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Ways to talk about crime in English.

There are a lot of specialized words and phrases in English. There is formal terminology that judges, lawyers, and newspaper reporters use. There’s also informal language that people use when talking about crimes in casual conversation. This list will get you started with some common phrases that are “in between”: not slang, but not too technical.

Some examples of crimes:

Violent crime includes the following:

  • armed robbery (like robbing a bank or a liquor store)
  • mugging (robbing someone by threatening them with a gun or knife)
  • murder (killing someone)
  • kidnapping (taking someone and keeping them illegally)
  • assault (beating someone up)
  • sexual assault / rape (having sex with someone who doesn’t want it)

White-collar crimes are different kinds of theft and fraud that don’t physically threaten anyone.

  • identity theft (taking someone’s personal information so that you can use their credit cards or bank accounts)
  • tax evasion (not paying your taxes on purpose)
  • bribery (giving money to a politician, police officer, etc. to get favors from them)

Misdemeanors are less serious crimes which usually don’t cause serious harm to other people.

  • shoplifting (stealing something out of a store)
  • drug posession (having illegal drugs)
  • vandalism (doing graffiti or breaking things)
  • prostitution (having sex for money)
  • tresspassing (going onto someone’s property without permission)
  • drunk driving

Ways to describe people

  • a criminal
  • a suspect
  • an accused murderer

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