Suspect, person of interest or perpetrator

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Suspect, person of interest and perpetrator are three terms that law enforcement officers use to describe people involved in crimes. We will look at the difference between suspect, person of interest and perpetrator and look at few instances of their use in sentences.

The suspect in a crime is a specific person who authorities believe may have committed the crime. When a crime is committed, authorities follow evidence until they discover the person who they believe is responsible for the crime. In order to convict a suspect, the authorities must prove their case in a court of law. Until the case is proven, a suspect is not considered guilty.

A person of interest refers to someone who authorities believe may have information pertinent to a crime. A person of interest may be someone who can provide information that leads to a suspect or may turn into a suspect himself. Sometimes a person of interest needs protection from law enforcement because of the information they have. Person of interest is primarily an American term.

The perpetrator is the person who commits the crime. Legally, the perpetrator is unknown until someone is convicted of the crime. The term is used to describe what a criminal did in the commission of a crime, though it does not apply to a specific person unless that person is convicted. An American abbreviation, perp, is often used in place of the word perpetrator. Remember, a suspect is accused of committing a crime, a person of interest is believed to have information that will aid in the the solving of a crime, and a perpetrator is the person who has committed a certain crime.


Another bombing suspect Tanmichi Totayong who was arrested in Bangkok’s Ramkhamhaeng area last week said he and the two other men had hidden plastic pipes and detonation caps above ceiling tiles in the rented room in Bang Sao Thong. (The Bangkok Post)

The person of interest in a shooting on Friday in Brazil has died, according to Indiana State Police Trooper B.J. Patterson. (The Terre Haute Tribune Star)

The FBI is trying to crack open another password-locked iPhone, this time belonging to Dahir Adan, the perpetrator of a knife attack on a Minnesota mall in which 10 people were stabbed. (The Guardian)