leifertlaw October 23, 2014 Criminal Defense
According to data recently compiled by information services provided Esri, and as reported by the South Florida Business Journal, you’re more likely to live in a high crime area in Miami-Dade County than in any other county in South Florida.
As our Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade criminal defense lawyers know, the research company ranked crime rates in 75 zip codes around Miami-Dade County; across the county, the so-called total crime index ranged from 29 all the way up to 513.
This information is certainly important when it comes to deciding where to buy a home, find a job, etc., but could the crime statistics play an unfair role in a criminal case? Might a jury be swayed more easily into regarding someone as a criminal if they happen to reside in a “higher crime” area?
First of all, what exactly do the crime statistics show us? Well, considering that the average crime index is 100, for any locality with a crime rate above 100, there is an increased risk of crime in that area. So, if a locality has a crime index of, say, 300, that means that it’s 3 times more likely that a crime will occur. Likewise, in the part of Miami with a crime index of 513, the area with the zip code 33168, the likelihood of a crime being committed is more than 5 times as much as the average. In that area, the top three crimes, according to the report, were personal crime, assault, and motor vehicle theft.
In compiling the data, as our Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade criminal defense lawyers understand, the researchers used information from official records involving such crimes as personal crime, murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft.
In Broward County, the highest crime index was 387, and that was for the area with the zip code 33315, wherein the top three crimes were reported as having been property crime, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. In Palm Beach County, the highest crime index was a whopping 549, in the area with the zip code 33405, wherein the top three crimes were robbery, property crime, and larceny. (While Palm Beach County’s highest crime index was higher than Miami-Dade County’s highest crime rate, the overall numbers suggest that Miami-Dade is far more dangerous as a whole, and that the abnormally high crime index in Palm Beach County was somewhat of an outlier.)
Given this information, how do you think this might play a role in a criminal case? Let’s say a crime of assault was allegedly committed in Palm Beach or Broward County, and the defendant in the criminal trial happened to be from the part of Miami-Dade County in which the crime index is 513, the area with the zip code 33168. If prosecutors decided to use the research cited above in an effort to sway jurors into thinking that the defendant was a criminal, and acted criminally in the incident upon which the case was based, might that be unfair? A jury might, in an unfair way, make up their minds about this defendant who would be, in this scenario, coming from a high crime area in which one of the top three crimes committed was the very crime he was accused of having committed.
As our criminal defense lawyers know, crime statistics don’t paint a full picture of an individual and they certainly can’t account for all of the particular circumstances of a given incident, and that is why using them to shed light on a specific incident can be quite dangerous in and of itself.
If you have any questions about this or any other criminal defense issue, or if you’ve been arrested for or charged with a crime in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, please contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys to schedule a free consultation. You can reach us by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363). We look forward to speaking with you.
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