Introduction: Substance misuse is strongly correlated with criminal offending and several studies have shown that many incarcerated women meet lifetime criteria for alcohol, drug, and other mental health disorders. This study aims to identify distinctive clinical, social and criminological features of female inmates who committed homicide or robbery. Methods: It was a retrospective and cross-sectional study carried out inside a Feminine Penitentiary in São Paulo, Brazil. From July 2006 to July 2008, 88 inmates convicted of homicide and 94 convicted of robbery were evaluated with reference to alcohol and drug misuse, impulsiveness, depressive symptoms, and their juridical reports were reviewed. Results: Female inmates convicted only of homicide have shown better pre-morbid adjustment (socioeconomic status, employment), and better behavioral profile (fewer previous criminal records, less substance abuse) than inmates condemned only for robbery. An earlier beginning of criminal activities and higher scores on drug misuse have been verified in female robbers. Discussion: Substance misuse and the age of the beginning of criminal activities can be factors that set apart female inmates who committed homicide from those who perpetrated robbery. These differences may generate more specific management proposals for each group of female inmates.