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Criminal Justice Articles

How Does Criminal Profiling Work?

Criminal profiling is an important part of solving crimes and finding the right suspects.  The right suspects lead to the right people being charged for crimes and helping the criminal activity of that person to stop.  The process involves an intricate analysis of evidence, patterns, and suggestions that are left by a criminal at the time they committed the crime.  The steps that a criminal profiler will usually take to solve a crime are:

  • Go to a crime scene with the sole purpose of evaluating the evidence and clues that may lead towards identifying certain characteristics or traits that help in identifying the type of person a criminal may be.
  • Criminal profilers then evaluate that information and associate it with certain emotions, thoughts, or feelings that the clues may represent on a subconscious level.  This helps identify what the criminal may be thinking.
  • The profilers will have access to information regarding a crime victim or details of a crime scene to see what connections the criminal may have to the situation.  In this step they will be able to determine if the criminal and victim have any specific relationship or if the crime was a random act.
  • Profilers evaluate previous cases or current open cases to look for similarities that may indicate one person is responsible for multiple crimes or if they are most likely working with a new criminal that is not currently on the radar.
  • Criminal profilers create a likely psychological picture of the type of criminal that investigators and other interested parties may be looking for.  That profile helps give direction to an investigation and will lead investigators in the right direction for finding a suspect.  As new evidence comes up and is analyzed criminal profiles can update profiles by making them more specific and determining if they are looking for just one person or multiple people.
  • Criminal profilers often present and talk to investigation staff about the details of a crime and give them valuable information on how to best proceed with an investigation, research, evidence evaluation, and questioning of suspects. 
  • Many profilers are invited to watch interrogations of suspects to help determine the patterns of the person being questioned.  They can evaluate if they are being honest, which emotions they are showing or hiding, and if the person being questioned is truly the criminal they are looking for.
  • Criminal profilers can play an important role in the legal system when it comes to explaining how evidence is linked together and ties into a person that has been charged with criminal activity.  They really help solidify cases and make sure that the people charged with crimes are the ones who did the crime.

If you have ever wondered, “How does criminal profiling work?” you have thought about something that doesn’t have one simple answer.  Criminal profiling involves intricate evaluation of emotions, thought patterns, and human behavior to determine what characteristics an unknown criminal may possess.  Many times criminal profilers learn valuable information on what to look for and commonly occurring traits in criminals by those that are already behind bars.  The ability to dive deep into the human psyche is amazing, intense, and extremely important.  Criminal profilers can help unlock the mysteries that exist behind criminally minded peoples thoughts and give us valuable insight on how to prevent crime and help people rehabilitate from their criminal thought processes.  If you are interested in criminal profiling make sure you find out what type of education and training you need to become a part of this intense field of psychology.

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