Criminal Profile

Criminal profiling, as the FBI pioneered it may be defined as a process used to analyze a specific crime or series or crimes in order to develop a behavioral composite of an unknown offender.

Profiles may be classified as either prospective or retrospective.

Prospective profiling attempts to construct a set of characteristics common to a specific type of offender. These types of profiles are generally templates laid over a specific population in an attempt to predict who within that group might have an elevated potential for committing a certain type of violence.

A common problem with prospective profiles is that they become overly inclusive and dependent on stereotyping, which can result in suspicious of the wrong people while allowing actual offenders to remain free.

Retrospective profiling is an after the fact case specific attempt to define the personality and behavioral characteristics of the individuals responsible for a specific crime or series of crimes.

The process focuses on the identification and apprehension of the offender.

Profiling is part of a more comprehensive behavioral assessment program called Criminal Investigative Analysis (CIA). That is a multifaceted approach to crime covering activities as diverse as risk analysis, false allegations, staged crimes, stalking, domestic homicide, criminal enterprise, homicide, gang violence, kidnappings, child abductions, child molestation, white-collar crime, organized crime, terrorism, bombings, arson.

In order to understand how profiling and CIA differ we can look at the four stages of a criminal investigation: 1) First we determine whether or not a crime has been committed,
2) If so, we try to accurately identify the crime
3) Then we try to identify and apprehended the offender,
finally, we present evidence in court.

CIA can be used during any of these stages, while criminal profiling is limited primarily to the third stage and may also be utilized during the fourth stage with in the framework of an investigation.

Criminal Investigative Analysis offers the following services:

Crime and crime scene analysis
Investigative strategy
Interviewing techniques
Probably cause in support of a search warrant
Trial strategy before and during a trial
Expert witness testimony
Threat assessment

Very often violent criminals become completely addicted to the violence they wreak on their victims. The violence may well cease to be the means to an end, in terms of committing a robbery or a rape and becomes so enjoyable to the criminal that it becomes the main objective.

This means that the scenes of successive crimes committed by the same criminal show marked similarities in terms of the choice of victim and the method of operating (MO) but steadily increasing progression in terms of t he level of violence involved.

Profiling also depends on two different techniques inductive and deductive profiling.

Inductive profiling makes the basic assumption that where crimes which are c committed by different people show basic similarities in MO or method and signature then the criminals responsible must show personality traits in common. This is a relatively simple technique, since it links personality with crime scene evidence in a straightforward way and makes use of information from past crimes and their known offenders. This knowledge is used to make an assessment based on the likes shown by similar crime scenes in the past.

Deductive profiling is a more complex procedure, since it involves using crime scene evidence to open a window into the mind of the criminal involved. It also draws upon other essential evidence like full details of the victim's involved to produce a finished profile than inductive profiling. In most cases, the finished profile uses a combination of these techniques: inductive profiling and point to the basic type of criminal personality involved and deductive profiling to reveal the traits of the individual criminal against the more general conclusions of the type to which he belongs.

In many cases, the first step in producing a profile is to carry out a careful study of the crime scene, either directly at the crime scene as soon as possible after the crime has been discovered or indirectly once the crime scene has been cleared and all the evidence and records gathered at the time of the original investigation are available for the profiler to examine. another important factor which may emerge from studying the crime scene is the likelihood of whether or not the victim and the offender knew one another. From the information known about the victim including age, lifestyle, work, physical finesses and strength, and in some cases race, and religion, profilers can determine whether he or she was a high, medium or low risk victim

In parallel with the level or risk represented by the victim profilers also try to estimate the risk to which the killer was subjected i committing the crime.

The geography or the area in the vicinity of the crime scene can also help to tell profilers more about the attackers background.

One of the most important factors in assessing the risk to the criminal is the amount of time spent at the scene of the crime, which also helps to identify the type of person involved.

Time is important in another sense too. Both time and the day of the week the attack took place, together with the remoteness or otherwise of the location can suggest something about the daily routine of the criminal.

The way the crimes develop can assist the profiler to determine what state of mind the killer is in even predict if, when or where he or she will strike next.


Profiling is ultimately an art dependent on the experiences and expertise of the profiler.

The Deductive Method of Criminal Profiling:

A deductive criminal profile is a set of offender characteristics that are reasoned from the convergence of the physical and behavioral evidence patterns within a crime or a series of related crimes.

Pertinent physical evidence suggestive of behavioral, Victimology and crime scene characteristics are included in the profile to support any arguments regarding offender characteristics. The information used to argue a deductive criminal profile includes the following:

Forensic analysis must be preformed on all available physical evidence before this type of profile can begin. It should also include the use of victim statements, witness?s statements and any crime scene documentation such as photographs sketches and reports.

Victimology the characteristics of an individual offenders victim can lend themselves to inferences about offender motive, MO and the determination of offender signature behaviors.

In the deductive method of criminal profiling each individual victim has rendering characteristics about the offender responsible for the crime.


Potential crime scene characteristics include among many others, method of approach, method of attack, method of control, location type. Nature and sequence of sexual acts, materials used, verbal activity and precautionary acts.

In cases involving a related series of offenses, such as in serial rape or serial homicide, crime scene characteristics are determined individually and analyzed as they evolve or fail to evolve over time. Offender?s crime scene characteristics help the profiler discriminate between MO behaviors and signature behaviors. As well as lending themselves to inferences about offender state of mind, planning, fantasy and motivation.

Criminal profiling is used to describe any process of inferring distinctive personality characteristics of individuals responsible for committing criminal acts.

We define a deductive criminal profile as a set of offender characteristics that are reasoned from the convergence of crimes. That is to say the deductive method describes and bases its inferences on the behavioral evidence in a particular case or a series of related cases. We further explain that the process of rendering a deductive criminal profile is called behavioral evidence analysis.

Hard Vs. Soft Characteristics:

Offender characteristics are divided into two categories, hard and soft characteristics.

Hard characteristics refer to those offender attributes that are a matter of verifiable uninterrupted fact. They are evident by virtue of demonstrable unequivocal existence in the form of some kind of permanent unalterable documentation.

Examples Include:

Offender age--In profiling, the general rule of thumb is; the older the victim the younger the offender. Unless victim choice and other elements of MO reveal a higher level of criminal sophistication when trying to determine the age of an unidentified subject usually starts at 25 and add or subtract years based on degree of sophistication with a victim in her 70's or 80's we lower the initial age into the teen years. Particularly if there is a sexual component.

Offender Sex

Offender blood type

Offender secretor status

Offender finger prints

Offender race

Offender marital status

Offender residence history

Offender formal education history

Offender employment history

Offender incarceration history

Offender medical history

Offender mental health history

Offender military history

Offender vehicle ownership history

Offender property ownership history

Soft Characteristics:

Soft characteristics refer to those offender attributes that are matter of opinion. They require some kind of interpretation in order to define them they also include things that are subject to natural or intentional change with the passage of time without any kind of permanent verifiable record. Examples include:

Offender relationship history

Offender physical characteristics

Offender grooming habits

Offender skill lever

Offender vehicle type of color

Offender personality habits

Offender hobbies

Offender self-esteem

Offender empathy

Offender deceitfulness

Offender criminal versatility

Offender acceptance of responsibility for actions

Offender glibness/superficial charm

Offender impulsivity

Offender remorse of guilt

Offender behavioral controls

Offender aggressiveness

Offender motive/fantasy aspect


Deducing of offender characteristics is about asking the right questions of the offender?s behavior. The first part of the question is defining the characteristic. The second part is agreeing upon what type of behavior evidences that characteristic. If the crime reconstruction includes those behaviors, then the criminal profiler has a good argument for that characteristic.


A deductive criminal profile should be a written document. It should be rendered as a court worthy document.

Equivocal forensic analysis


Crime scene characteristics

Offender characteristics

Investigative strategy--recommendations only


FBI Method of Profiling

Between 1979 through 1983, agents from the FBI's BSU interviewed incarcerated offenders about their backgrounds, crimes, crime scenes, and their victims. They supplemented the interviews with reviews of court transcripts police reports, and psychiatric and criminal records. Using this data, they developed a six step crime scene analysis procedure for building a profile.:

1) Inputs--The first stop is collecting and assessing materials relating to the case under investigation, including crime scene and victim photographs, a thorough background check of the victim, autopsy reports and forensic data.

2) Models--The modeling phase requires arranging the data gathered in the input stage into a logical, coherent pattern for analysis.

3) Assessment--Using the sorted and arranged data, the profiler attempts to reconstruct the sequence of events and the behaviors of the perpetrator as well as the victim. The object is to determine that role each played in the crime.

4) Profile-- Based on the reconstruction of the crime, a list of background, physical, and behavioral characteristics is prepared. This is the profile of the perpetrator. The profiler tries to advise police on how to identify, apprehend and then interview the suspect.

5) Investigation-- In this stage, the profile is fully integrated into the investigation of the crime.

6) Apprehension-- Any suspects who are apprehended are cross-checked against the profile to access how closely they suspect's characteristics correspond with it.

Source Information--The Complete Idiot's Guide to Criminal Investigation. Alan Axelrod & Guy Antinozzi. 2003 Alpha Books

The Unknown Darkness Profiling the Predators Among Us By Gregg O. McCray with Katherine Ramsland PH.D Harper Collins Oct. 2004.

Criminal Minds The Science and Psychology of Profiling David Owen 2004 Quinter Publishing