The past year has been difficult for just about everyone, with the coronavirus pandemic contributing to many kinds of hardship. For the most part, however, crime was down across the board, with many people choosing to stay inside during the quarantine rather than go out and engage in criminal activity. Unfortunately, homicides were among the few exceptions to this rule, with the rate of homicide skyrocketing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why Was Crime Down in 2020?
This past year, the overall crime rate dropped compared to previous years. The primary contributing factor to the drop in crime was believed to be the coronavirus pandemic, and more specifically the quarantine measures that were imposed to limit exposure to the virus. While a rash of burglaries did occur in May, it was over by the time summer began in earnest. It appears that most people, including those who would normally be engaging in crimes like burglaries and larcenies, were more concerned about maintaining social distancing than what they might gain from criminal activity.
Another possibility, though, is that crime is actually not down, but rather the agencies that would normally keep track of such crimes were operating on a more limited basis. As a result, fewer crimes were reported or recorded, leading to a decrease in crime on paper. Unfortunately, however, this explanation does not explain why certain types of crime did not follow this apparent trend.
Why Were Homicides Up in 2020?
According to a preliminary report by the FBI, the rate of homicide saw a 14% spike during the COVID-19 pandemic, a rise in violent crime that has not been seen in decades. The murder rate spiked during the summer, at the height of the quarantine, while gradually returning to normal once autumn hit and quarantine rules started to relax. Certain other types of violent crime, such as domestic assault and gun violence, also increased during the same period.
The most obvious answer for the increase in homicides also explains why other types of crimes decreased during the same period: people were trapped inside due to the coronavirus. With nowhere else to go, and with many people also experiencing economic troubles during the same period, tempers were more likely to flare, with people taking out their frustrations on each other.
What Does This Mean?
At this point, it is hard to say whether the crime rate will remain the same once COVID-19 has been adequately contained. However, so long as people feel compelled to remain indoors without an outlet for their stress or frustration, it is likely that an increase in violence will continue to be an issue for the foreseeable future. The courts are now open and hearing criminal cases, though, so anyone accused of a crime should not expect delays on their case due to COVID-19.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a criminal offense, you will need legal counsel to help you preserve your rights and work to get the best possible outcome for your matter. A New York criminal defense lawyer, who is experienced in handling criminal cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you or your loved one has been arrested, contact the Suffolk County criminal defense attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.