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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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 © 2018 Barry M. Baker