Criminology For Dummies book cover

Criminology For Dummies

By: Steven Briggs Published: 05-18-2021

Explore the world of crime and punishment

Police, forensics, and detective stories dominate our TV screens and bookshelves—from fictional portrayals such as Silence of the Lambs and Law and Order to lurid accounts of real-life super-criminals like Pablo Escobar and Al Capone. As well as being horribly fascinating, knowledge of what makes criminals tick is crucial to governments, who spend billions of dollars each year trying to keep their people safe. Criminology brings disciplines like psychology, biology, and economics together to help police and society solve crimes—and to prevent them before they even happen.

The new edition of Criminology For Dummies shines a light into the dark recesses of the criminal mind and goes behind-the-scenes with society’s response to crime, putting you right on the mean streets with cops and criminals alike. Along the way, you’ll learn everything a rookie needs to survive, including basic definitions of what a crime is and how it’s measured; common criminal motivations, thinking, and traits; elementary crime-solving techniques; the effects on and rights of victims; and more.

  • Understand types of crime, from white-collar to organized to terror attacks
  • Follow law-enforcement officials and agencies as they hunt the bad guys
  • Meet key players in criminal justice and see how and why the guilty are punished
  • Check out jobs in the field

Whether you plan to enter the criminal justice field or just want to know more about what turns some people to the dark side—and how the thin blue line fights back—this is your perfect guide to criminology basics.

Articles From Criminology For Dummies

3 results
3 results
Criminology For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 06-26-2021

Immersing yourself in the behavioral science of criminology involves analyzing the tools and approaches for helping you, and society as a whole, understand and even control criminal behavior. From interpreting the legal terminology of the various types of violent crime, to examining the important theories as to why people commit crimes, criminological research gives you the knowledge you need to follow crime trends.

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Defining the Different Types of Violent Crime

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

In criminology, how a violent crime is approached depends very much on how the crime is defined. So many different legal terms exist for various forms of violent crimes that it’s often hard for people to keep track of what means what. Following are simple yet detailed definitions of some common types of violent crimes: Homicide: The killing of one person by another (regardless of the circumstances). Murder: The intentional killing of another human being. First-degree murder: A term some states use to refer to an intentional killing. Second-degree murder: A term some states use to refer to an unintentional killing in which the killer demonstrates “extreme indifference to human life” or “wanton disregard” for the life of the victim. Felony murder: A term some states use for a death that occurs during the commission of a serious felony, such as robbery or kidnapping. (All participants in such a felony can be charged with murder.) Manslaughter: The unintentional killing of another person, where the killer engages in reckless conduct that causes a death. Negligent homicide: The causing of someone’s death through negligence. Battery: The act of making offensive physical contact with someone. Assault: The threat of a battery, or an attempted battery, without actual physical contact. Simple assault or battery: The act of causing someone low-level — not serious — physical injury. Aggravated assault or battery: Serious felony conduct that involves the use of a dangerous or deadly weapon or that results in serious injury. Vehicular assault: Dangerous driving that results in injury to another. Spousal assault (also called domestic assault or intimate partner violence): Violence between domestic partners. Rape: The act of forcibly compelling someone to have sexual intercourse, or sexual intercourse between an adult and a partner under the age of 18, or the act of having intercourse with someone whom the law deems incapable of consent because of a mental handicap. Sodomy: The act of having forced anal or oral sex with someone, or the consensual act of participating in those same acts between an adult and a juvenile.

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Important Theories in Criminology: Why People Commit Crime

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

In criminology, examining why people commit crime is very important in the ongoing debate of how crime should be handled and prevented. Many theories have emerged over the years, and they continue to be explored, individually and in combination, as criminologists seek the best solutions in ultimately reducing types and levels of crime. Here is a broad overview of some key theories: Rational choice theory: People generally act in their self-interest and make decisions to commit crime after weighing the potential risks (including getting caught and punished) against the rewards. Social disorganization theory: A person’s physical and social environments are primarily responsible for the behavioral choices that person makes. In particular, a neighborhood that has fraying social structures is more likely to have high crime rates. Such a neighborhood may have poor schools, vacant and vandalized buildings, high unemployment, and a mix of commercial and residential property. Strain theory: Most people have similar aspirations, but they don’t all have the same opportunities or abilities. When people fail to achieve society’s expectations through approved means such as hard work and delayed gratification, they may attempt to achieve success through crime. Social learning theory: People develop motivation to commit crime and the skills to commit crime through the people they associate with. Social control theory: Most people would commit crime if not for the controls that society places on individuals through institutions such as schools, workplaces, churches, and families. Labeling theory: People in power decide what acts are crimes, and the act of labeling someone a criminal is what makes him a criminal. Once a person is labeled a criminal, society takes away his opportunities, which may ultimately lead to more criminal behavior. Biology, genetics, and evolution: Poor diet, mental illness, bad brain chemistry, and even evolutionary rewards for aggressive criminal conduct have been proposed as explanations for crime.

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