Perpetrator

For other uses, see Suspect (disambiguation).

In the law enforcement jargon, a suspect is a known person suspected of committing a crime. Police and reporters in the United States often incorrectly use the word suspect when referring to the perpetrator of the offense (perp in dated US slang). The perpetrator is the robber, assailant, counterfeiter, etc.—the person who actually committed the crime. The distinction between suspect and perpetrator recognizes that the suspect is not known to have committed the offense, while the perpetrator—who may not yet have been suspected of the crime, and is thus not necessarily a suspect—is the one who actually did. The suspect may be a different person from the perpetrator, or there may have been no actual crime, which would mean there is no perpetrator.[1]

A common error in police reports is a witness description of the suspect (as a witness generally describes a perpetrator, while a mug shot is of suspect). Frequently it is stated that police are looking for the suspect, when there is no suspect; the police could be looking for a suspect, but they are surely looking for the perpetrator, and very often it is impossible to tell from such a police report whether there is a suspect or not.

Possibly because of the misuse of suspect to mean perpetrator, police in the early 21st century began to use person of interest, possible suspect, and even possible person of interest, to mean suspect.

Under the judicial systems of the U.S., once a decision is approved to arrest a suspect, or bind him over for trial, either by a prosecutor issuing an information, a grand jury issuing a true bill or indictment, or a judge issuing an arrest warrant, the suspect can then be properly called a defendant, or the accused. Only after being convicted is the suspect properly called the perpetrator.

See also

References

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.