Crimes Against Persons: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:04 Crimes Against People
  • 0:34 Assault
  • 1:45 Domestic Violence
  • 2:29 Stalking
  • 3:32 Kidnapping
  • 4:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Williams

Jennifer has taught various courses in U.S. Government, Criminal Law, Business, Public Administration and Ethics and has an MPA and a JD.

In this lesson, we will learn about crimes against people. We will look at what these crimes are and what they mean and take a closer look at some specific examples.

Crimes Against People

Crimes against people are a category of crime that consists of offenses that usually involve causing or attempting to cause bodily harm or a threat of bodily harm. These actions are taken without the consent of the individual the crime is committed against, or the victim. These types of crimes do not have to result in actual harm - the fact that bodily harm could have resulted and that the victim is put in fear for his/her safety is sufficient.


Assault is a crime against a person that involves causing or attempting to cause physical harm to another person. Typically, when a person is seriously injured or the crime involves a deadly weapon, such as a gun, then it is considered an aggravated offense and the level of crime is enhanced and the punishment is more severe. An assault is considered a criminal offense that is punishable by jail or prison time. An assault can also include a threat of physical harm.

An example of an assault would be if two people got into a fight at a grocery store. Then, person A struck person B in the face. It would also be an assault if person A swung at person B, attempting to strike him in the face, and missed.

Additionally, using our example, in order to have an actual criminal assault, person A must have the intent, or the general purpose to commit the assault. In other words, one cannot 'accidentally' assault someone. They must have the general intent to commit the crime in order to be charged with it.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a crime against the person that involves a violent act taken by one family or household member against another. This act can be physical harm or psychological harm. The level of offense and the punishment for committing the crime depends on how many times the offender has done it before and how serious the injury received was.

Domestic violence can be committed against any partner, regardless of sex and regardless of marital status. It can also be committed between siblings or between parent and child. An example of domestic violence would be if a wife struck her husband or a boyfriend struck his girlfriend.


Stalking is a type of crime against a person that is an unwanted pattern of contact with another person. Stalking is made up of a pattern of contact, such as sitting outside of someone's house, sending them letters, making phone calls or otherwise threatening them. The punishment for stalking depends on the amount of contact, whether the person has gotten in trouble for it before and the seriousness of the contact.

Stalking puts the victim in fear for his/her safety due to the fact that the other person is incapable of 'leaving them alone.' A person can be charged with stalking regardless of whether he or she had a prior relationship with the victim or not. An example of stalking would be if a man spent a significant number of hours every day following a woman. He may call her, follow her home from work, send her emails and sit outside of her house. He knows that this contact is not wanted and puts the woman in fear for her safety. This man could be charged with stalking.

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