Top Ten Ranking for Violent Crimes

This  is a continuum scale ranked from the most violent to the least violent crime based on the severity, amount of force needed to commit the crime and the overall potential rate of victimization.

1. Terrorism

Unlawful, or threatened, use of violence to intimidate or coerce a population or government.

Use of WMD attacks, assassinations, or kidnappings to force changes in policy or gain some type of advantage.


2.  Mass Murder

The killing of 4 or more persons during the same ongoing incident.

Killings occur at the same location, with no cooling off  time between mass incidents, by a single offender.

This differs from spree killing where 2 or more people are killed by the same individual(s) at different times and locations, with no cooling off period.

The third form of mass murder is serial killing where 3 or more people are killed generally by the same person over an extended period of time with a significant cooling off period. (years as opposed to hours).



3. Murder

Taking another person’s life with intentional malice.

Taking another person’s life in commission of a felony.



4. Manslaughter

Voluntary – Causes the death of another person from a sudden, violent, irresistible passion resulting from insufficient provocation.

Involuntary- Causes the death of another without any intention to do so outside of the commission of a felony.



5. Rape

A forcible act of sex against a female .

Or sex with a female less than 10 years of age.



6. Sexual Assault

A person in an authoritative, supervisory, or disciplinary position commits the sexual act without consent.

Nonconsensual sexual contact with intimate body parts for the purpose of sexual gratification.



7. Child Molestation

An immoral or indecent act to, or in the presence of, a minor less than 16 years of age for sexual arousal or gratification.

Transmits images of minors less than 16 involved in immoral or indecent acts for sexual gratification or arousal.



8. Domestic Violence

Physical, verbal, or mental abuse or the threat of abuse, between two intimate partners, roommates, or family members.

Involves at least one person to person crime, or threat of a crime, such as assault, battery, or kidnapping which can occur inside or outside the home.



9. Child Abuse

Parent, guardian, or supervisor of a child under 18 willfully deprives necessary sustenance jeopardizing health or well-being.

Any person that maliciously, or with negligence, causes excessive or cruel mental or physical harm to a child under 18; or intentionally, with knowledge, allows a child to witness or hear crimes or violence.



10. Stalking

Any person that follows, puts under surveillance, or contacts another person without consent with intent to harass or intimidate.

Consists of communication via mail, computer, phone, broadcast or any electronic device at any public or private location occupied by the victim, with the intent to cause emotional distress or fear for safety for the victim or their family.


This is a useful scale when attempting to understand how violent crimes are adjudicated in the courts based on the corresponding punishments ranging from more to less severe.

This scale can also be a general tool to understand the meanings of these crimes and how each one may impact society at large (i.e. large groups of people vs. one person, economic issues).

Finally, it is always a good exercise to contemplate the level of significance placed on some crimes over others. What do you think of this scale? Would you rank some offenses higher or lower on the scale? If so, why?

These are questions that should be contemplated on all types criminal justice issues ranging from theory to community programs.

In upcoming articles in this series, I will touch on how likely individuals are to be victims of these crimes, along with everyday activities that can lead to being a victim of these crimes…These will totally surprise you.


(Ardvarc, FBI, Lexis Nexis)