The Broad classification provides an overview of all the crime within each database, with approximately 30 broad, overarching categories ranging from sexual assault to controlled substances to theft. The Detailed classification contains approximately 150 categories, which provides a more granular look at crime within the database. We suggest starting using the Broad classification for a big-picture understanding and then moving to the Detailed classification to deepen your analysis of specific types of crime.
Note that the Hispanic population is estimated by last name, as that distinction is not made in the original data. This surname identification process has minimal false positives and mirrors the methodology used by the U.S. Census Bureau. This methodology is most effective in estimating the number of Mexican Americans or Puerto Ricans, but it is known to undercount people of Cuban or "Other Hispanic" descent. This undercounting is most noticeable in regions with sizable populations of Cuban or South American descent, such as Miami-Dade County. The U.S. Census Bureau provides further analysis of this approach.
Harris County, TX: 1997-2011 (3.1 Million Records)
Broad (30+ Categories)
Detailed (150+ Categories)
Details of these records
How to use this chart
Glossary of variables
About this crime categorization
Harris County, TX is the 3rd most populous county in the United States.
We have summarized 3.1 million criminal records in the charts above. These records include felonies, class A misdemeanors, and class B misdemeanors. (Note that Class C misdemeanors, such as speeding and other minor traffic offenses, are not included.) The complete records span from 1977 - 2011. We have included the total number of cases, fines, jail time, probation, race, and sex, and percentages of each final disposition: acquitted / dismissed / deferred adjudication / guilty.
You can view the data using several different charts. Details about each view can be found below.
To zoom in:
Put your mouse in the chart areas.
Hold down the left mouse button and draw a rectangle over the items that you want to zoom in on.
Release the left mouse button.
In the menu that pops up, select 'Zoom in' (you may have to hit 'Enter' on your keyboard).
To zoom out:
Click the 'Zoom out' link above the zoom thumbnail in the right panel.
Set the axes to different variables to examine different aspects of the records:
Crime Type Freq (%): The frequency of the selected category of crime each year as a percentage of all crimes.
Crime Type Freq (n): The frequency, or number, of the selected category of crimes or accusations occurring within each year as an aggregate total.
Median Age (y): The median, or middle, age (in years) of the defendants.
Median Fine ($): The median, or middle, dollar amount of the court-ordered fine.
Median Jail Time (y): The median, or middle, years of jail time sentenced.
Median Probation (y): The median, or middle, years of probation sentenced.
Disposition: Acquitted (%): The percentage of defendants who were acquitted, which means a court has reached a verdict of not guilty of the crime.
Disposition: Def Adj (%): The percentage of defendants who were given a period of deferred adjudication, which means one can avoid a formal conviction by meeting certain requirements over a court-ordered period of time. Usually, this means some combination of the requirements of treatment, community service, or not committing another crime over a court-mandated period of time.
Disposition: Dismissed (%): The percentage of defendants whose accusation was dismissed prior to reaching a verdict. The legal effect of a dismissal varies depending on whether it was with prejudice or without prejudice. In a dismissal with prejudice, the prosecutor cannot charge the accused with the same crime at a later date. When it is without prejudice, the prosecutor can bring the charges at a later date. For constitutional reasons, dismissal without prejudice is only granted when it does not adversely affect the right of the defendant, which makes it relatively rare.
Disposition: Guilty (%): The percentage of defendants who either pled guilty or received a verdict of guilty after the court hearings.
Fined (%): The percentage of defendants who received a sentence including a court-ordered fine.
Jail Time (%): The percentage of defendants who received a sentence which included jail time.
Probation (%): The percentage of defendants who received a sentence including probation. Defendants who received probation were found guilty but released from detention early, subject to a court-ordered period of good behavior under careful, frequent supervision.
Race: Black (%): The percentage of African-American defendants.
Race: Hisp (%): The percentage of Hispanic defendants, as identified by CPI after using the Census’ methodology of surname identification. (Hispanics are not otherwise identified within Harris County records).
Race: White (%): The percentage of Caucasian defendants.
Sex: Female (%): The percentage of female defendants.
Sex: Male (%): The percentage of male defendants.
This categorization scheme was created by two Harvard-trained lawyers (Pablo Ormachea and Sarah Isgur), who worked closely with the team’s programmers to work through thousands of different crime labels across multiple counties in multiple states. Ultimately, the collaboration resulted in 30+ useful, meaningful categories that address changing definitions over time. For instance, in Harris County, there is no longer a crime called “rape”; today, those crimes would be called “sexual assault.” Here are details of each crime category, illustrated with representative crimes.
Driving a vehicle on land, sea, or air with an open container or while intoxicated beyond the legal limit. Importantly, the legal limit has been gradually reduced from 1977 until today’s legal limit of 0.08 blood alcohol content. The vast majority of accusations in this category are for driving while intoxicated on the first offense, second offense, and third offense.
Alcohol violations that do not involve driving a vehicle. This includes the crimes of public intoxication, violation of age-restrictions, and other crimes violating the Texas Alcohol Beverage Code.
Crimes involving animal violence. This includes the crimes of cruelty to animals, dog fighting, and dog attacks.
Crimes of arson or attempted arson of a building, vehicle, or habitation.
Nonsexual crimes of violence both with and without a weapon. The most common crimes are assault of a family member, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. One important caveat: If the crime label means the victim is indisputably a child, then the crime has been categorized as “Crimes Against Children” instead of “Assault-Nonsexual.”
Burglary or attempted burglary of a habitation, building, or vehicle. The most common crimes are Burglary of a Habitation with Theft, Burglary with Intent to Commit Theft, and Burglary of a Building. If the crime label makes it clear that the burglary had the intent to commit a sexual felony rather than theft, then the crime has been placed within the category of “Sexual Assault” and not “Burglary.”
Child Sex Crimes:
Sexually related crimes against children. To be in this category, the sexual crime had to be indisputably against a person aged 17 or younger. Crimes include Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child Under 14, Sexual Assault of a Child of 14 to 17 years of Age, Sexual Assault of a Child, and Indecency of Touching a Child’s Genitals, and Possession of Child Pornography.
Nonsexual crimes like breaching computer security, installing tracking devices, or intercepting electronic communication.
Possession, manufacture, or delivery of marijuana. This category is overwhelmingly dominated by possession of 0-2 ounces of marijuana. The second most frequent crime is possession of 4 ounces to 5 pounds of marijuana.
Possession, manufacture, or delivery of other controlled substances. Two of the three most common crimes are for possession of under 1 gram or for possession of 1-4 grams of a controlled substance from Texas penalty group 1, which includes opiates and other substances known as acid, crack, cocaine, ecstasy, or heroin. More information about Texas penalty groups can be found here. Texas did not always categorize controlled substances into penalty groups, which explains why the second most common crime is delivery of under 28 grams of crack.
Crimes Against Children:
Crimes against children. The most common crimes are for endangering a child, intentionally causing a bodily injury to a child under 15, and recklessly causing a bodily injury to a child.
Crimes by Public Servants:
Crimes committed by public servants such as police officers or government clerks. The majority of instances are for investigating a police officer’s discharge of his or her firearm. The second most common crime type is for attempting to tamper with government records.
Evading, resisting, or escaping official custody. The most common crimes are for evading arrest with a motor vehicle, evading detention, and resisting a search during an arrest.
Fraud, Forgery, or Impersonation:
Credit card fraud, fraudulently creating, altering, or using a document, or fraudulently impersonating another person. The most common crimes are for credit card fraud, forgery of a document, credit or debit card abuse, and forging a government instrument.
Gambling, promotion of gambling, possession of gambling devices, or illegally keeping a place of gambling.
Unlawful possession or carry of a firearm, reckless conduct of a firearm, and other crimes related to illegal ownership or use of a firearm. The most common crimes are for a convicted felon illegally possessing a weapon, carrying a weapon in an unlawful place, or possession of a prohibited firearm.
Crimes related to harassing or stalking another individual. The most common crimes are violation of a protective order, threatening to injure a person, or harassing communication.
Kidnapping or otherwise preventing someone from leaving an enclosed area. The most common crimes are false imprisonment, aggravated kidnapping, or kidnapping.
Failure to comply with licensing requirements or taxes related to licensing. The most common crimes are failure to pay state taxes for controlled substances, serving a non-licensed beverage, or violating the terms of a liquor license.
Low Level Crime:
Not all crimes fit easily within another category. This contains highly infrequent, nonviolent, and nonsexual crimes like violating ordinances, election laws, possessing criminal instruments, or soliciting ground transportation.
Direct loss of human life. The most common crimes are for involuntary manslaughter, murder, capital murder, and intoxicated manslaughter with a vehicle.
Obstructing the proper functioning and procedures of the criminal process. The most common crimes are for reporting a false alarm, tampering or fabricating evidence, retaliation, tampering with government records, or otherwise interfering with the duties of a public servant.
Organized criminal activity like money laundering or increasing gang membership. The most common crimes are for Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity, Endless Chain Scheme, and money laundering between $200,000 and $100,000.
Parole-related violations like failing to provide accurate information to a parole officer, failure to comply with sex offender registration requirements, or jumping bail.
Crimes involving pollution. This includes crimes like unlawful transportation of chemicals, illegal disposal of litter, water pollution, dumping, and illegal dumping.
Sexual crimes that make direct use of force. As stated above, Texas no longer uses the term “rape,” as that crime is now considered a form of “sexual assault.” The most common crimes are for aggravated sexual assault, aggravated rape, burglary of a habitation with a rape, and sexual assault.
Sexual crimes that do not make direct use of force. This includes the crimes of prostitution, promoting obscene material, indecent exposure, sale of obscene material, or prohibited sexual conduct (like incest, bigamy, or once-outlawed homosexual conduct).
Instances of theft. These crimes include theft of a vehicle or other valuables, theft by receiving, and theft of trade secrets.
Traffic violations like driving while license is suspended, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, reckless driving, and expired inspections.
Property rights violations. The vast majority of these crimes are for criminal mischief (such as graffiti) or trespassing on another’s property. This differs critically from burglary in that the defendant is not accused of attempting to steal any physical or electronic item of value.