Criminal Careers and Offending Trajectories

Not to be confused with the study of career criminals (e.g., individuals committing crimes as their primary source of income), the criminal career paradigm focuses on the longitudinal sequencing of an individual’s offending pattern. This sequence is defined by different parameters detailing the beginning (e.g., age of onset), middle (e.g., changes in frequency, severity, and crime type), and end (e.g., termination) of an offender’s criminal career. In the criminal career context, the term trajectory describes the frequency of offending between the start and end of an individual’s criminal career, essentially capturing several of the aforementioned criminal career parameters simultaneously. In effect, trajectories help describe the evolution of crime across the life course. Given that the majority of all crime is committed by a small percentage ...

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