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Comparing Various Criminal Offender Groups

Updated on September 24, 2014

A mentally disordered person is described by Bartol & Bartol (2011) to be a person who has a mental impairment, perhaps a pathology, that makes the ability to manage day to day life greatly more difficult than the non-disordered person. This person cannot function in a normal capacity, and this may be acted out in crime or aggression. These mental disorders include schizophrenia, delusional disorder, depressive disorders, antisocial personalities, post-traumatic stress disorder, pathological gambling disorder, and dissociative disorder. Some of these may be caused by biological mental illness, while others are induced by traumatic long-term or one-time events.

The sex offender puts a sexual slant on a crime, as their crimes are sexually motivated. These crimes may be aggressive or not, and may or may not impose physical injury on the victim. “Instrumental sexual aggression is when the sexual offender uses just enough coercion to gain compliance from his victim. In expressive sexual aggression, the offender's primary aim is to harm the victim physically as well as psychologically” (Bartol & Bartol, 2011). Either way, the victims will bear a unique scar from the incredibly personal nature of the crime. The sex offender may be a rapist, child molester, the voyeur, or the exhibitionist.

In the case of the child molester, the perpetrator does not usually need to be violent. Sometimes they are, with their intent on harming the child. The exhibitionist is a nonviolent offender, as reflected by the modis operendi; shocking the victim instead of injuring them. The rapist is sometimes violent, but may prefer to drug their victim to gain compliance. The voyeur will seek to avoid any direct contact with the victim. If this factor changes, then usually the crime changes with it.

The violent offender is obvious. Their crime includes violence, and that could be as minor as simple assault or as major as homicide. The violence is sometimes premeditated, and other times impulsive and reactive. The violence may be perpetrated by itself or during the commission of another crime. One of the four classifications of homicide, for example, by Roberts, Zgoba, and Shahidullah (2007) was offenders who killed while committing another crime. Violent offenders may take as few as one victim or hundreds. Sometimes they will take their own lives after taking the lives of others.

Family violence is any violent act that is inflicted on a member of a person's family. Wallace & Seymour (2001) include the acts of assault, intimidation, battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, or anything that causes injury or death of a family member in the definition. Family violence is an especially painful crime for the victim, as not only are they physically assaulted, but emotionally as well. Also, the victims are readily available when the perpetrator loses control, putting them directly in harm's way when the proverbial stuff hits the fan. It is harder to avoid and escape this crime as it happens in the victim's living environment in so many cases.

The mentally disordered person may or may not offend, and if they do, they may or may not be violent. Although the general opinion is that a person must be mentally disordered to victimize another human being, this is not usually the case. The similarities between these two typologies is when the violent offender is indeed mentally disordered, and when the mentally disordered person turns to violence against someone. The split in the road is when the mentally disordered person does not commit a violent act.

The violent offender and family violent offender are very similar, and only different in who their victims are and were the violence happens. The term “violent offender” is very broad, whereas the term family violent offender can be described as a subclass of the violent offender. While a violent offender would be differentiated as victimizing a stranger or someone outside of their home, the family violent offender is known as harming their kin or people with whom they share a close personal relationship.

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