One of the year’s most startling and, in some ways perplexing, developments is the drastic rise in homicides.
In any given year, some cities will experience a rise in murders, for reasons that aren’t always clear. 2020 was an outlier in the sense that murders didn’t rise in just a few select urban locales but almost major metropolitan areas around the country.
From St. Louis to Minneapolis, to Los Angeles Homicides were up and, in most instances, up dramatically. Most of these killings involved a gun.
What’s striking is that this rise in violent deaths has coincided with a steep decline in other types of crime (such as theft and property crimes), a peculiarity that struck criminologists around the country.
Many experts cite the changes in human behavior brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdown.
The fact that people were home, instead of at work or school, made burglars leery. Relatedly, many shops and businesses were closed which reduced instances of shoplifting and larceny.
While these behavioral changes made theft and property crimes less likely, they created fertile ground for violent crimes. More people are at home and on the streets, violent crime prevention groups that normally quell violent outbursts are absent, and so many, left jobless by the pandemic, are desperate and on edge.
According to many experts, economic hardship is critical to understanding the proliferation of homicidal outbursts. It’s striking that the trend began accelerating in the spring and early summer when lockdowns were first imposed, and crested in the fall when Covid relief benefits began running out for many.
“We have good data that the rise in the murder was happening in the early stages of the pandemic. We have good data that the rise in murder picked up in the early stages of the summer,” Jeff Asher, a New Orleans-based Data Consultant, told NPR, “and we also have good data that the rise of murder picked up again in September and October as some of the financial assistance started to wear off.”
Although some are optimistic that the homicide rate will return to normal after the pandemic, there are too many variables at play to know for certain, as the poverty and economic challenges ushered in by Covid-19 may outlive the virus itself.
Being charged with a violent crime can change your life
Facing serious criminal accusations, especially those involving violent acts, can throw your life into disarray. Simply the stigma of being charged with such a crime can make getting a job, having relationships, and living a normal life difficult.
Being convicted can change your life forever. You may face prison time and, even if after serving your sentence, getting back to normal may be difficult with a serious criminal offense on your record.
Furthermore, it may seem like law enforcement may not have your best interests in mind. You may feel like you’re being treated as guilty with being allowed to tell your side of the story.
Considering the stakes at hand, it’s critical to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side. They know what the prosecution needs to prove their case and can launch a counter investigation to make sure your story gets told and your rights are protected.
Criminal cases are often long and arduous; each stage of the process is critical, from the arraignment, through discovery, through trial. Having an attorney adept at handling every step can make the difference between complete exoneration and a guilty verdict.