"Criminal" was the first single from Framing Hanley's third album. In our interview with lead singer Kenneth Nixon, he explained: "A lot of times a guy or a girl in a relationship feels like they do all the wrong things all because of how much they care about their significant other or sometimes their mistress or what have you. That's really an overall theme with that song: handling that from that perspective. The subject matter of 'Criminal' was about doing things that you know very well better than doing, and doing it all because this girl's got you wrapped around her fingers."
The line, "Girl, you make me a criminal" is really about Taylor Swift. Kenneth Nixon's 4-year-old son was a big fan, much to his dad's dismay. "As a rock guy, you want your son listening to Foo Fighters, stuff like that, so I always get onto him about, 'Hey, dude, check this out,'" he told us. "He wanted to listen to Taylor. And I was, like, 'Oh, come on, man.'"
Nixon gets the appeal of Swift, however. He added: "When I'm not around my son and I'm driving, headed somewhere alone in the car, I find myself listening on my iPhone to Taylor Swift's newest album. So it was like I was breaking the law that I set forth in some ways!"
For the music video about a man falsely accused of domestic violence, the band's longtime director Mason Dixon asked himself, "What's a way that he could be a criminal without being a criminal? How could we twist that to where you're expecting one thing and then it's something else." Dixon told Songfacts he wasn't sure if the idea would work, having a woman beat herself up to frame her boyfriend, until he talked to the real police officers who appeared at the end of the video. "I asked them, 'Do you see things like this at all?' And they said, 'Oh yeah, this happens more often than you would think.' I don't know how long ago it was but a woman had put an orange in a sock and had pelted herself with it. So, once they started telling me stories I was like, Okay, we're good. We'll just keep going.'"