10 Common Traits of Career Criminals


Above Photo courtesy of bailbondcity.com.

From hectic police precincts to overwhelmed court dockets to overpopulated prisons, the evidence is everywhere – the American criminal justice system is inundated with habitual offenders.

Otherwise known as career criminals, these outliers use crime as the primary method for financing their morally bankrupt lives. Although career criminals run the full spectrum of age, gender and ethnicity, there are certain psychological traits that bond them. Here are some common characteristics:


People who live a life of crime tend to rationalize their own behavior by diverting blame and questioning the motives of others. “If that lady didn’t want her purse stolen, she should have been smart and locked her car.” As part of the rationalization process, the career criminal generally does not evaluate the consequences of his own behavior.


Self-centered, and oblivious to the needs of others, a career criminal lives by the simple motto of “me, me, me.” Essentially, these people have the right to commit any acts they desire, because life is all about them – all the time.

Asocial Value System

Many habitual offenders suffer from antisocial personality disorder and what’s called – “criminal thinking.” The career criminal will very rarely show any remorse for their actions, or empathy towards others. The career criminal’s complete failure to adhere to acceptable social standards coupled with a lack of self-control leads to a life filled with confrontations, and arrest after arrest.


Despite their prevailing antisocial behavior, many career criminals see themselves in a positive light because they have sentimentality towards certain things, like children or animals. This sentimental attitude just further fuels the fire of rationalization for the offender’s continuous cycle of criminal behavior.


This trait is pretty obvious. An inability to control one’s behavior, by acting on every impulse, is a dominating characteristic of a career criminal. Not only do these outliers fail to have control over their impulses, but they often lack control over their temperament, which often leads to disastrous results – especially when these criminals lose their cool.


Above Photo courtesy of www.powerlineblog.com.

Family Dysfunction

A very common trait of career criminals is the lack of family support, both on emotional and financial levels. When someone’s family is unable to effectively problem solve or provide any sort of emotional and psychological stability, it can lead to significant problems for a person that already is predisposed to asocial behavior.

Oftentimes, substance abuse issues are found in this dysfunctional environment, which further erodes the stability in which a family should provide.

Easily Distracted

Career criminals have serious distraction issues, and often lose focus of their legitimate goals. The inability to remain focused and on-target with their socially acceptable objectives, often leads criminals to fall back into their old patterns (even after the person has been released from prison, and believes they have been rehabilitated).

Power Centric

Interestingly, habitual offenders tend to look at people and situations as a power struggle. Essentially, each encounter becomes a battle between strong and weak. Once the criminal has decided they hold the strength, they will exploit the weaker opponent.


Career criminals often have an inflated sense of optimism, which translates into “I’ll never get caught.” This fantasy belief of invincibleness leads criminals down a dangerous path of ill-fated patterns. They often believe that because a certain strategy worked in the past, that it will continue to prove fruitful. But, it usually doesn’t, and they wind up in jail. Again, and again.

Cognitive Laziness         

Choosing the path of least resistance is a trademark of a career criminal. Their lack of ambition (in the traditional sense) coupled with being easily bored leads criminals to make poor, not well thought-out, decisions. In their youth, career criminals had a strong desire to live outside the rules, and test the boundaries of acceptable behavior. As they age, criminals tend to live within, and fully accept, the antisocial boundaries that they established in their younger years.

History suggests that our society will always be comprised of a certain number of career criminals. Is there a way to reverse that disturbing trend?


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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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3 Responses to 10 Common Traits of Career Criminals

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