is automatically a felony
versus a misdemeanor crime."
~ Barry M. Baker
Copyright © 2016  Barry M. Baker  
CareerPoliceOfficer.com
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