Should Burglary Be Considered a Violent Crime?

In a report recently made available by NIJ through the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, authors Richard F. Culp, Ph.D., Phillip M. Kopp, Ph.D., and Candace McCoy, J.D., Ph.D. examined national data to determine whether burglary should be considered a violent crime.

From the abstract of “Is Burglary a Crime of Violence? An Analysis of National Data 1998-2007”:

Traditionally considered an offense committed against the property of another, burglary is nevertheless often regarded as a violent crime. For purposes of statistical description, both the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) list it as a property crime. But burglary is prosecuted as a violent crime under the federal Armed Career Criminal Act, is sentenced in accord with violent crimes under the United States Sentencing Guidelines, and is regarded as violent in state law depending on varied circumstances.
The United States Supreme Court has treated burglary as either violent or non-violent in different cases. This study explored the circumstances of crimes of burglary and matched them to state and federal laws. Analyzing UCR, NCVS, and the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data collections for the 10-year period 1998-2007, it became clear that the majority of burglaries do not involve physical violence and scarcely even present the possibility of physical violence.
Overall, the incidence of actual violence or threats of violence during burglary ranged from a low of .9 percent in rural areas based upon NIBRS data, to a high of 7.6 percent in highly urban areas based upon NCVS data. At most, 2.7 percent of burglaries involved actual acts of violence. A comprehensive content analysis of the provisions of state burglary and habitual offender statutes showed that burglary is often treated as a violent crime instead of prosecuting and punishing it as a property crime while separately charging and punishing for any violent acts that occasionally co-occur with it.
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