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Understanding U.S. crime: 5 key facts

If you're wondering about the state of crime in America, it is very important to look at the facts and figures. They tell a very different story than what you may see on the news or on social media. Here are five key facts to start with:

1. Geography matters. Looking at total statistics for the country can be deceiving about what's happening on a more localized level. For example, Alaska had 600 violent crimes for every 100,000 people living in the state in 2016, while Maine had fewer than 200.

2. Rates matter. Looking at totals can also be deceptive because areas with more people see more crime. For instance, many people think the murder rate in Chicago is out of control because it gets a lot of press. However, the rate in St. Louis is twice as high.

3. Violent crime rates have fallen overall. Despite the way people talk about the "good old days" as being safer, the reality is that violent crime hit a high in the 1990s and has been falling since then.

4. Police never solve most crimes. In 2016, they only solved about 18 percent of property crimes and 46 percent of violent crimes. Most cases just lead to dead ends.

5. Public perception is often wrong. As noted above, crime rates have been falling dramatically. However, in most surveys given to Americans to ask their opinions, they say that crime rates have increased.

Have you been accused of a crime? If so, it is important for you to understand exactly how the court process works and what legal rights you have.

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