The Most Likely Criminal: Man Under 25

WASHINGTON -- More than half of those convicted of violent felonies in large urban areas between 1990 and 2002 had previous convictions, the government reported Sunday.

Nearly four in 10, or 38 percent, of those convicted of violent felonies had previous felony convictions.

Another 18 percent had prior misdemeanor convictions.

In all, 56 percent of violent felons during that period had prior convictions of some sort, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported.

More than half of those guilty of assault, robbery or murder had at least one prior felony or misdemeanor conviction. Rapists were least likely to already have a conviction record.

Of those with felony convictions between 1990 and 2002, 15 percent of that group were guilty of prior violent felonies - murder, rape, robbery or assault.

The study released Sunday by the Justice Department examined crime figures from the nation's 75 most populous counties, ranging from Los Angeles and Pima County, Ariz., to Pinellas County, Fla., and Montgomery County, Md., just outside Washington.

About half of all the violent crimes reported nationwide occur in these areas, the report said.