When you see news stories about crime, they often involve extremely serious, scandalous, or rare crimes. But the nightly news is not always representative of the actual crime that occurs day-to-day. While most of this crime goes by silently, the news tends to focus on the most “newsworthy” stories, and misses the much more common crimes, like shoplifting or drunk driving. The following information may help you put crimes into perspective in CA. If you were charged with a crime – whether it was a common one or a more rare and serious offense – talk to an attorney. A Ventura criminal defense lawyer at Bamieh and De Smeth offer free consultations for new cases.

California’s Most Common Crimes

Across the country, crimes like murder are actually quite rare. Overall, the rate of violent crime is significantly lower than the rate of property crime. Many people see property crimes as having a less direct victim, since the person’s bank account or property is injured, not the person. In California, there are 4.26 violent crimes per 1,000 residents in the past year. Compared with the 26.18 property crimes per 1,000 residents, we see nearly over 6 times the crime rate for property offenses.
The FBI and criminologists use certain statistics to gauge overall crime rates throughout the country. While these crimes do not necessarily reflect what the most common crimes are, they are the most commonly tracked and reported crimes throughout the country. In California, murder, rape, robbery, and assault are tracked as violent crimes, and burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft are tracked as property crimes. They carry the following crime rates in the last year, per 1,000 residents:

  • Murder – 0.05
  • Rape – 0.33
  • Robbery – 1.35
  • Assault – 2.54
  • Burglary – 5.04
  • Theft – 16.77
  • Motor Vehicle Theft – 4.37

This, again, confirms that property crime is much more common in California. One detail to note is that burglary is the second highest offense. Many people misunderstand or confuse theft crimes like robbery and burglary. Burglary is a property crime, since it involves committing a crime (usually theft) while trespassing. Robbery is, instead, a violent crime, since it involves taking something directly from someone else, by force.

Common Crimes in Southern California

Even though these crimes provide a good description of the crime rate in Southern California, they do not necessarily show what crimes are the most common. The following are all descriptions of some of the most common, everyday charges people face in SoCal:


In California, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You can be arrested and charged with driving under the influence if there is enough of any drug or alcohol in your system to affect your driving. This means you can be charged with DUI if your BAC was over the legal limit of .08%, but also if you had a lower BAC or no blood/breath test.

Drug Possession

One of the most common crimes that comes through courtrooms is drug crimes. Many possession charges are for small amounts of marijuana – which will soon be changing in California. However, “hard drugs” like cocaine and heroin, as well as prescription drugs, are also illegal (without a valid prescription in your name).


Many theft crimes go unreported or unnoticed, especially cases of minor shoplifting. These crimes, however, make up a large portion of common, day-to-day crimes. Though the penalties are not very high for low-level thefts, they still come with a potential of fines or even jail time.


Assault has two main levels: simple and aggravated assault. Simple assault covers unarmed strikes, punches, kicks, shoves, and other physical altercations or fights. Aggravated assault is for more serious attacks that cause lasting injuries, serious strangulation, or involve the use of a weapon.


Being where you’re not supposed to is sometimes serious enough to be a crime. This is actually closely related to burglary – which involves trespassing with the intent to commit a felony. Especially for juveniles and other young people, and in cases of domestic violence, trespassing charges are quite common.

Criminal Defense Lawyer in Southern California

In many cases, the most common crimes are not the most serious offenses. This does not mean you do not deserve legal representation. If you were wrongly accused, or the police violated your rights, you deserve to have an attorney challenge the case against you. Do not hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney, even for more minor offenses.
The Southern California criminal defense attorneys at Bamieh and De Smeth represent people accused with a wide range of crimes. From serious murder cases to minor theft cases, our attorneys handle them all. For a free consultation on your DUI, drug possession, or other common criminal charges, contact our attorneys today. Our number is (805) 643-5555.