What noun can be used for persons who are likely to commit a crime? The scenario is that the person might have never committed a crime in their life but if you analyze the current state of things in their life, you'd conclude that they are most probably going to commit a crime in the foreseeable future.


Just like sci-fi movies, based on predictive modeling and data analysis, we can identify _______. (word for those who are likely to commit a crime)

Words considered but that don't fit:

suspect - A person thought to be guilty of a crime or offense

perpetrator - A person who carries out a harmful, illegal, or immoral act.


I guess both words signify that the crime has already occurred. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  • 3
    "Victim of profiling", perhaps?
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 6, 2016 at 12:41
  • 1
    @AndrewLeach Surely a 'person of interest' is someone who is suspected of being involved in or having information about the commission of a crime rather than one who might at any moment reach a tipping point and move into criminality? fbi.gov/wanted/seeking-info/person-of-interest
    – Spagirl
    Sep 6, 2016 at 13:11
  • 1
    Check out precrime. "In Philip K. Dick's 1956 science fiction short story "The Minority Report", "Precrime" is the name of a criminal justice agency, the task of which is to identify and eliminate persons who will commit crimes in the future. "
    – NVZ
    Sep 6, 2016 at 14:20
  • 1
    @BiscuitBoy On reading and rereading the OP, I am somewhat uncomfortable with the statement, "...but if you see their current state (like employment, financial and mental) you'd conclude that they are...going to commit a crime..." You have ascribed an unwarranted stigma to the examples given: less fortunate people who are having the aforementioned problems are not prone to criminal activity any more or less than someone who is employed, solvent and/or free of any mental illness. May I request that you consider editing the OP to better reflect a more sensitive understanding. Sep 6, 2016 at 14:43
  • 1
    @PeterPoint - Good point! ;) Edited and saved.
    – BiscuitBoy
    Sep 6, 2016 at 14:46

5 Answers 5


How about precriminal?

The OP's example:

Just like sci-fi movies, based on predictive modeling and data analysis, we can identify precriminals (word for those who are likely to commit a crime).

Precriminal is a natural extension of precrime, which Dictionary.com defines as follows:

precrime: of or relating to law-enforcement efforts and strategies to deter crime by predicting when and where criminal activity will occur.

So precriminal pertains to law-enforcement efforts and strategies to deter crime by predicting who is likely to engage in criminal activity for the first time, i.e., who is "primed" to commit criminal offenses.

Postscript: For interesting background reading on precrime, google precrime.

  • 1
    And like in the movies it is a bad term because it effectively judges people before they have acted. Much of the Law enforcement and Social Services community use the term 'person at risk of offending', recognising that tipping into criminal behaviour is likely to have negative consequences for the individual as well as for society.
    – Spagirl
    Sep 6, 2016 at 15:11
  • 2
    @Spagirl The term is fine, the idea is awful. Like Hot Licks said, victims of profiling. Sep 6, 2016 at 15:40

Person at risk (in this context: to commit a crime) or simply potential criminal. The term person at risk is suitable for a metric: a risk of 75% in the next 18 months, etc.


In his article Juvenile Diversion and the Get-Tough Movement in Japan, presented at conferences in Muenster, Germany and then in Nashville, Tennessee in 2004, before being published in Ritsumeikan University’s Law Review in 2005, Dr. KUZUNO Hiroyuki, currently Dean and Professor of Law at Hitotsubashi University, cited Japan’s Juvenile Law of 1948 (“modeled after the Standard Juvenile Court Act of 1943 in the United States”), which in Article 3 (on page 3 of the linked Law Review article) includes the following mention and definition of pre-offender:

(3) pre-offender; a juvenile under 20 who is likely to commit an offense or act in violation of penal provisions, in view of his or her character or circumstances, because of specific factors.

Although the “circumstances” and “specific factors” are unspecified, they might include some of the ones that you originally included parenthetically in your question (and they might have been left unspecified in the Law for the same reason you edited them out of your question).

"Just like sci-fi movies, based on predictive modeling and data analysis, we can identify pre-offenders."

  • 1
    I like this term better than precriminal. It's less judgmental of the individual involved, and it aligns nicely with SpaGirl's reference to the term used in the UK, i.e., person at risk of offending. And it's one word! Sep 6, 2016 at 15:54

There is reprobate and rogue, both of which describe an unprincipled person (which is also a characteristic of a criminal).

Delinquent is typically, but not necessarily, a young person, given that there is also juvenile delinquent. Finally there is the term "at-risk" usually in reference to youth who could become delinquents.

  • Not every person who commits a crime commits it because they are unprincipled or devious. A lot of crime is committed from desperation of lack of perceived options or freedom to do otherwise. Not everyone who breaks the law does so for badness' sake or greed.
    – Spagirl
    Sep 6, 2016 at 15:09
  • One used to come across references in the media to someone being a member of the criminal classes or being part of a crime family. These were pejorative descriptions but did not necessarily mean that all family members were criminal by conviction or intent. One can cite the case of a much loved character actress in the UK who had married into a well known and feared East End (London) crime family. To my knowledge she has no criminal record (the tabloid media would have picked up on this if she had) and is now divorced from her villainous husband. Sep 6, 2016 at 15:10

Based on predictive modeling and data analysis, we can identify potential offenders (word for those who are likely to commit a crime). Or high risk individuals. In the latter case, you'd need the context to know exactly what is meant.

You can also get the idea across in a simple way, with a little rewriting: Based on predictive modeling and data analysis, we can identify certain likely profiles. (As some comments pointed out, what you are talking about is called "profiling".)

If I just go by your description of the word you're looking for, without considering your example sentence, I would also suggest:

shifty character (a little old-fashioned, but it still works for me)

suspicious character

Side question for OP: what does sci-fi have to do with this?

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