Search Conditions

A-Z Index

1983 lawsuit

A civil suit brought under Title 42, Section 1983, of the U.S. Code against anyone who denies others their constitutional right to life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

abused child

A child who has been physically, sexually, or mentally abused. Most states also consider a child who is forced into delinquent activity by a parent or guardian to be abused.


The judgment of a court, based on a verdict of a jury or a judicial officer, that the defendant is not guilty of the offense or offenses for which he or she was tried.

actus reus

An act in violation of the law. Also, a guilty act.


The process by which a court arrives at a decision regarding a case. Also, the resultant decision.

adjudicatory hearing

The fact-finding process wherein the juvenile court determines whether there is sufficient evidence to sustain the allegations in a petition.


Administrative maximum. The term is used by the federal government to denote ultra-high-security prisons.


In corrections, the entry of an offender into the legal jurisdiction of a correctional agency or into the physical custody of a correctional facility.


A person who is within the original jurisdiction of a criminal court, rather than a juvenile court, because his or her age at the time of an alleged criminal act was above a statutorily specified limit.

adversarial system

The two-sided structure under which American criminal trial courts operate that pits the prosecution against the defense. In theory, justice is done when the most effective adversary is able to convince the judge or jury that his or her perspective on the case is the correct one.


In juvenile justice usage, the status or program membership of a juvenile who has been committed to a treatment or confinement facility, conditionally released from the facility, and placed in a supervisory or treatment program.

aggravated assault (UCR)

The unlawful, intentional inflicting, or attempted or threatened inflicting, of serious injury upon the person of another. While aggravated assault and simple assault are standard terms for reporting purposes, most state penal codes use labels like first-degree and second-degree to make such distinctions.

aggravating circumstances

Circumstances relating to the commission of a crime that make it more grave than the average instance of the given type of offense. See also mitigating circumstances.


Any name used for an official purpose that is different from a person’s legal name.


A statement or contention by an individual charged with a crime that he or she was so distant when the crime was committed, or so engaged in other provable activities, that his or her participation in the commission of that crime was impossible.

alter ego rule

In some jurisdictions, a rule of law that holds that a person can only defend a third party under circumstances and only to the degree that the third party could act on his or her own behalf.

alternative sanctions

See intermediate sanctions.


A socially pervasive condition of normlessness. Also, a disjunction between approved goals and means.

Antiterrorism Act

See USA PATRIOT Act of 2001.


Generally, the request that a court with appellate jurisdiction review the judgment, decision, or order of a lower court and set it aside (reverse it) or modify it.

appearance (court)

The act of coming into a court and submitting to its authority.


The person who contests the correctness of a court order, judgment, or other decision and who seeks review and relief in a court having appellate jurisdiction. Also, the person in whose behalf this is done.

appellate court

A court whose primary function is to review the judgments of other courts and of administrative agencies.

appellate jurisdiction

The lawful authority of a court to review a decision made by a lower court.


Strictly, the hearing before a court having jurisdiction in a criminal case, in which the identity of the defendant is established, the defendant is informed of the charge and of his or her rights, and the defendant is required to enter a plea. Also, in some usages, any appearance in criminal court prior to trial.


The act of taking an adult or juvenile into physical custody by authority of law for the purpose of charging the person with a criminal offense, a delinquent act, or a status offense, terminating with the recording of a specific offense. Technically, an arrest occurs whenever a law enforcement officer curtails a person’s freedom to leave.

arrest (UCR)

In Uniform Crime Reports terminology, each separate instance in which a person is taken into physical custody or is notified or cited by a law enforcement officer or agency, except those relating to minor traffic violations.

arrest rate

The number of arrests reported for each unit of population.

arrest warrant

A document issued by a judicial officer which directs a law enforcement officer to arrest an identified person who has been accused of a specific offense.


The burning or attempted burning of property, with or without the intent to defraud. Some instances of arson result from malicious mischief, some involve attempts to claim insurance monies, and some are committed in an effort to disguise other crimes, such as murder, burglary, or larceny.

arson (UCR)

The burning or attempted burning of property, with or without the intent to defraud.

Ashurst-Sumners Act

Federal legislation of 1935 that effectively ended the industrial prison era by restricting interstate commerce in prison-made goods.

assault (UCR)

An unlawful attack by one person upon another. Historically, assault meant only the attempt to inflict injury on another person; a completed act constituted the separate offense of battery. Under modern statistical usage, however, attempted and completed acts are grouped together under the generic term assault.

assault on a law enforcement officer

A simple or aggravated assault, in which the victim is a law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of his or her duties.


A condition characterized by the existence of features thought to be common in earlier stages of human evolution.

attendant circumstances

The facts surrounding an event.


A person trained in the law, admitted to practice before the bar of a given jurisdiction, and authorized to advise, represent, and act for others in legal proceedings. Also called lawyer; legal counsel.

Auburn system

A form of imprisonment developed in New York State around 1820 that depended on mass prisons, where prisoners were held in congregate fashion requiring silence. This style of imprisonment was a primary competitor with the Pennsylvania system.

augmented reality (AR)

The real-time and accurate overlay of digital information on a user’s real-world experience, through visual, aural, and/or tactile interfaces.4 The computer readouts superimposed on the visual fields of the fictional cyborgs in the various Robocop and Terminator movies provide an example.

1. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dictionary of Criminal Justice Data Terminology, 2d ed. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1982).
2. Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, 1984).
3. BJS, Dictionary of Criminal Justice Data Terminology, p. 5.
4. Thomas J. Cowper and Michael E. Buerger, Improving Our View of the World: Police and Augmented Reality Technology (Washington, D.C.: Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2003). Web posted at Accessed October 7, 2003.

backlog (court)

The number of cases awaiting disposition in a court which exceeds the court’s capacity for disposing of them within the period of time considered appropriate.


The money or property pledged to the court or actually deposited with the court to effect the release of a person from legal custody.

bail bond

A document guaranteeing the appearance of a defendant in court as required and recording the pledge of money or property to be paid to the court if he or she does not appear, which is signed by the person to be released and anyone else acting in his or her behalf.

bail bondsman

A person, usually licensed, whose business it is to effect release on bail for people charged with offenses and held in custody, by pledging to pay a sum of money if the defendant fails to appear in court as required.


The court officer whose duties are to keep order in the courtroom and to maintain physical custody of the jury.

bail revocation

The court decision withdrawing the status of release on bail which was previously conferred upon a defendant.

balancing test

A principle, developed by the courts and applied to the corrections arena by Pell v. Procunier (1974), which attempts to weigh the rights of an individual, as guaranteed by the Constitution, against the authority of states to make laws or to otherwise restrict a person’s freedom in order to protect the state’s interests and its citizens.


The analysis of firearms, ammunition, projectiles, bombs, and explosives.

battered women’s syndrome (BWS)

1. A series of common characteristics that appear in women who are abused physically and psychologically over an extended period of time by the dominant male figure in their lives. 2. A pattern of psychological symptoms that develops after somebody has lived in a battering relationship. 3. A pattern of responses and perceptions presumed to be characteristic of women who have been subjected to continuous physical abuse by their mates.

behavioral conditioning

A psychological principle that holds that the frequency of any behavior can be increased or decreased through reward, punishment, and association with other stimuli.

bench warrant

A document issued by a court directing that a law enforcement officer bring a specified person before the court. A bench warrant is usually issued for a person who has failed to obey a court order or a notice to appear.

bias crime

See hate crime.

Bill of Rights

The popular name given to the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which are considered especially important in the processing of criminal defendants.

bind over

To require by judicial authority that a person promise to appear for trial, appear in court as a witness, or keep the peace. Also, the decision by a court of limited jurisdiction requiring that a person charged with a felony appear for trial on that charge in a court of general jurisdiction, as the result of a finding of probable cause at a preliminary hearing held in the court of limited jurisdiction.


A criminal offense perpetrated through the use of biologically active substances, including chemicals and toxins, disease-causing organisms, altered genetic material, and organic tissues and organs. Biocrimes unlawfully affect the metabolic, biochemical, genetic, physiological, or anatomical status of living organisms.

Biological School

A perspective on criminological thought that holds that criminal behavior has a physiological basis.

biological weapon

A biological agent used to threaten human life (for example, anthrax, smallpox, or any infectious disease).


The science of recognizing people by physical characteristics and personal traits.


The intentional or threatened use of viruses, bacteria, fungi, or toxins from living organisms to produce death or disease in humans, animals, or plants.

Bivens action

A civil suit, based on the case of Bivens v. Six Unknown Federal Agents, brought against federal government officials for denying the constitutional rights of others.


The popular British name given to members of Sir Robert (Bob) Peel’s Metropolitan Police Force.


A law enforcement or correctional administrative process officially recording an entry into detention after arrest and identifying the person, the place, the time, the reason for the arrest, and the arresting authority.

Bow Street Runners

An early English police unit formed under the leadership of Henry Fielding, magistrate of the Bow Street region of London.

broken windows thesis

A perspective on crime causation that holds that physical deterioration in an area leads to higher crime rates and an increased concern for personal safety among residents.

Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)

A U.S. Department of Justice agency responsible for the collection of criminal justice data, including the annual National Crime Victimization Survey.


By the narrowest and oldest definition, trespassory breaking and entering of the dwelling house of another in the nighttime with the intent to commit a felony.

burglary (UCR)

The unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or a theft (excludes tents, trailers, and other mobile units used for recreational purposes). For the UCR, the crime of burglary can be reported if (1) an unlawful entry of an unlocked structure has occurred, (2) a breaking and entering (of a secured structure) has taken place, or (3) a burglary has been attempted.

5. People v. Romero, 8 Cal. 4th 728, 735 (1994).

6. Technical Working Group on Crime Scene Investigation, Crime Scene Investigation: A Guide for Law Enforcement (Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice, 2000), p. 12.

7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bioterrorism: An Overview. Web posted at Accessed August 5, 2003.

capacity (legal)

The legal ability of a person to commit a criminal act. Also, the mental and physical ability to act with purpose and to be aware of the certain, probable, or possible results of one’s conduct.

capacity (prison)

See prison capacity.

capital offense

A criminal offense punishable by death.

capital punishment

The death penalty. Capital punishment is the most extreme of all sentencing options.

career criminal

In prosecutorial and law enforcement usage, a person who has a past record of multiple arrests or convictions for serious crimes or who has an unusually large number of arrests or convictions for crimes of varying degrees of seriousness. Also called professional criminal.

carnal knowledge

Sexual intercourse, coitus, sexual copulation. Carnal knowledge is accomplished “if there is the slightest penetration of the sexual organ of the female by the sexual organ of the male.”8

case law

The body of judicial precedent, historically built on legal reasoning and past interpretations of statutory laws, that serves as a guide to decision making, especially in the courts.


The number of probation or parole clients assigned to one probation or parole officer for supervision.

caseload (corrections)

The total number of clients registered with a correctional agency or agent on a given date or during a specified time period, often divided into active supervisory cases and inactive cases, thus distinguishing between clients with whom contact is regular and those with whom it is not. Also, the number of probation or parole clients assigned to one probation or parole officer for supervision.

caseload (court)

The number of cases requiring judicial action at a certain time. Also, the number of cases acted upon in a given court during a given period.


See writ of certiorari.

chain of command

The unbroken line of authority that extends through all levels of an organization, from the highest to the lowest.

change of venue

The movement of a trial or lawsuit from one jurisdiction to another or from one location to another within the same jurisdiction. A change of venue may be made in a criminal case to ensure that the defendant receives a fair trial.


An allegation that a specified person has committed a specific offense, recorded in a functional document such as a record of an arrest, a complaint, an information or indictment, or a judgment of conviction. Also called count.

Chicago School

A sociological approach that emphasizes demographics (the characteristics of population groups) and geographics (the mapped location of such groups relative to one another) and that sees the social disorganization that characterizes delinquency areas as a major cause of criminality and victimization.

child abuse

The illegal physical, emotional, or sexual mistreatment of a child by his or her parent or guardian.

child neglect

The illegal failure by a parent or guardian to provide proper nourishment or care to a child.

circumstantial evidence

Evidence that requires interpretation or that requires a judge or jury to reach a conclusion based on what the evidence indicates. From the close proximity of the defendant to a smoking gun, for example, the jury might conclude that she pulled the trigger.

citation (to appear)

A written order issued by a law enforcement officer directing an alleged offender to appear in a specific court at a specified time to answer a criminal charge, and not permitting forfeit of bail as an alternative to court appearance.

citizen’s arrest

The taking of a person into physical custody by a witness to a crime other than a law enforcement officer for the purpose of delivering him or her to the physical custody of a law enforcement officer or agency.

civil death

The legal status of prisoners in some jurisdictions who are denied the opportunity to vote, hold public office, marry, or enter into contracts by virtue of their status as incarcerated felons. While civil death is primarily of historical interest, some jurisdictions still limit the contractual opportunities available to inmates.

civil justice

The civil law, the law of civil procedure, and the array of procedures and activities having to do with private rights and remedies sought by civil action. Civil justice cannot be separated from social justice because the kind of justice enacted in our nation’s civil courts is a reflection of basic American understandings of right and wrong.

civil law

The branch of modern law that governs relationships between parties.

civil liability

Potential responsibility for payment of damages or other court-ordered enforcement as a result of a ruling in a lawsuit. Civil liability is not the same as criminal liability, which means “open to punishment for a crime.”

class-action lawsuit

A lawsuit filed by one or more people on behalf of themselves and a larger group of people “who are similarly situated.”

Classical School

An eighteenth-century approach to crime causation and criminal responsibility that grew out of the Enlightenment and that emphasized the role of free will and reasonable punishments. Classical thinkers believed that punishment, if it is to be an effective deterrent, has to outweigh the potential pleasure derived from criminal behavior.

classification system

A system used by prison administrators to assign inmates to custody levels based on offense history, assessed dangerousness, perceived risk of escape, and other factors.

clearance (UCR)

The event in which a known occurrence of a Part I offense is followed by an arrest or another decision which indicates that the crime has been solved.

clearance rate

A traditional measure of investigative effectiveness that compares the number of crimes reported or discovered to the number of crimes solved through arrest or other means (such as the death of the suspect).


An executive or legislative action in which the severity of punishment of a single person or a group of people is reduced, the punishment is stopped, or the person or group is exempted from prosecution for certain actions.

closing argument

An oral summation of a case presented to a judge, or to a judge and jury, by the prosecution or by the defense in a criminal trial.

club drug

A synthetic psychoactive substance often found at nightclubs, bars, “raves,” and dance parties. Club drugs include MDMA (ecstasy), ketamine, methamphetamine (meth), GBL, PCP, GHB, and Rohypnol.


The act or process of rendering laws in written form.


A group of individuals sharing similarities of age, place of birth, and residence. Cohort analysis is a social science technique that tracks cohorts over time to identify the unique and observable behavioral traits that characterize them.

comes stabuli

A nonuniformed mounted law enforcement officer of medieval England. Early police forces were small and relatively unorganized but made effective use of local resources in the formation of posses, the pursuit of offenders, and the like.


The action of a judicial officer in ordering that a person subject to judicial proceedings be placed in a particular kind of confinement or residential facility for a specific reason authorized by law. Also, the result of the actionÑthat is, the admission to the facility.

common law

Law originating from usage and custom rather than from written statutes. The term refers to an unwritten body of judicial opinion, originally developed by English courts, that is based on nonstatutory customs, traditions, and precedents that help guide judicial decision making.

community-based corrections

See community corrections.

community corrections

The use of a variety of officially ordered program-based sanctions that permit convicted offenders to remain in the community under conditional supervision as an alternative to an active prison sentence. Also called community-based corrections.

community court

A low-level court that focuses on quality-of-life crimes that erode a neighborhood’s morale, that emphasizes problem solving rather than punishment, and that builds on restorative principles like community service and restitution.

community policing

“A collaborative effort between the police and the community that identifies problems of crime and disorder and involves all elements of the community in the search for solutions to these problems.”

community service

A sentencing alternative that requires offenders to spend at least part of their time working for a community agency.

comparative criminologist

One who studies crime and criminal justice on a cross-national level.

compelling interest

A legal concept that provides a basis for suspicionless searches when public safety is at issue. (Urinalysis tests of train engineers are an example.) It is the concept on which the U.S. Supreme Court cases of Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives’ Association (1989) and National Treasury Employees Union v. Von Raab (1989) turned. In those cases, the Court held that public safety may sometimes provide a sufficiently compelling interest to justify limiting an individual’s right to privacy.

compensatory damages

Damages recovered in payment for an actual injury or economic loss.

competent to stand trial

A finding by a court, when the defendant’s sanity at the time of trial is at issue, that the defendant has sufficient present ability to consult with his or her attorney with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and that the defendant has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him or her.


Generally, any accusation that a person has committed an offense, received by or originating from a law enforcement or prosecutorial agency or received by a court. Also, in judicial process usage, a formal document submitted to the court by a prosecutor, law enforcement officer, or other person, alleging that a specified person has committed a specific offense and requesting prosecution.


A crime-analysis and police-management process built on crime mapping that was developed by the New York City Police Department in the mid-1990s.

computer crime

Any crime perpetrated through the use of computer technology. Also, any violation of a federal or state computer-crime statute. Also called cybercrime.

computer virus

A computer program designed to secretly invade systems and either modify the way in which they operate or alter the information they store. Viruses are destructive software programs that may effectively vandalize computers of all types and sizes.


The coexistence of (1) an act in violation of the law and (2) a culpable mental state.

concurrent sentence

One of two or more sentences imposed at the same time, after conviction for more than one offense, and served at the same time. Also, a new sentence for a new conviction, imposed upon a person already under sentence for a previous offense, served at the same time as the previous sentence.

concurring opinion

An opinion written by a judge who agrees with the conclusion reached by the majority of judges hearing a case but whose reasons for reaching that conclusion differ. Concurring opinions, which typically stem from an appellate review, are written to identify issues of precedent, logic, or emphasis that are important to the concurring judge but that were not identified by the court’s majority opinion.

conditional release

The release by executive decision of a prisoner from a federal or state correctional facility who has not served his or her full sentence and whose freedom is contingent on obeying specified rules of behavior.

conditions of parole (probation)

The general and special limits imposed on an offender who is released on parole (or probation). General conditions tend to be fixed by state statute, while special conditions are mandated by the sentencing authority (court or board) and take into consideration the background of the offender and the circumstances of the offense.


In corrections terminology, the physical restriction of a person to a clearly defined area from which he or she is lawfully forbidden to depart and from which departure is usually constrained by architectural barriers, guards or other custodians, or both.

conflict model

A criminal justice perspective that assumes that the system’s components function primarily to serve their own interests. According to this theoretical framework, justice is more a product of conflicts among agencies within the system than it is the result of cooperation among component agencies.

conflict perspective

A theoretical approach that holds that crime is the natural consequence of economic and other social inequities. Conflict theorists highlight the stresses that arise among and within social groups as they compete with one another for resources and for survival. The social forces that result are viewed as major determinants of group and individual behavior, including crime.

consecutive sentence

One of two or more sentences imposed at the same time, after conviction for more than one offense, and served in sequence with the other sentence. Also, a new sentence for a new conviction, imposed upon a person already under sentence for a previous offense, which is added to the previous sentence, thus increasing the maximum time the offender may be confined or under supervision.

consensus model

A criminal justice perspective that assumes that the system’s components work together harmoniously to achieve the social product we call justice.

constitutive criminology

The study of the process by which human beings create an ideology of crime that sustains the notion of crime as a concrete reality.


The aspects of the social bond and of the personality that act to prevent individuals from committing crimes and that keep them from engaging in deviance.

contempt of court

Intentionally obstructing a court in the administration of justice, acting in a way calculated to lessen the court’s authority or dignity, or failing to obey the court’s lawful orders.

controlled substance

A specifically defined bioactive or psychoactive chemical substance proscribed by law.

Controlled Substances Act (CSA)

Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, which established schedules classifying psychoactive drugs according to their degree of psychoactivity.


The judgment of a court, based on the verdict of a jury or judicial officer or on the guilty plea or nolo contendere plea of the defendant, that the defendant is guilty of the offense with which he or she has been charged.

corporate crime

A violation of a criminal statute by a corporate entity or by its executives, employees, or agents acting on behalf of and for the benefit of the corporation, partnership, or other form of business entity.

corpus delicti

The facts that show that a crime has occurred. The term literally means “the body of the crime.”

correctional agency

A federal, state, or local criminal or juvenile justice agency, under a single administrative authority, whose principal functions are the intake screening, supervision, custody, confinement, treatment, or presentencing or predisposition investigation of alleged or adjudicated adult offenders, youthful offenders, delinquents, or status offenders.


A generic term that includes all government agencies, facilities, programs, procedures, personnel, and techniques concerned with the intake, custody, confinement, supervision, treatment, and presentencing and predisposition investigation of alleged or adjudicated adult offenders, youthful offenders, delinquents, and status offenders.


See police corruption.

Cosa Nostra

A secret criminal organization of Sicilian origin. Also called Mafia.

counsel (legal)

See attorney.

count (offense)

See charge.


An agency or unit of the judicial branch of government, authorized or established by statute or constitution and consisting of one or more judicial officers, which has the authority to decide cases, controversies in law, and disputed matters of fact brought before it.

court calendar

The court schedule; the list of events comprising the daily or weekly work of a court, including the assignment of the time and place for each hearing or other item of business or the list of matters which will be taken up in a given court term. Also called docket.

court clerk

An elected or appointed court officer responsible for maintaining the written records of the court and for supervising or performing the clerical tasks necessary for conducting judicial business. Also, any employee of a court whose principal duties are to assist the court clerk in performing the clerical tasks necessary for conducting judicial business.

court disposition

1. For statistical reporting purposes, generally, the judicial decision terminating proceedings in a case before judgment is reached. 2. The judgment. 3. The outcome of judicial proceedings and the manner in which the outcome was arrived at.


A military court convened by senior commanders under the authority of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for the purpose of trying a member of the armed forces accused of a violation of the code.

court of last resort

The court authorized by law to hear the final appeal on a matter.

court of record

A court in which a complete and permanent record of all proceedings or specified types of proceedings is kept.

court order

A mandate, command, or direction issued by a judicial officer in the exercise of his or her judicial authority.

court probation

A criminal court requirement that an offender fulfill specified conditions of behavior in lieu of a sentence to confinement, but without assignment to a probation agency’s supervisory caseload.

court reporter

A person present during judicial proceedings who records all testimony and other oral statements made during the proceedings.

courtroom work group

The professional courtroom actors, including judges, prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys, public defenders, and others who earn a living serving the court.

credit card fraud

The use or attempted use of a credit card to obtain goods or services with the intent to avoid payment.


Conduct in violation of the criminal laws of a state, the federal government, or a local jurisdiction, for which there is no legally acceptable justification or excuse.

crime-control model

A criminal justice perspective that emphasizes the efficient arrest and conviction of criminal offenders.

Crime Index

An inclusive measure of the violent and property crime categories, or Part I offenses, of the Uniform Crime Reports. The Crime Index has been a useful tool for geographic (state-to-state) and historical (year-to-year) comparisons because it employs the concept of a crime rate (the number of crimes per unit of population). However, the addition of arson as an eighth index offense and the new requirements with regard to the gathering of hate-crime statistics could result in new Crime Index measurements that provide less-than-ideal comparisons.

crime prevention

The anticipation, recognition, and appraisal of a crime risk and the initiation of action to eliminate or reduce it.

crime rate

The number of Crime Index offenses reported for each unit of population.

crime scene

The physical area in which a crime is thought to have occurred and in which evidence of the crime is thought to reside.

crime-scene investigator

An expert trained in the use of forensics techniques, such as gathering DNA evidence, collecting fingerprints, pho-tography, sketching, and inteviewing witnesses.

crime typology

A classification of crimes along a particular dimension, such as legal categories, offender motivation, victim behavior, or the characteristics of individual offenders.

criminal homicide (UCR)

The act of causing the death of another person without legal justification or excuse.

criminal incident

In National Crime Victimization Survey terminology, a criminal event involving one or more victims and one or more offenders.

criminal investigation

“The process of discovering, collecting, preparing, identifying, and presenting evidence to determine what happened and who is responsible”13 when a crime has occurred.


A police crime-scene analyst or laboratory worker versed in criminalistics.


The use of technology in the service of criminal investigation; the application of scientific techniques to the detection and evaluation of criminal evidence,

criminal justice

In the strictest sense, the criminal (penal) law, the law of criminal procedure, and the array of procedures and activities having to do with the enforcement of this body of law. Criminal justice cannot be separated from social justice because the kind of justice enacted in our nation’s criminal courts is a reflection of basic American understandings of right and wrong.

criminal justice system

The aggregate of all operating and administrative or technical support agencies that perform criminal justice functions. The basic divisions of the operational aspects of criminal justice are law enforcement, courts, and corrections.

criminal law

The branch of modern law that concerns itself with offenses committed against society, its members, their property, and the social order. Also called penal law.

criminal negligence

Behavior in which a person fails to reasonably perceive substantial and unjustifiable risks of dangerous consequences.

criminal proceedings

The regular and orderly steps, as directed or authorized by statute or a court of law, taken to determine whether an adult accused of a crime is guilty or not guilty.


The scientific study of the causes and prevention of crime and the rehabilitation and punishment of offenders.

cruel and unusual punishment

Punishment involving torture or a lingering death or the infliction of unnecessary and wanton pain.


Blameworthiness; responsibility in some sense for an event or situation deserving of moral blame. Also, in Model Penal Code usage, a state of mind on the part of one who is committing an act which makes him or her potentially subject to prosecution for that act.

cultural defense

A defense to a criminal charge in which the defendant’s culture is taken into account in judging his or her culpability.

cultural pluralism

See multiculturalism.


In legal usage, the area surrounding a residence that can reasonably be said to be a part of the residence for Fourth Amendment purposes.


The legal or physical control of a person or a thing. Also, the legal, supervisory, or physical responsibility for a person or a thing.


See computer crime.


The use of the Internet, e-mail, and other electronic communication technologies to stalk another person.


A form of terrorism that makes use of high technology, especially computers and the Internet, in the planning and carrying out of terrorist attacks.

8. State v. Cross, 200 S.E.2d 27, 29 (1973).

9. Adapted from Gerald Hill and Kathleen Hill, The Real Life Dictionary of the Law. Web posted at Accessed June 11, 2003.

10. Hill and Hill, The Real Life Dictionary of the Law. Accessed February 21, 2002.

11. Community Policing Consortium, What Is Community Policing? (Washington, D.C.: Community Policing Consortium, 1995).

12. Michael L. Benson, Francis T. Cullen, and William J. Maakestad, Local Prosecutors and Corporate Crime (Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice, 1992), p. 1.

13. Wayne W. Bennett and Karen M. Hess, Criminal Investigation, 6th ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2001), p. 3. Italics in original.

14. Violence against Women Office, Stalking and Domestic Violence: Report to Congress (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, 2001).

danger law

A law intended to prevent the pretrial release of criminal defendants judged to represent a danger to others in the community.


The likelihood that a given individual will later harm society or others. Dangerousness is often measured in terms of recidivism, or the likelihood of additional crime commission within five years following arrest or release from confinement.

dark figure of crime

Crime that is not reported to the police and that remains unknown to officials.

data encryption

The encoding of computerized information.

date rape

Unlawful forced sexual intercourse with a female against her will that occurs within the context of a dating relationship. Date rape, or acquaintance rape, is a subcategory of rape that is of special concern today.

Daubert standard

A test of scientific acceptability applicable to the gathering of evidence in criminal cases.

deadly force

Force likely to cause death or great bodily harm. Also, “the intentional use of a firearm or other instrument resulting in a high probability of death.”

deadly weapon

An instrument designed to inflict serious bodily injury or death or capable of being used for such a purpose.

deconstructionist theory

One of the emerging approaches that challenges existing criminological perspectives to debunk them and that works toward replacing them with concepts more applicable to the postmodern era.


The redefinition of certain previously criminal behaviors into regulated activities that become “ticketable” rather than “arrestable.”


A person formally accused of an offense by the filing in court of a charging document.

defense (to a criminal charge)

Evidence and arguments offered by a defendant and his or her attorney to show why the defendant should not be held liable for a criminal charge.

defense attorney

See defense counsel.

defense counsel

A licensed trial lawyer hired or appointed to conduct the legal defense of a person accused of a crime and to represent him or her before a court of law. Also called defense attorney.

defensible space theory

The belief that an area’s physical features may be modified and structured so as to reduce crime rates in that area and to lower the fear of victimization that residents experience.


In the broadest usage, juvenile actions or conduct in violation of criminal law, juvenile status offenses, and other juvenile misbehavior.


A juvenile who has been adjudged by a judicial officer of a juvenile court to have committed a delinquent act.

delinquent act

An act committed by a juvenile for which an adult could be prosecuted in a criminal court, but for which a juvenile can be adjudicated in a juvenile court or prosecuted in a court having criminal jurisdiction if the juvenile court transfers jurisdiction. Generally, a felony- or misdemeanor-level offense in states employing those terms.

delinquent child

A child who has engaged in activity that would be considered a crime if the child were an adult. The term delinquent is used to avoid the stigma associated with the term criminal.

dependent child

A child who has no parents or whose parents are unable to care for him or her.

design capacity

The number of inmates a prison was intended to hold when it was built or modified. Also called bed capacity.


Usually, a person held in local, very short-term confinement while awaiting consideration for pretrial release or a first appearance for arraignment.


The legally authorized confinement of a person subject to criminal or juvenile court proceedings, until the point of commitment to a correctional facility or until release.

detention hearing

In juvenile justice usage, a hearing by a judicial officer of a juvenile court to determine whether a juvenile is to be detained, is to continue to be detained, or is to be released while juvenile proceedings are pending.

determinate sentencing

A model of criminal punishment in which an offender is given a fixed term that may be reduced by good time or gain time. Under the model, for example, all offenders convicted of the same degree of burglary would be sentenced to the same length of time behind bars. Also called fixed sentencing.


A goal of criminal sentencing that seeks to inhibit criminal behavior through the fear of punishment.


A violation of social norms defining appropriate or proper behavior under a particular set of circumstances. Deviance often includes criminal acts. Also called deviant behavior.

diminished capacity

A defense based on claims of a mental condition that may be insufficient to exonerate the defendant of guilt but that may be relevant to specific mental elements of certain crimes or degrees of crime. Also called diminished responsibility.

directed patrol

A police management strategy designed to increase the productivity of patrol officers through the scientific analysis and evaluation of patrol techniques.

direct evidence

Evidence that, if believed, directly proves a fact. Eyewitness testimony and videotaped documentation account for the majority of all direct evidence heard in the criminal courtroom.

direct-supervision jail

A temporary confinement facility that eliminates many of the traditional barriers between inmates and correctional staff. Physical barriers in direct-supervision jails are far less common than in traditional jails, allowing staff members the opportunity for greater interaction with, and control over, residents. Also called new-generation jail; podular-direct jail.


To release from confinement or supervision or to release from a legal status imposing an obligation upon the subject person.


See police discretion.


The action by a criminal or juvenile justice agency which signifies that a portion of the justice process is complete and that jurisdiction is terminated or transferred to another agency or which signifies that a decision has been reached on one aspect of a case and a different aspect comes under consideration, requiring a different kind of decision.

dispositional hearing

The final stage in the processing of adjudicated juveniles in which a decision is made on the form of treatment or penalty that should be imposed on the child.

dispute-resolution center

An informal hearing place designed to mediate interpersonal disputes without resorting to the more formal arrangements of a criminal trial court.

district attorney (DA)

See prosecutor.


The official suspension of criminal or juvenile proceedings against an alleged offender at any point after a recorded justice system intake, but before the entering of a judgment, and referral of that person to a treatment or care program administered by a nonjustice or private agency. Also, release without referral.

DNA profiling

The use of biological residue, found at the scene of a crime, for genetic comparisons in aiding in the identification of criminal suspects.


See court calendar.

domestic terrorism

The unlawful use of force or violence by a group or an individual who is based and operates entirely within the United States and its territories without foreign direction and whose acts are directed at elements of the U.S. government or population.

double jeopardy

A common law and constitutional prohibition against a second trial for the same offense.


Any chemical substance defined by social convention as bioactive or psychoactive.

drug abuse

Illicit drug use that results in social, economic, psychological, or legal problems for the user.

drug court

A special state, county, or municipal court that offers first-time substance-abuse offenders judicially mandated and court-supervised treatment alternatives to prison.

drug czar

The popular name for the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), a federal Cabinet-level position that was created during the Reagan presidency to organize federal drug-fighting efforts.

drug-law violation

The unlawful sale, purchase, distribution, manufacture, cultivation, transport, possession, or use of a controlled or prohibited drug. Also, the attempt to commit one of these acts.

due process

A right guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and generally understood, in legal contexts, to mean the due course of legal proceedings according to the rules and forms established for the protection of individual rights. In criminal proceedings, due process of law is generally understood to include the following basic elements: a law creating and defining the offense, an impartial tribunal having jurisdictional authority over the case, accusation in proper form, notice and opportunity to defend, trial according to established procedure, and discharge from all restraints or obligations unless convicted.

due process model

A criminal justice perspective that emphasizes individual rights at all stages of justice system processing.

15. Sam W. Lathrop, “Reviewing Use of Force: A Systematic Approach,” FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, October 2000, p. 18.

16. Adapted from Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI Policy and Guidelines: Counterterrorism.
Web posted at Accessed March 4, 2002.

17. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Drugs, Crime, and the Justice System (Washington, D.C.: BJS, 1992), p. 20.

Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)

A law passed by Congress in 1986 establishing the due process requirements that law enforcement officers must meet in order to legally intercept wire communications.

electronic evidence

Information and data of investigative value that are stored in or transmitted by an electronic device.

element (of a crime)

In a specific crime, one of the essential features of that crime, as specified by law or statute.


The misappropriation, or illegal disposal, of legally entrusted property by the person to whom it was entrusted, with the intent to defraud the legal owner or the intended beneficiary.

emergency search

A search conducted by the police without a warrant, which is justified on the basis of some immediate and overriding need, such as public safety, the likely escape of a dangerous suspect, or the removal or destruction of evidence.


An improper or illegal inducement to crime by agents of law enforcement. Also, a defense that may be raised when such inducements have occurred.


A sentencing principle, based on concerns with social equality, that holds that similar crimes should be punished with the same degree of severity, regardless of the social or personal characteristics of the offenders.


The “gathering, transmitting, or losing”19 of information related to the national defense in such a manner that the information becomes available to enemies of the United States and may be used to their advantage.


Holding a belief in the superiority of one’s own social or ethnic group and culture.


The phenomenon of “culture-centeredness,” by which one uses one’s own culture as a benchmark against which to judge all other patterns of behavior.

European Police Office (Europol)

The integrated police-intelligence gathering and dissemination arm of the member nations of the European Union.


Anything useful to a judge or jury in deciding the facts of a case. Evidence may take the form of witness testimony, written documents, videotapes, magnetic media, photographs, physical objects, and so on.

excessive force

The application of an amount and/or frequency of force greater than that required to compel compliance from a willing or unwilling subject.

exclusionary rule

The understanding, based on U.S. Supreme Court precedent, that incriminating information must be seized according to constitutional specifications of due process or it will not be allowed as evidence in a criminal trial.


A legal defense in which the defendant claims that some personal condition or circumstance at the time of the act was such that he or she should not be held accountable under the criminal law.

exemplary damages

See punitive damages.

Exemplary Projects Program

An initiative, sponsored by the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, designed to recognize outstanding innovative efforts to combat crime and to provide assistance to crime victims.

expert system

Computer hardware and software that attempts to duplicate the decision-making processes used by skilled investigators in the analysis of evidence and in the recognition of patterns that such evidence might represent.

expert witness

A person who has special knowledge and skills recognized by the court as relevant to the determination of guilt or innocence. Unlike lay witnesses, expert witnesses may express opinions or draw conclusions in their testimony.

ex post facto

Latin for “after the fact.” The Constitution prohibits the enactment of ex post facto laws, which make acts committed before the laws in question were passed punishable as crimes.


The surrender by one state to another of an individual accused or convicted of an offense in the second state.

18. Adapted from Technical Working Group for Electronic Crime Scene Investigation, Electronic Crime Scene Investigation: A Guide for First Responders (Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice, 2001), p. 2.

19. Henry Campbell Black, Joseph R. Nolan, and Jacqueline M. Nolan-Haley, Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th ed. (St. Paul, MN: West, 1990), p. 24.

20. International Association of Chiefs of Police, Police Use of Force in America 2001 (Alexandria, VA: IACP, 2001), p. 1.

federal court system

The three-tiered structure of federal courts, comprising U.S. district courts, U.S. courts of appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

federal law enforcement agency

A U.S. government agency or office whose primary functional responsibility is the enforcement of federal criminal laws.


A criminal offense punishable by death or by incarceration in a prison facility for at least one year.

feminist criminology

A developing intellectual approach that emphasizes gender issues in criminology.


The initiation of a criminal case by formal submission to the court of a charging document, alleging that a named person has committed a specified criminal offense.


The penalty imposed upon a convicted person by a court, requiring that he or she pay a specified sum of money to the court.

first appearance

An appearance before a magistrate during which the legality of the defendant’s arrest is initially assessed and the defendant is informed of the charges on which he or she is being held. At this stage in the criminal justice process, bail may be set or pretrial release arranged. Also called initial appearance.

first plea

See initial plea.

fixed sentencing

See determinate sentencing.

fleeting-targets exception

An exception to the exclusionary rule that permits law enforcement officers to search a motor vehicle based on probable cause but without a warrant. The fleeting-targets exception is predicated on the fact that vehicles can quickly leave the jurisdiction of a law enforcement agency.


See police use of force.

forcible rape (UCR)

The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will. For statistical reporting purposes, the FBI defines forcible rape as “unlawful sexual intercourse with a female, by force and against her will, or without legal or factual consent.” Statutory rape differs from forcible rape in that it generally involves nonforcible sexual intercourse with a minor. See also carnal knowledge and rape.

foreign terrorist organization (FTO)

A foreign organization that engages in terrorist activity that threatens the security of U.S. nationals or the national security of the United States and that is so designated by the U.S. secretary of state.

forensic anthropology

The use of anthropological principles and techniques in criminal investigation.

forensic entomology

The study of insects to determine such matters as a person’s time of death.


The authorized seizure of money, negotiable instruments, securities, or other things of value. Under federal antidrug laws, judicial representatives are authorized to seize all cash, negotiable instruments, securities, or other things of value furnished or intended to be furnished by any person in exchange for a controlled substance, as well as all proceeds traceable to such an exchange. Also called asset forfeiture.


The creation or alteration of a written or printed document, which if validly executed would constitute a record of a legally binding transaction, with the intent to defraud by affirming it to be the act of an unknowing second person. Also, the creation of an art object with intent to misrepresent the identity of the creator.


An offense involving deceit or intentional misrepresentation of fact, with the intent of unlawfully depriving a person of his or her property or legal rights.

frivolous suit

A lawsuit with no foundation in fact. Frivolous suits are generally brought by lawyers and plaintiffs for reasons of publicity, politics, or other non-law-related issues and may result in fines against plaintiffs and their counsel.

fruit of the poisoned tree doctrine

A legal principle that excludes from introduction at trial any evidence later developed as a result of an illegal search or seizure.

gain time

The amount of time deducted from time to be served in prison on a given sentence as a consequence of participation in special projects or programs.

general deterrence

A goal of criminal sentencing that seeks to prevent others from committing crimes similar to the one for which a particular offender is being sentenced by making an example of the person sentenced.


A process of social homogenization by which the experiences of everyday life, marked by the diffusion of commodities and ideas, can foster a standardization of cultural expressions around the world.21 Globalization involves the progressive erosion of the influence of nation-states and the rise in influence of global decision makers at both public and private levels.

good-faith exception

An exception to the exclusionary rule. Law enforcement officers who conduct a search or who seize evidence on the basis of good faith (that is, when they believe they are operating according to the dictates of the law) and who later discover that a mistake was made (perhaps in the format of the application for a search warrant) may still use the seized evidence in court.

good time

The amount of time deducted from time to be served in prison on a given sentence as a consequence of good behavior.

grand jury

A group of jurors who have been selected according to law and have been sworn to hear the evidence and to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to bring the accused person to trial, to investigate criminal activity generally, or to investigate the conduct of a public agency or official.

grievance procedure

A formalized arrangement, usually involving a neutral hearing board, whereby institutionalized individuals have the opportunity to register complaints about the conditions of their confinement.

gross negligence

The intentional failure to perform a manifest duty in reckless disregard of the consequences as affecting the life or property of another.

guilty but mentally ill (GBMI)

A verdict, equivalent to a finding of “guilty,” that establishes that the defendant, although mentally ill, was in sufficient possession of his or her faculties to be morally blameworthy for his or her acts.

guilty plea

A defendant’s formal answer in court to the charge or charges contained in a complaint, information, or indictment, claiming that he or she did commit the offense or offenses listed.

guilty verdict

See verdict.

21. Adapted from “Globalization,” Encyclopedia Britannica, 2003. Encyclopedia Britannica Premium Service. Web posted at Accessed July, 23, 2003.

22. Black, Nolan, and Nolan-Haley, Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th ed., p. 1003.

habeas corpus

See writ of habeas corpus.

habitual offender

A person sentenced under the provisions of a statute declaring that people convicted of a given offense, and shown to have previously been convicted of another specified offense, shall receive a more severe penalty than that for the current offense alone.


A computer hobbyist or professional, generally with advanced programming skills. Today, the term hacker has taken on a sinister connotation, referring to hobbyists who are bent on illegally accessing the computers of others or who attempt to demonstrate their technological prowess through computerized acts of vandalism.

hands-off doctrine

A policy of nonintervention with regard to prison management that U.S. courts tended to follow until the late 1960s. For the past 30 years, the doctrine has languished as judicial intervention in prison administration dramatically increased, although there is now some evidence that a new hands-off era is approaching.

Harrison Act

The first major piece of federal antidrug legislation, passed in 1914.

hate crime

A criminal offense in which the motive is “hatred, bias, or prejudice, based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation of another individual or group of individuals.”23 Also called bias crime.


A proceeding in which arguments, witnesses, or evidence is heard by a judicial officer or an administrative body.


Something that is not based on the personal knowledge of a witness. Witnesses who testify about something they have heard, for example, are offering hearsay by repeating information about a matter of which they have no direct knowledge.

hearsay rule

The long-standing precedent that hearsay cannot be used in American courtrooms. Rather than accepting testimony based on hearsay, the court will ask that the person who was the original source of the hearsay information be brought in to be questioned and cross-examined. Exceptions to the hearsay rule may occur when the person with direct knowledge is dead or is otherwise unable to testify.

hierarchy rule

A standard Uniform Crime Reports scoring practice in which only the most serious offense is counted in a multiple-offense incident.

high-technology crime

Violations of the criminal law whose commission depends upon, makes use of, and often targets sophisticated and advanced technology. See also computer crime.

home confinement

House arrest. Individuals ordered confined to their homes are sometimes monitored electronically to ensure they do not leave during the hours of confinement. Absence from the home during working hours is often permitted.


See criminal homicide.

Hudud crime

A serious violation of Islamic law that is regarded as an offense against God. Hudud crimes include such behavior as theft, adultery, sodomy, alcohol consumption, and robbery.

hung jury

A jury that, after long deliberation, is so irreconcilably divided in opinion that it is unable to reach any verdict.


An explanation that accounts for a set of facts and that can be tested by further investigation. Also, something that is taken to be true for the purpose of argument or investigation.

23. H. R. 4797, 102d Cong. 2d Sess. (1992).

24. The American Heritage Dictionary and Electronic Thesaurus on CD-ROM (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987).

identity management

The comprehensive management and administration of a user’s individual profile information, permissions, and privileges across a variety of social settings.

identity theft

A crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of information, such as Social Security and driver’s license numbers, to obtain credit, merchandise, and services in the name of the victim. The victim is often left with a ruined credit history and the time-consuming and complicated task of repairing the financial damages.

illegally seized evidence

Evidence seized without regard to the principles of due process as described by the Bill of Rights. Most illegally seized evidence is the result of police searches conducted without a proper warrant or of improperly conducted interrogations.

illegal search and seizure

An act in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which reads, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”


The use of imprisonment or other means to reduce the likelihood that an offender will commit future offenses.

inchoate offense

An offense not yet completed. Also, an offense that consists of an action or conduct that is a step toward the intended commission of another offense.

incident-based reporting

Compared with summary reporting, a less restrictive and more expansive method of collecting crime data in which all the analytical elements associated with an offense or arrest are compiled by a central collection agency on an incident-by-incident basis.

included offense

An offense that is made up of elements that are a subset of the elements of another offense having a greater statutory penalty, and the occurrence of which is established by the same evidence or by some portion of the evidence that has been offered to establish the occurrence of the greater offense.

incompetent to stand trial

In criminal proceedings, a finding by a court that as a result of mental illness, defect, or disability, a defendant is incapable of understanding the nature of the charges and proceedings against him or her, of consulting with an attorney, and of aiding in his or her own defense.

indeterminate sentence

A type of sentence to imprisonment in which the commitment, instead of being for a precise length of time, is for a range of time, such as two to five years or five years maximum and zero minimum.

indeterminate sentencing

A model of criminal punishment that encourages rehabilitation through the use of general and relatively unspecific sentences (such as a term of imprisonment of from one to ten years).

index crime

See Crime Index.


A formal, written accusation submitted to the court by a grand jury, alleging that a specified person has committed a specified offense, usually a felony.

individual rights

The rights guaranteed to all members of American society by the U.S. Constitution (especially those found in the first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights). These rights are particularly important to criminal defendants facing formal processing by the criminal justice system.

individual-rights advocate

One who seeks to protect personal freedoms within the process of criminal justice.

industrial prison

A correctional model intended to capitalize on the labor of convicts sentenced to confinement.


A formal written accusation submitted to the court by a prosecutor, alleging that a specified person has committed a specific offense.


A minor violation of state statute or local ordinance punishable by a fine or other penalty or by a specified, usually limited, term of incarceration.


The basic facilities, services, and installations that a country needs to function. Transportation and communications systems, water and power lines, and institutions that serve the public, including banks, schools, post offices, and prisons, are all part of a country’s infrastructure.

inherent coercion

The tactics used by police interviewers that fall short of physical abuse but that nonetheless pressure suspects to divulge information.

initial appearance

See first appearance.

initial plea

The first plea to a given charge entered in the court record by or for the defendant. The acceptance of an initial plea by the court unambiguously indicates that the arraignment process has been completed. Also called first plea.

insanity defense

A legal defense based on claims of mental illness or mental incapacity.

institutional capacity

The official number of inmates that a confinement or residential facility is or was intended to house.


The first step in decision making regarding a juvenile whose behavior or alleged behavior is in violation of the law or could otherwise cause a juvenile court to assume jurisdiction.

intensive probation supervision (IPS)

A form of probation supervision involving frequent face-to-face contact between the probationer and the probation officer.


The state of mind or attitude with which an act is carried out. Also, the design, resolve, or determination with which a person acts to achieve a certain result.


The interception of drug traffic at the nation’s borders. Interdiction is one of the many strategies used to stem the flow of illegal drugs into the United States.

interdisciplinary theory

An approach that integrates a variety of theoretical viewpoints in an attempt to explain crime and violence.

intermediate appellate court

An appellate court whose primary function is to review the judgments of trial courts and the decisions of administrative agencies and whose decisions are, in turn, usually reviewable by a higher appellate court in the same state.

intermediate sanctions

The use of split sentencing, shock probation or parole, shock incarceration, community service, intensive supervision, or home confinement in lieu of other, more traditional, sanctions, such as imprisonment and fines. Also called alternative sanctions.

internal affairs

The branch of a police organization tasked with investigating charges of wrongdoing involving members of the department.

International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL)

An international law enforcement support organization that began operations in 1946 and today has 181 members.

international terrorism

The unlawful use of force or violence by a group or an individual who has some connection to a foreign power, or whose activities transcend national boundaries, against people or property in order to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.


The information-gathering activity of police officers that involves the direct questioning of suspects.

Islamic law

A system of laws, operative in some Arab countries, based on the Muslim religion and especially the holy book of Islam, the Koran.

25. Identity Theft Resource Center website at Accessed April 4, 2002.

26. Adapted from Entrust, Inc., “Secure Identity Management: Challenges, Needs, and Solutions.” Web posted at, p. 1. Accessed August 5, 2003.

27. Adapted from Web posted at Accessed January 10, 2003.

28. Adapted from Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI Policy and Guidelines: Counterterrorism. Web posted at Accessed March 4, 2002.


A confinement facility administered by an agency of local government, typically a law enforcement agency, intended for adults but sometimes also containing juveniles, which holds people detained pending adjudication or committed after adjudication, usually those sentenced to a year or less.

jail commitment

A sentence of commitment to the jurisdiction of a confinement facility system for adults which is administered by an agency of local government and whose custodial authority is usually limited to people sentenced to a year or less of confinement.


An elected or appointed public official who presides over a court of law and who is authorized to hear and sometimes to decide cases and to conduct trials.


The statement of the decision of a court that the defendant is acquitted or convicted of the offense or offenses charged.

judgment suspending sentence

A court-ordered sentencing alternative that results in the convicted offender being placed on probation.

judicial officer

Any person authorized by statute, constitutional provision, or court rule to exercise the powers reserved to the judicial branch of government.

judicial review

The power of a court to review actions and decisions made by other agencies of government.

jural postulates

Propositions developed by the famous jurist Roscoe Pound that hold that the law reflects shared needs without which members of society could not coexist. Pound’s jural postulates are often linked to the idea that the law can be used to engineer the social structure to ensure certain kinds of outcomes. In capitalist societies, for example, the law of theft protects property rights.


The territory, subject matter, or people over which a court or other justice agency may exercise lawful authority, as determined by statute or constitution. See also venue.


The philosophy of law. Also, the science and study of the law.


A member of a trial or grand jury who has been selected for jury duty and is required to serve as an arbiter of the facts in a court of law. Jurors are expected to render verdicts of “guilty” or “not guilty” as to the charges brought against the accused, although they may sometimes fail to do so (as in the case of a hung jury).

jury panel

The group of people summoned to appear in court as potential jurors for a particular trial. Also, the people selected from the group of potential jurors to sit in the jury box, from which those acceptable to the prosecution and the defense are finally chosen as the jury.

jury selection

The process whereby, according to law and precedent, members of a trial jury are chosen.

just deserts

A model of criminal sentencing that holds that criminal offenders deserve the punishment they receive at the hands of the law and that punishments should be appropriate to the type and severity of the crime committed.


The principle of fairness; the ideal of moral equity.

justice model

A contemporary model of imprisonment based on the principle of just deserts.


A legal defense in which the defendant admits to committing the act in question but claims it was necessary in order to avoid some greater evil.


A person subject to juvenile court proceedings because a statutorily defined event or condition caused by or affecting that person was alleged to have occurred while his or her age was below the statutorily specified age limit of original jurisdiction of a juvenile court.

juvenile court

A court that has, as all or part of its authority, original jurisdiction over matters concerning people statutorily defined as juveniles.

juvenile court judgment

The juvenile court decision, terminating an adjudicatory hearing, that the juvenile is a delinquent, a status offender, or a dependent or that the allegations in the petition are not sustained.

juvenile disposition

The decision of a juvenile court, concluding a dispositional hearing, that an adjudicated juvenile be committed to a juvenile correctional facility; be placed in a juvenile residence, shelter, or care or treatment program; be required to meet certain standards of conduct; or be released.

juvenile justice

The policies and activities of law enforcement and the courts in handling law violations by youths under the age of criminal jurisdiction.

juvenile justice agency

A government agency, or subunit thereof, whose functions are the investigation, supervision, adjudication, care, or confinement of juvenile offenders and nonoffenders subject to the jurisdiction of a juvenile court. Also, in some usages, a private agency providing care and treatment.

juvenile justice system

Government agencies that function to investigate, supervise, adjudicate, care for, or confine youthful offenders and other children subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.

juvenile petition

A document filed in juvenile court alleging that a juvenile is a delinquent, a status offender, or a dependent and asking that the court assume jurisdiction over the juvenile or that an alleged delinquent be transferred to a criminal court for prosecution as an adult.

29. Jeffrey A. Butts and Ojmarrh Mitchell, “Brick by Brick: Dismantling the Border between Juvenile and Adult Justice,” in Phyllis McDonald and Janice Munsterman, eds., Criminal Justice 2000, Vol. 2: Boundary Changes in Criminal Justice Organizations (Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice, 2000), p. 207.

Kansas City experiment

The first large-scale scientific study of law enforcement practices. Sponsored by the Police Foundation, it focused on the practice of preventive patrol.


The transportation or confinement of a person without authority of law and without his or her consent, or without the consent of his or her guardian, if a minor.

Knapp Commission

A committee that investigated police corruption in New York City in the early 1970s.

labeling theory

A social process perspective that sees continued crime as a consequence of the limited opportunities for acceptable behavior that follow from the negative responses of society to those defined as offenders.

landmark case

A precedent-setting court decision that produces substantial changes in both the understanding of the requirements of due process and in the practical day-to-day operations of the justice system.

larceny-theft (UCR)

The unlawful taking or attempted taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property, from the possession or constructive possession of another. Motor vehicles are excluded. Larceny is the most common of the eight major offenses, although probably only a small percentage of all larcenies are actually reported to the police because of the small dollar amounts involved.

latent evidence

Evidence of relevance to a criminal investigation that is not readily seen by the unaided eye.


A rule of conduct, generally found enacted in the form of a statute, that proscribes or mandates certain forms of behavior. Statutory law is often the result of moral enterprise by interest groups that, through the exercise of political power, are successful in seeing their valued perspectives enacted into law.

law enforcement

The generic name for the activities of the agencies responsible for maintaining public order and enforcing the law, particularly the activities of preventing, detecting, and investigating crime and apprehending criminals.

law enforcement agency

A federal, state, or local criminal justice agency or identifiable subunit whose principal functions are the prevention, detection, and investigation of crime and the apprehension of alleged offenders.

Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA)

A now-defunct federal agency established under Title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to funnel federal funding to state and local law enforcement agencies.

law enforcement officer

An officer employed by a law enforcement agency who is sworn to carry out law enforcement duties.


See attorney.

lay witness

An eyewitness, character witness, or other person called on to testify who is not considered an expert. Lay witnesses must testify to facts only and may not draw conclusions or express opinions.

learning organization

“An organization skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights.”30

legal cause

A legally recognizable cause. A legal cause must be demonstrated in court in order to hold an individual criminally liable for causing harm.

legal counsel

See attorney.

legalistic style

A style of policing marked by a strict concern with enforcing the precise letter of the law. Legalistic departments may take a hands-off approach to disruptive or problematic behavior that does not violate the criminal law.


Elimination of the laws and associated criminal penalties that prohibit the production, sale, distribution, and possession of a controlled substance.

less-lethal weapon

A weapon that is designed to disable, capture, or immobilize—but not kill—a suspect. Occasional deaths do result from the use of such weapons, however.

lex talionis

The law of retaliation, often expressed as “an eye for an eye” or “like for like.”

life course perspective

An approach to explaining crime and deviance that investigates developments and turning points in the course of a person’s life over time.

line operations

In police organizations, field activities or supervisory activities directly related to day-to-day police work.

30. David A. Garvin, “Building a Learning Organization,” Harvard Business Review (1993), pp. 78Ð91.


See Cosa Nostra.

major crimes

See Part I offenses.

mala in se

Acts that are regarded, by tradition and convention, as wrong in themselves.

mala prohibita

Acts that are considered wrong only because there is a law against them.


Malicious computer programs like viruses, worms, and Trojan horses.

mandatory sentence

A statutorily required penalty that must be set and carried out in all cases upon conviction for a specified offense or series of offenses.

mandatory sentencing

A structured sentencing scheme that allows no leeway in the nature of the sentence required and under which clearly enumerated punishments are mandated for specific offenses or for habitual offenders convicted of a series of crimes.

maximum sentence

In legal usage, the maximum penalty provided by law for a given criminal offense, usually stated as a maximum term of imprisonment or a maximum fine. Also, in corrections usage in relation to a given offender, any of several quantities (expressed in days, months, or years) which vary according to whether calculated at the point of sentencing or at a later point in the correctional process and according to whether the time period referred to is the term of confinement or the total period under correctional jurisdiction.

mediation committee

One of the civilian dispute-resolution groups found throughout China. Mediation committees successfully divert many minor offenders from the more formal mechanisms of justice.

medical model

A therapeutic perspective on correctional treatment that applies the diagnostic perspective of medical science to the handling of criminal offenders.

mens rea

The state of mind that accompanies a criminal act. Also, a guilty mind.

Miranda rights

The set of rights that a person accused or suspected of having committed a specific offense has during interrogation and of which he or she must be informed prior to questioning, as stated by the U.S. Supreme Court in deciding Miranda v. Arizona (1966) and related cases.

Miranda triggers

The dual principles of custody and interrogation, both of which are necessary before an advisement of rights is required.

Miranda warnings

The advisement of rights due criminal suspects by the police before questioning begins. Miranda warnings were first set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1966 case of Miranda v. Arizona.


An offense punishable by incarceration, usually in a local confinement facility, for a period whose upper limit is prescribed by statute in a given jurisdiction, typically one year or less.


A trial that has been terminated and declared invalid by the court because of some circumstance which created a substantial and uncorrectable prejudice to the conduct of a fair trial or which made it impossible to continue the trial in accordance with prescribed procedures.

mitigating circumstances

Circumstances relating to the commission of a crime that may be considered to reduce the blameworthiness of the defendant. See also aggravating circumstances.

mixed sentence

A sentence that requires that a convicted offender serve weekends (or other specified periods of time) in a confinement facility (usually a jail) while undergoing probationary supervision in the community.

M’Naghten rule

A rule for determining insanity, which asks whether the defendant knew what he or she was doing or whether the defendant knew that what he or she was doing was wrong.

Model Penal Code (MPC)

A generalized modern codification considered basic to criminal law, published by the American Law Institute in 1962.

money laundering

The process by which criminals or criminal organizations seek to disguise the illicit nature of their proceeds by introducing them into the stream of legitimate commerce and finance.31

moral enterprise

The process undertaken by an advocacy group to have its values legitimated and embodied in law.


An oral or written request made to a court at any time before, during, or after court proceedings, asking the court to make a specified finding, decision, or order.


A person’s reason for committing a crime.

motor vehicle theft (UCR)

The theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle. Motor vehicle is defined as a self-propelled road vehicle that runs on land surface and not on rails. The stealing of trains, planes, boats, construction equipment, and most farm machinery is classified as larceny under the UCR Program, not as motor vehicle theft.


The existence within one society of diverse groups that maintain unique cultural identities while frequently accepting and participating in the larger society’s legal and political systems.32 Multiculturalism is often used in conjunction with the term diversity to identify many distinctions of social significance.

municipal police department

A city- or town-based law enforcement agency; also known as local police.


The unlawful killing of a human being. Murder is a generic term that in common usage may include first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and other similar offenses.

murder and nonnegligent manslaughter (UCR)

Intentionally causing the death of another without legal justification or excuse. Also, causing the death of another while committing or attempting to commit another crime.

31. U.S. Department of Treasury, 2000Ð2005 Strategic Plan (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2000), p. 1.

32. Adapted from Robert M. Shusta et al., Multicultural Law Enforcement, 2d ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002), p. 443.


A political alliance between terrorist organizations and drug-supplying cartels. The cartels provide financing for the terrorists, who in turn provide quasi-military protection to the drug dealers.

National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)

An annual survey of selected American households conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics to determine the extent of criminal victimization—especially unreported victimization—in the United States.

National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)

An incident-based reporting system that collects data on every single crime occurrence. NIBRS data will soon supersede the kinds of traditional data provided by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports.

natural law

Rules of conduct inherent in human nature and in the natural order that are thought to be knowable through intuition, inspiration, and the exercise of reason, without the need for reference to created laws.


See National Crime Victimization Survey.

neglected child

A child who is not receiving the proper level of physical or psychological care from his or her parents or guardians or who has been placed up for adoption in violation of the law.


In legal usage, generally, a state of mind accompanying a person’s conduct such that he or she is not aware, though a reasonable person should be aware, that there is a risk that the conduct might cause a particular harmful result.

negligent manslaughter (UCR)

Causing the death of another by recklessness or gross negligence.

neoclassical criminology

A contemporary version of classical criminology that emphasizes deterrence and retribution and that holds that human beings are essentially free to make choices in favor of crime and deviance or conformity.

new police

A police force formed in 1829 under the command of Sir Robert Peel. It became the model for modern-day police forces throughout the Western world. Also called Metropolitan Police Force.

night watch

An early form of police patrol in English cities and towns.

nolle prosequi

A formal entry upon the record of the court indicating that the prosecutor declares that he or she will proceed no further in the action. The terminating of adjudication of a criminal charge by the prosecutor’s decision not to pursue the case requires the approval of the court in some jurisdictions.

nolo contendere

A plea of “no contest.” A no-contest plea is used when the defendant does not wish to contest conviction. Because the plea does not admit guilt, however, it cannot provide the basis for later civil suits that might follow a criminal conviction.

not guilty by reason of insanity

The plea of a defendant or the verdict of a jury or judge in a criminal proceeding that the defendant is not guilty of the offense charged because at the time the crime was committed, the defendant did not have the mental capacity to be held criminally responsible for his or her actions.

nothing-works doctrine

The belief, popularized by Robert Martinson in the 1970s, that correctional treatment programs have had little success in rehabilitating offenders.

no true bill

The decision by a grand jury that it will not return an indictment against the person accused of a crime on the basis of the allegations and evidence presented by the prosecutor.

occupational crime

Any act punishable by law that is committed through opportunity created in the course of a legitimate occupation.


An adult who has been convicted of a criminal offense.


A violation of the criminal law. Also, in some jurisdictions, a minor crime, such as jaywalking, that is sometimes described as ticketable.

offenses known to police (UCR)

Reported occurrences of offenses which have been verified at the police level.

opening statement

The initial statement of the prosecution or the defense, made in a court of law to a judge, or to a judge and jury, describing the facts that he or she intends to present during trial to prove the case.

operational capacity

The number of inmates a prison can effectively accommodate based on management considerations.


The official announcement of a decision of a court, together with the reasons for that decision.

opportunity theory

A perspective that sees delinquency as the result of limited legitimate opportunities for success available to most lower-class youth.

organized crime

The unlawful activities of the members of a highly organized, disciplined association engaged in supplying illegal goods and services, including gambling, prostitution, loan-sharking, narcotics, and labor racketeering, and in other unlawful activities.33

original jurisdiction

The lawful authority of a court to hear or to act on a case from its beginning and to pass judgment on the law and the facts. The authority may be over a specific geographic area or over particular types of cases.

33. The Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. (Public Law 91-451.)

parens patriae

A common law principle that allows the state to assume a parental role and to take custody of a child when he or she becomes delinquent, is abandoned, or is in need of care that the natural parents are unable or unwilling to provide.


The British legislature, the highest law-making body of the United Kingdom.


The status of a convicted offender who has been conditionally released from prison by a paroling authority before the expiration of his or her sentence, is placed under the supervision of a parole agency, and is required to observe the conditions of parole.

parole board

A state paroling authority. Most states have parole boards that decide when an incarcerated offender is ready for conditional release. Some boards also function as revocation hearing panels. Also called parole commission.


A person who has been conditionally released by a paroling authority from a prison prior to the expiration of his or her sentence, is placed under the supervision of a parole agency, and is required to observe conditions of parole.

parole (probation) violation

An act or a failure to act by a parolee (or probationer) that does not conform to the conditions of his or her parole (or probation).

parole revocation

The administrative action of a paroling authority removing a person from parole status in response to a violation of lawfully required conditions of parole, including the prohibition against committing a new offense, and usually resulting in a return to prison.

parole supervision

Guidance, treatment, or regulation of the behavior of a convicted adult who is obligated to fulfill conditions of parole or conditional release. Parole supervision is authorized and required by statute, is performed by a parole agency, and occurs after a period of prison confinement.

parole supervisory caseload

The total number of clients registered with a parole agency or officer on a given date or during a specified time period.

paroling authority

A board or commission which has the authority to release on parole adults committed to prison, to revoke parole or other conditional release, and to discharge from parole or other conditional release status.

Part I offenses

A set of UCR categories used to report murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson, as defined under the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program. Also called major crimes.

Part II offenses

A set of UCR categories used to report arrests for less serious offenses.


See USA PATRIOT Act of 2001.

peacemaking criminology

A perspective that holds that crime-control agencies and the citizens they serve should work together to alleviate social problems and human suffering and thus reduce crime.

Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) program

The official program of a state or legislative jurisdiction that sets standards for the training of law enforcement officers. All states set such standards, although not all use the term POST.

penal code

The written, organized, and compiled form of the criminal laws of a jurisdiction.

penal law

See criminal law.


A prison. See also Pennsylvania system.

Pennsylvania system

A form of imprisonment developed by the Pennsylvania Quakers around 1790 as an alternative to corporal punishments. This style of imprisonment made use of solitary confinement and encouraged rehabilitation.

peremptory challenge

The right to challenge a potential juror without disclosing the reason for the challenge. Prosecutors and defense attorneys routinely use peremptory challenges to eliminate from juries individuals who, although they express no obvious bias, are thought to be capable of swaying the jury in an undesirable direction.


The intentional making of a false statement as part of the testimony by a sworn witness in a judicial proceeding on a matter relevant to the case at hand.


The chief actor in the commission of a crime—that is, the person who directly commits the criminal act.


A written request made to a court asking for the exercise of its judicial powers or asking for permission to perform some act that requires the authorization of a court.

petit jury

See trial jury.

phenomenological criminology

A perspective on crime causation that holds that the significance of criminal behavior is ultimately knowable only to those who participate in it. Central to this school of thought is the belief that social actors endow their behavior with meaning and purpose. Hence, a crime might mean one thing to the person who commits it, quite another to the victim, and something far different still to professional participants in the justice system.


The study of the shape of the head to determine anatomical correlates of human behavior.

physical dependence

A biologically based craving for a specific drug that results from frequent use of the substance. Physical dependence on drugs is marked by a growing tolerance of a drug’s effects, so that increased amounts of the drug are needed to obtain the desired effect, and by the onset of withdrawal symptoms over periods of prolonged abstinence.34 Also called physical addiction.


See software piracy.


A person who initiates a court action.

plain view

A legal term describing the ready visibility of objects that might be seized as evidence during a search by police in the absence of a search warrant specifying the seizure of those objects. To lawfully seize evidence in plain view, officers must have a legal right to be in the viewing area and must have cause to believe that the evidence is somehow associated with criminal activity.


In criminal proceedings, the defendant’s formal answer in court to the charge contained in a complaint, information, or indictment that he or she is guilty of the offense charged, is not guilty of the offense charged, or does not contest the charge.

plea bargaining

The process of negotiating an agreement among the defendant, the prosecutor, and the court as to an appropriate plea and associated sentence in a given case. Plea bargaining circumvents the trial process and dramatically reduces the time required for the resolution of a criminal case.

police-community relations (PCR)

An area of police activity that recognizes the need for the community and the police to work together effectively and that is based on the notion that the police derive their legitimacy from the community they serve. Many police agencies began to explore PCR in the 1960s and 1970s.

police corruption

The abuse of police authority for personal or organizational gain.35

police discretion

The opportunity of law enforcement officers to exercise choice in their daily activities.

police ethics

The special responsibility to adhere to moral duty and obligation that is inherent in police work.

police management

The administrative activities of controlling, directing, and coordinating police personnel, resources, and activities in the service of preventing crime, apprehending criminals, recovering stolen property, and performing regulatory and helping services.36

police professionalism

The increasing formalization of police work and the accompanying rise in public acceptance of the police.

police subculture

A particular set of values, beliefs, and acceptable forms of behavior characteristic of American police. Socialization into the police subculture begins with recruit training and continues thereafter. Also called police culture.

police use of force

The use of physical restraint by a police officer when dealing with a member of the public.37

police working personality

All aspects of the traditional values and patterns of behavior evidenced by police officers who have been effectively socialized into the police subculture. Characteristics of the police personality often extend to the personal lives of law enforcement personnel.

political defense

An innovative defense to a criminal charge that claims that the defendant’s actions stemmed from adherence to a set of political beliefs and standards significantly different from those on which the American style of government is based. A political defense questions the legitimacy and purpose of all criminal proceedings against the defendant.

Positivist School

An approach to criminal justice theory that stresses the application of scientific techniques to the study of crime and criminals.


See Peace Officer Standards and Training.

postconviction remedy

The procedure or set of procedures by which a person who has been convicted of a crime can challenge in court the lawfulness of a judgment of conviction, a penalty, or a correctional agency action and thus obtain relief in situations where this cannot be done by a direct appeal.

postmodern criminology

A branch of criminology that developed after World War II and that builds on the tenets inherent in postmodern social thought.


A legal principle that ensures that previous judicial decisions are authoritatively considered and incorporated into future cases.

preliminary hearing

A proceeding before a judicial officer in which three matters must be decided: (1) whether a crime was committed, (2) whether the crime occurred within the territorial jurisdiction of the court, and (3) whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant committed the crime.

preliminary investigation

All of the activities undertaken by a police officer who responds to the scene of a crime, including determining whether a crime has occurred, securing the crime scene, and preserving evidence.

presentence investigation

The examination of a convicted offender’s background prior to sentencing. Presentence examinations are generally conducted by probation or parole officers and are submitted to sentencing authorities.


Historically, unsolicited written notice of an offense provided to a court by a grand jury from their own knowledge or observation. In current usage, any of several presentations of alleged facts and charges to a court or a grand jury by a prosecutor.

presumptive sentencing

A model of criminal punishment that meets the following conditions: (1) The appropriate sentence for an offender convicted of a specific charge is presumed to fall within a range of sentences authorized by sentencing guidelines that are adopted by a legislatively created sentencing body, usually a sentencing commission. (2) Sentencing judges are expected to sentence within the range or to provide written justification for departure. (3) There is a mechanism for review, usually appellate, of any departure from the guidelines.

pretrial detention

Confinement occurring between the time of arrest or of being held to answer a charge and the conclusion of prosecution.38

pretrial discovery

In criminal proceedings, disclosure by the prosecution or the defense prior to trial of evidence or other information which is intended to be used in the trial.

pretrial release

The release of an accused person from custody, for all or part of the time before or during prosecution, on his or her promise to appear in court when required.


A state or federal confinement facility that has custodial authority over adults sentenced to confinement.

prison argot

The slang characteristic of prison subcultures and prison life.

prison capacity

The size of the correctional population an institution can effectively hold.39 There are three types of prison capacity: rated, operational, and design.

prison commitment

A sentence of commitment to the jurisdiction of a state or federal confinement facility system for adults whose custodial authority extends to offenders sentenced to more than a year of confinement, to a term expressed in years or for life, or to await execution of a death sentence.


A person in physical custody in a state or federal confinement facility or in the personal physical custody of a criminal justice official while being transported to or between confinement facilities.


The process whereby newly institutionalized offenders come to accept prison lifestyles and criminal values. Although many inmates begin their prison experience with only a few values that support criminal behavior, the socialization experience they undergo while incarcerated leads to a much greater acceptance of such values.

prison subculture

The values and behavioral patterns characteristic of prison inmates. Prison subculture has been found to be surprisingly consistent across the country.

private prison

A correctional institution operated by a private firm on behalf of a local or state government.

private protective services

Independent or proprietary commercial organizations that provide protective services to employers on a contractual basis.

private security

Self-employed individuals and privately funded business entities and organizations providing security-related services to specific clientele for a fee, for the individual or entity that retains or employs them, or for themselves, in order to protect people, private property, or interests from various hazards.40

private security agency

See private protective services.


The movement toward the wider use of private prisons.

probable cause

A set of facts and circumstances that would induce a reasonably intelligent and prudent person to believe that a particular other person has committed a specific crime. Also, reasonable grounds to make or believe an accusation. Probable cause refers to the necessary level of belief that would allow for police seizures (arrests) of individuals and full searches of dwel-lings, vehicles, and possessions.


A sentence of imprisonment that is suspended. Also, the conditional freedom granted by a judicial officer to a convicted offender, as long as the person meets certain conditions of behavior.

probation revocation

A court order taking away a convicted offender’s probationary status and usually withdrawing the conditional freedom associated with that status in response to a violation of the conditions of probation.

probation termination

The ending of the probation status of a given person by routine expiration of the probationary period, by special early termination by the court, or by revocation of probation.

probation violation

An act or a failure to act by a probationer that does not conform to the conditions of his or her probation.

probation workload

The total set of activities required to carry out the probation agency functions of intake screening of juvenile cases, referral of cases to other service agencies, investigation of juveniles and adults for the purpose of preparing predisposition or presentence reports, supervision or treatment of juveniles and adults granted probation, assistance in the enforcement of court orders concerning family problems, such as abandonment and nonsupport cases, and other such functions assigned by statute or court order.

problem police officer

A law enforcement officer who exhibits problem behavior, as indicated by high rates of citizen complaints and use-of-force incidents and by other evidence.41

problem-solving policing

A type of policing that assumes that crimes can be controlled by uncovering and effectively addressing the underlying social problems that cause crime. Problem-solving policing makes use of community resources, such as counseling centers, welfare programs, and job-training facilities. It also attempts to involve citizens in crime prevention through education, negotiation, and conflict management. Also called problem-oriented policing.

procedural defense

A defense that claims that the defendant was in some significant way discriminated against in the justice process or that some important aspect of official procedure was not properly followed in the investigation or prosecution of the crime charged.

procedural law

The part of the law that specifies the methods to be used in enforcing substantive law.


An agency in many countries with powers and responsibilities similar to those of a prosecutor’s office in the United States. Also called procuracy.


An organized undertaking characterized by a body of specialized knowledge acquired through extensive education and by a well-considered set of internal standards and ethical guidelines which hold members of the profession accountable to one another and to society.

professional criminal

See career criminal.

property bond

The setting of bail in the form of land, houses, stocks, or other tangible property. In the event that the defendant absconds prior to trial, the bond becomes the property of the court.

property crime

A UCR offense category that includes burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.


A sentencing principle that holds that the severity of sanctions should bear a direct relationship to the seriousness of the crime committed.

prosecution agency

A federal, state, or local criminal justice agency or subunit whose principal function is the prosecution of alleged offenders.


An attorney whose official duty is to conduct criminal proceedings on behalf of the state or the people against those accused of having committed criminal offenses. Also called county attorney; district attorney (DA); state’s attorney; U.S. attorney.

prosecutorial discretion

The decision-making power of prosecutors, based on the wide range of choices available to them, in the handling of criminal defendants, the scheduling of cases for trial, the acceptance of negotiated pleas, and so on. The most important form of prosecutorial discretion lies in the power to charge, or not to charge, a person with an offense.


The act of offering or agreeing to engage in, or engaging in, a sex act with another in return for a fee.

protected computer

Under federal law, (1) a computer used exclusively by a financial institution or the U.S. government, (2) a computer used by or for a financial institution or the U.S. government, or (3) a computer used in interstate or foreign commerce or communication.

psychoactive substance

A chemical substance that affects cognition, feeling, or awareness.


A theory of human behavior, based on the writings of Sigmund Freud, that sees personality as a complex composite of interacting mental entities.

psychological dependence

A craving for a specific drug that results from long-term substance abuse. Psychological dependence on drugs is marked by the belief that drugs are needed to achieve a feeling of well-being.42 Also called psychological addiction.

psychological manipulation

Manipulative actions by police interviewers, designed to pressure suspects to divulge information, that are based on subtle forms of intimidation and control.

psychological profiling

The attempt to categorize, understand, and predict the behavior of certain types of offenders based on behavioral clues they provide.

Psychological School

A perspective on criminological thought that views offensive and deviant behavior as the product of dysfunctional personalities. Psychological thinkers identify the conscious, and especially the subconscious, contents of the human psyche as major determinants of behavior.


A person with a personality disorder, especially one manifested in aggressively antisocial behavior, which is often said to be the result of a poorly developed superego. Also called sociopath.


The study of pathological mental conditions—that is, mental illness.


A form of mental illness in which sufferers are said to be out of touch with reality.

public defender

An attorney employed by a government agency or subagency, or by a private organization under contract to a government body, for the purpose of providing defense services to indigents, or an attorney who has volunteered such service.

public defender agency

A federal, state, or local criminal justice agency or subunit whose principal function is to represent in court people accused or convicted of a crime who are unable to hire private counsel.

public-order advocate

One who believes that under certain circumstances involving a criminal threat to public safety, the interests of society should take precedence over individual rights.

public safety department

A state or local agency that incorporates various law enforcement and emergency service functions.

punitive damages

Damages requested or awarded in a civil lawsuit when the defendant’s willful acts were malicious, violent, oppressive, fraudulent, wanton, or grossly reckless.43 Also called exemplary damages.

34. BJS, Drugs, Crime, and the Justice System, p. 20.

35. Carl B. Klockars et al., The Measurement of Police Integrity, National Institute of Justice Research in Brief (Washington, D.C.: NIJ, 2000), p. 1.

36. This definition draws on the classic work by O. W. Wilson, Police Administration (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1950), pp. 2Ð3.

37. National Institute of Justice, Use of Force by Police: Overview of National and Local Data (Washington, D.C.: NIJ, 1999).

38. National Council on Crime and Delinquency, National Assessment of Structured Sentencing (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1996), p. xii.

39. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 1998 (Washington, D.C.: BJS, 1999), p. 7.

40. Private Security: Report of the Task Force on Private Security (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1976), p. 4.

41. Samuel Walker, Geoffrey P. Albert, and Dennis J. Kenney, Responding to the Problem Police Officer: A National Study of Early Warning Systems (Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice, 2000).

42. BJS, Drugs, Crime, and the Justice System, p. 21.

43. Gerald Hill and Kathleen Hill, The Real Life Dictionary of the Law (Santa Monica, CA: General Publishing Group, 2000). Web posted at Accessed February 21, 2002.

quality-of-life offense

A minor violation of the law (sometimes called a petty crime) that demoralizes community residents and businesspeople. Quality-of-life offenses involve acts that create physical disorder (for example, excessive noise or vandalism) or that reflect social decay (for example, panhandling and prostitution).

racial profiling

“Any police-initiated action that relies on the race, ethnicity, or national origin rather than [1] the behavior of an individual, or [2] . . . information that leads the police to a particular individual who has been identified as being, or having been, engaged in criminal activity.”44


Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) A federal statute that allows for the federal seizure of assets derived from illegal enterprise.

radical criminology

A conflict perspective that sees crime as engendered by the unequal distribution of wealth, power, and other resources, which adherents believe is especially characteristic of capitalist societies. Also called critical criminology; Marxist criminology.


Unlawful sexual intercourse, achieved through force and without consent. Broadly speaking, the term rape has been applied to a wide variety of sexual attacks and may include same-sex rape and the rape of a male by a female. Some jurisdictions refer to same-sex rape as sexual battery. See also forcible rape; sexual battery.

rated capacity

The number of inmates a prison can handle according to the judgment of experts.

rational choice theory

A perspective on crime causation that holds that criminality is the result of conscious choice. Rational choice theory predicts that individuals will choose to commit crime when the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs of disobeying the law.

reaction formation

The process whereby a person openly rejects that which he or she wants or aspires to but cannot obtain or achieve.

real evidence

Evidence that consists of physical material or traces of physical activity.

reasonable doubt

In legal proceedings, an actual and substantial doubt arising from the evidence, from the facts or circumstances shown by the evidence, or from the lack of evidence.45 Also, the state of a case such that, after the comparison and consideration of all the evidence, jurors cannot say they feel an abiding conviction of the truth of the charge.46

reasonable doubt standard

The standard of proof necessary for conviction in criminal trials.

reasonable force

A degree of force that is appropriate in a given situation and is not excessive. Also, the minimum degree of force necessary to protect oneself, one’s property, a third party, or the property of another in the face of a substantial threat.

reasonable suspicion

The level of suspicion that would justify an officer in making further inquiry or in conducting further investigation. Reasonable suspicion may permit stopping a person for questioning or for a simple pat-down search. Also, a belief, based on a consideration of the facts at hand and on reasonable inferences drawn from those facts, that would induce an ordinarily prudent and cautious person under the same circumstances to conclude that criminal activity is taking place or that criminal activity has recently occurred. Reasonable suspicion is a general and reasonable belief that a crime is in progress or has occurred, whereas probable cause is a reasonable belief that a particular person has committed a specific crime. See also probable cause.


The repetition of criminal behavior. In statistical practice, a recidivism rate may be any of a number of possible counts or instances of arrest, conviction, correctional commitment, or correctional status change related to repetitions of these events within a given period of time.


A person who has been convicted of one or more crimes and who is alleged or found to have subsequently committed another crime or series of crimes.

reckless behavior

Activity that increases the risk of harm.

recreational drug user

A person who uses drugs relatively infrequently and primarily with friends and in social contexts that define drug use as pleasurable. Most addicts begin as recreational users.

reformatory style

A late-nineteenth-century correctional model based on the use of the indeterminate sentence and the belief in the possibility of rehabilitation, especially for youthful offenders. The reformatory concept faded with the emergence of industrial prisons around the turn of the century.

regional jail

A jail that is built and run using the combined resources of a variety of local jurisdictions.


The attempt to reform a criminal offender. Also, the state in which a reformed offender is said to be.

release on recognizance (ROR)

The pretrial release of a criminal defendant on his or her written promise to appear in court as required. No cash or property bond is required.


An executive act temporarily suspending the execution of a sentence, usually a death sentence. A reprieve differs from other suspensions of sentence not only in that it almost always applies to the temporary withdrawing of a death sentence, but also in that it is usually an act of clemency intended to provide the prisoner with time to secure amelioration of the sentence.


The use of standardized, systematic procedures in the search for knowledge.


A person required, by official action or by his or her acceptance of placement, to reside in a public or private facility established for purposes of confinement, supervision, or care.

residential commitment

A sentence of commitment to a correctional facility for adults, in which the offender is required to reside at night, but from which he or she is regularly permitted to depart during the day, unaccompanied by any official.

response time

A measure of the time that it takes for police officers to respond to calls for service.


A court requirement that an alleged or convicted offender pay money or provide services to the victim of the crime or provide services to the community.


A goal of criminal sentencing that attempts to make the victim “whole again.”

restorative justice

A sentencing model that builds on restitution and community participation in an attempt to make the victim “whole again.”


The act of taking revenge on a criminal perpetrator.

revocation hearing

A hearing held before a legally constituted hearing body (such as a parole board) to determine whether a parolee or probationer has violated the conditions and requirements of his or her parole or probation.

rights of defendant

The powers and privileges that are constitutionally guaranteed to every defendant.

robbery (UCR)

The unlawful taking or attempted taking of property that is in the immediate possession of another by force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear. Armed robbery differs from unarmed, or strong-arm, robbery with regard to the presence of a weapon. Contrary to popular conceptions, highway robbery does not necessarily occur on a street—and rarely in a vehicle. The term highway robbery applies to any form of robbery that occurs outdoors in a public place.

routine activities theory

A neoclassical perspective that suggests that lifestyles contribute significantly to both the volume and the type of crime found in any society.

rule of law

The maxim that an orderly society must be governed by established principles and known codes that are applied uniformly and fairly to all of its members.

rules of evidence

Court rules that govern the admissibility of evidence at criminal hearings and trials.


A juvenile who has been adjudicated by a judicial officer of juvenile court as having committed the status offense of leaving the custody and home of his or her parents, guardians, or custodians without permission and of failing to return within a reasonable length of time.

44. Deborah Ramierz, Jack McDevitt, and Amy Farrell, A Resource Guide on Racial Profiling Data Collection Systems: Promising Practices and Lessons Learned (Washington, D.C.: Department of Justice, 2000), p. 3.

45. Victor V. Nebraska, 114 S.Ct. 1239, 127 L.Ed.2d 583 (1994).

46. As found in the California jury instructions.


A mentally ill individual who suffers from disjointed thinking and possibly from delusions and hallucinations.

scientific jury selection

The use of correlational techniques from the social sciences to gauge the likelihood that potential jurors will vote for conviction or for acquittal.

scientific police management

The application of social science techniques to the study of police administration for the purpose of increasing effectiveness, reducing the frequency of citizen complaints, and enhancing the efficient use of available resources.

search incident to an arrest

A warrantless search of an arrested individual conducted to ensure the safety of the arresting officer. Because individuals placed under arrest may be in possession of weapons, courts have recognized the need for arresting officers to protect themselves by conducting an immediate search of arrestees without obtaining a warrant.

search warrant

A document issued by a judicial officer which directs a law enforcement officer to conduct a search at a specific location, for specified property or person relating to a crime, to seize the property or person if found, and to account for the results of the search to the issuing judicial officer.


The restriction of inmate movement within a correctional facility, usually divided into maximum, medium, and minimum levels.


The protection of oneself or of one’s property from unlawful injury or from the immediate risk of unlawful injury. Also, the justification that the person who committed an act that would otherwise constitute an offense reasonably believed that the act was necessary to protect self or property from immediate danger.


1. The penalty imposed by a court upon a person convicted of a crime. 2. The court judgment specifying the penalty imposed upon a person convicted of a crime. 3. Any disposition of a defendant resulting from a conviction, including the court decision to suspend execution of a sentence.


The imposition of a criminal sanction by a judicial authority.

sentencing disposition

1. A court disposition of a defendant after a judgment of conviction, expressed as a penalty, such as imprisonment or payment of a fine. 2. Any of a number of alternatives to actually executed penalties, such as a suspended sentence, a grant of probation, or an order to perform restitution. 3. Various combinations of the foregoing.

sentencing hearing

In criminal proceedings, a hearing during which the court or jury considers relevant information, such as evidence concerning aggravating or mitigating circumstances, for the purpose of determining a sentencing disposition for a person convicted of an offense.

sequestered jury

A jury that is isolated from the public during the course of a trial and throughout the deliberation process.

service style

A style of policing marked by a concern with helping rather than strict enforcement. Service-oriented police agencies are more likely to take advantage of community resources, such as drug-treatment programs, than are other types of agencies.

sexual battery

Intentional and wrongful physical contact with a person, without his or her consent, that entails a sexual component or purpose.

sex offense

In current statistical usage, any of a broad category of varying offenses, usually consisting of all offenses having a sexual element, except forcible rape and commercial sex offenses. The category includes all unlawful sexual intercourse, unlawful sexual contact, and other unlawful behavior intended to result in sexual gratification or profit from sexual activity.

sex offense (UCR)

Any of various “offenses against chastity, common decency, morals, and the like,” except forcible rape, prostitution, and commercialized vice.


The elected chief officer of a county law enforcement agency. The sheriff is usually responsible for law enforcement in unincorporated areas and for the operation of the county jail.

sheriff’s department

A local law enforcement agency, directed by a sheriff, which exercises its law enforcement functions at the county level, usually within unincorporated areas, and which operates the county jail in most jurisdictions.

shock incarceration

A sentencing option that makes use of “boot camp”–type prisons to impress on convicted offenders the realities of prison life.

shock probation

The practice of sentencing offenders to prison, allowing them to apply for probationary release, and enacting such release in surprise fashion. Offenders who receive shock probation may not be aware that they will be released on probation and may expect to spend a much longer time behind bars.

simple assault (UCR)

The unlawful threatening, attempted inflicting, or inflicting of less-than-serious bodily injury, without a deadly weapon.

smart card

A plastic card or similar device, containing a computer chip and other sources of nonalterable information (such as a hologram or a laser-encoded memory strip), that is used to provide highly secure personal identification.


The unlawful movement of goods across a national frontier or state boundary or into or out of a correctional facility.

“sneak and peek” search

A search that occurs in the suspect’s absence and without his or her prior knowledge.

social control

The use of sanctions and rewards within a group to influence and shape the behavior of individual members of that group. Social control is a primary concern of social groups and communities, and it is their interest in the exercise of social control that leads to the creation of both criminal and civil statutes.

social debt

A sentencing principle that holds that an offender’s criminal history should objectively be taken into account in sentencing decisions.

social development theory

An integrated view of human development that points to the process of interaction among and between individuals and society as the root cause of criminal behavior.

social disorganization

A condition said to exist when a group is faced with social change, uneven development of culture, maladaptiveness, disharmony, conflict, and lack of consensus.

social ecology

A criminological approach that focuses on the misbehavior of lower-class youth and sees delinquency primarily as the result of social disorganization.

social justice

An ideal that embraces all aspects of civilized life and that is linked to fundamental notions of fairness and to cultural beliefs about right and wrong.

social learning theory

A psychological perspective that says that people learn how to behave by modeling themselves after others whom they have the opportunity to observe.

social order

The condition of a society characterized by social integration, consensus, smooth functioning, and lack of interpersonal and institutional conflict. Also, a lack of social disorganization.

social process theory

A perspective on criminological thought that highlights the process of interaction between individuals and society. Most social process theories highlight the role of social learning.

social-psychological theory

A perspective on criminological thought that highlights the role played in crime causation by weakened self-esteem and meaningless social roles. Social-psychological thinkers stress the relationship of the individual to the social group as the underlying cause of behavior.


See psychopath.

software piracy

The unauthorized duplication of software or the illegal transfer of data from one storage medium to another. Software piracy is one of the most prevalent computer crimes in the world.

solvability factor

Information about a crime that forms the basis for determining the perpetrator’s identity.


The classification of human beings into types according to body build and other physical characteristics.

span of control

The number of police personnel or the number of units supervised by a particular commander.

specific deterrence

A goal of criminal sentencing that seeks to prevent a particular offender from engaging in repeat criminality.

speedy trial

A trial which is held in a timely manner. The right of a defendant to have a prompt trial is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which begins, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.”

Speedy Trial Act

A 1974 federal law requiring that proceedings against a defendant in a criminal case begin within a specified period of time, such as 70 working days after indictment. Some states also have speedy trial requirements.

split sentence

A sentence explicitly requiring the convicted offender to serve a period of confinement in a local, state, or federal facility, followed by a period of probation.

staff operations

In police organizations, activities (like administration and training) that provide support for line operations.


Repeated harassing and threatening behavior by one individual against another, aspects of which may be planned or carried out in secret. Stalking might involve following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property. Most stalking laws require that the perpetrator make a credible threat of violence against the victim or members of the victim’s immediate family.

stare decisis

A legal principle that requires that in subsequent cases on similar issues of law and fact, courts be bound by their own earlier decisions and by those of higher courts having jurisdiction over them. The term literally means “standing by decided matters.”

state-action doctrine

The traditional legal principle that only government officials or their representatives in the criminal justice process can be held accountable for the violation of an individual’s constitutional civil rights.

state court administrator

A coordinator who assists with case-flow management, operating funds budgeting, and court docket administration.

state court system

A state judicial structure. Most states have at least three court levels: generally, trial courts, appellate courts, and a state supreme court.

state highway patrol

A state law enforcement agency whose principal functions are preventing, detecting, and investigating motor vehicle offenses and apprehending traffic offenders.

state police

A state law enforcement agency whose principal functions usually include maintaining statewide police communications, aiding local police in criminal investigations, training police, and guarding state property. The state police may include the highway patrol.

state-use system

A form of inmate labor in which items produced by inmates may only be sold by or to state offices. Items that only the state can sell include such things as license plates and hunting licenses, while items sold only to state offices include furniture and cleaning supplies.

status offender

A child who commits an act that is contrary to the law by virtue of the offender’s status as a child. Purchasing cigarettes, buying alcohol, and being truant are examples of such behavior.

status offense

An act or conduct that is declared by statute to be an offense, but only when committed by or engaged in by a juvenile, and that can be adjudicated only by a juvenile court.

Statute of Winchester

A law, written in 1285, that created a watch and ward system in English cities and towns and that codified early police practices.

statutory law

Written or codified law; the “law on the books,” as enacted by a government body or agency having the power to make laws.

statutory rape

Sexual intercourse with a person who is under the legal age of consent.

stay of execution

The stopping by a court of the implementation of a judgment—that is, of a court order previously issued.

stolen property offense

The unlawful receiving, buying, distributing, selling, transporting, concealing, or possessing of the property of another by a person who knows that the property has been unlawfully obtained from the owner or other lawful possessor.

stop and frisk

The detaining of a person by a law enforcement officer for the purpose of investigation, accompanied by a superficial examination by the officer of the person’s body surface or clothing to discover weapons, contraband, or other objects relating to criminal activity.

stranger violence

Seemingly random violence perpetrated by assailants who were previously unknown to their victims. Stranger violence often results from rage, opportunity, or insanity.

strategic policing

A type of policing that retains the traditional police goal of professional crime fighting but enlarges the enforcement target to include nontraditional kinds of criminals, such as serial offenders, gangs and criminal associations, drug-distribution networks, and sophisticated white-collar and computer criminals. Strategic policing generally makes use of innovative enforcement techniques, including intelligence operations, undercover stings, electronic surveillance, and sophisticated forensic methods.

street crime

A class of offenses, sometimes defined with some degree of formality as those which occur in public locations and are visible and assaultive, that are a special risk to the public and a special target of law enforcement preventive efforts and prosecutorial attention.

strict liability

Liability without fault or intention. Strict liability offenses do not require mens rea.

structured sentencing

A model of criminal punishment that includes determinate and commission-created presumptive sentencing schemes, as well as voluntary/advisory sentencing guidelines.

subculture of violence

A cultural setting in which violence is a traditional and often accepted method of dispute resolution.


A written order issued by a judicial officer or grand jury requiring an individual to appear in court and to give testimony or to bring material to be used as evidence. Some subpoenas mandate that books, papers, and other items be surrendered to the court.

substantive criminal law

The part of the law that defines crimes and specifies punishments.


A human male displaying the XYY chromosome structure.


A juvenile who is coming of age in actual and “moral poverty” without the benefits of parents, teachers, coaches, and clergy to teach right from wrong47 and who turns to criminal activity. The term is often applied to inner-city youths, socialized in violent settings without the benefit of wholesome life experiences, who hold considerable potential for violence.

supervised probation

Guidance, treatment, or regulation by a probation agency of the behavior of a person who is subject to adjudication or who has been convicted of an offense, resulting from a formal court order or a probation agency decision.


An adult or a juvenile who has not been arrested or charged but whom a criminal justice agency believes may be the person responsible for a specific criminal offense.

suspended sentence

The court decision to delay imposing or executing a penalty for a specified or unspecified period. Also, a court disposition of a convicted person pronouncing a penalty of a fine or a commitment to confinement but unconditionally discharging the defendant or holding execution of the penalty in abeyance upon good behavior. Also called sentence withheld.

suspicionless search

A search conducted by law enforcement personnel without a warrant and without suspicion. Suspicionless searches are permissible only if based on an overriding concern for public safety.

sworn officer

A law enforcement officer who is trained and empowered to perform full police duties, such as making arrests, conducting investigations, and carrying firearms.48

47. The term superpredator is generally attributed to John J. DiIulio, Jr. See John J. DiIulio, Jr., “The Question of Black Crime,” Public Interest (fall 1994), pp. 3-12.

48. Adapted from Darl H. Champion and Michael K. Hooper, Introduction to American Policing (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003), p. 166.

Tazir crime

A minor violation of Islamic law that is regarded as an offense against society, not God.

team policing

The reorganization of conventional patrol strategies into “an integrated and versatile police team assigned to a fixed district.”49


A criminal offense that employs advanced or emerging technology in its commission.

teen court

An alternative approach to juvenile justice in which alleged offenders are judged and sentenced by a jury of their peers.


A standard developed by the U.S. government that requires that electromagnetic emanations from computers designated as “secure” be below levels that would allow radio receiving equipment to “read” the data being computed.


A violent act or an act dangerous to human life in violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state committed to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.50


Oral evidence offered by a sworn witness on the witness stand during a criminal trial.


Generally, any taking of the property of another with intent to deprive the rightful owner of possession permanently.


A set of interrelated propositions that attempt to describe, explain, predict, and ultimately control some class of events. A theory gains explanatory power from inherent logical consistency and is “tested” by how well it describes and predicts reality.

three-strikes laws

Statutes that require mandatory sentences (sometimes life in prison without the possibility of parole) for offenders convicted of a third felony. Such mandatory sentencing enhancements are aimed at deterring known and potentially violent offenders and are intended to incapacitate convicted criminals through long-term incarceration.


A wrongful act, damage, or injury not involving a breach of contract. Also, a private or civil wrong or injury.

total institution

An enclosed facility, separated from society both socially and physically, where the inhabitants share all aspects of their lives daily.

transfer to adult court

The decision by a juvenile court, resulting from a transfer hearing, that jurisdiction over an alleged delinquent will be waived and that he or she should be prosecuted as an adult in a criminal court.

transnational crime

Unlawful activity undertaken and supported by organized criminal groups operating across national boundaries.


A U.S. citizen’s actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the United States.51 Also, the attempt to overthrow the government of the society of which one is a member.


In criminal proceedings, the examination in court of the issues of fact and relevant law in a case for the purpose of convicting or acquitting the defendant.

trial de novo

Literally, “new trial.” The term is applied to cases that are retried on appeal, as opposed to those that are simply reviewed on the record.

trial judge

A judicial officer who is authorized to conduct jury and nonjury trials but who may not be authorized to hear appellate cases. Also, the judicial officer who conducts a particular trial.

trial jury

A statutorily defined number of people selected according to law and sworn to determine, in accordance with the law as instructed by the court, certain matters of fact based on evidence presented in a trial and to render a verdict. Also called petit jury.

truth in sentencing

A close correspondence between the sentence imposed on an offender and the time actually served in prison.52

49. Sam S. Souryal, Police Administration and Management (St. Paul, MN: West, 1977), p. 261.

50. Federal Bureau of Intelligence, Counterterrorism Section, Terrorism in the United States, 1987 (Washington, D.C.: FBI, 1987).

51. Daniel Oran, Oran’s Dictionary of the Law (St. Paul, MN: West, 1983), p. 306.

52. Lawrence A. Greenfeld, “Prison Sentences and Time Served for Violence,” Bureau of Justice Statistics Selected Findings, No. 4 (April 1995).


See Uniform Crime Reports (UCR).

unconditional release

The final release of an offender from the jurisdiction of a correctional agency. Also, a final release from the jurisdiction of a court.

undisciplined child

A child who is beyond parental control, as evidenced by his or her refusal to obey legitimate authorities, such as school officials and teachers.

Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)

An annual FBI publication that summarizes the incidence and rate of reported crimes throughout the United States.

USA PATRIOT Act of 2001

A federal law (Public Law 107-56) enacted in response to terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. The law, officially titled the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act, substantially broadened the investigative authority of law enforcement agencies throughout America and is applicable to many crimes other than terrorism.

use of force

See police use of force.

vagrancy (UCR)

An offense related to being a suspicious person, including vagrancy, begging, loitering, and vagabondage.

vandalism (UCR)

The destroying or damaging, or attempting to destroy or damage, public property or the property of another without the owner’s consent. This definition of vandalism does not include burning.


The particular geographic area in which a court may hear or try a case. Also, the locality within which a particular crime was committed. See also jurisdiction.


The decision of the jury in a jury trial or of a judicial officer in a nonjury trial.


A person who has suffered death, physical or mental anguish, or loss of property as the result of an actual or attempted criminal offense committed by another person.

victim-assistance program

An organized program that offers services to victims of crime in the areas of crisis intervention and follow-up counseling and that helps victims secure their rights under the law.

victim-impact statement

The in-court use of victim- or survivor-supplied information by sentencing authorities seeking to make an informed sentencing decision.


In National Crime Victimization Survey terminology, the harming of any single victim in a criminal incident.


The scientific study of crime victims and the victimization process. Victimology is a subfield of criminology.


The act of taking the law into one’s own hands.


1. The performance of an act forbidden by a statute, or the failure to perform an act commanded by a statute. 2. An act contrary to a local government ordinance. 3. An offense punishable by a fine or other penalty but not by incarceration. 4. An act prohibited by the terms and conditions of probation or parole.

violent crime

A UCR offense category that includes murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.

voluntary/advisory sentencing guidelines

Recommended sentencing policies that are not required by law.


The official in charge of the operation of a prison, the chief administrator of a prison, or the prison superintendent.


An imprisonment strategy that is based on the desire to prevent recurrent crime and that has abandoned all hope of rehabilitation.


In criminal proceedings, a writ issued by a judicial officer directing a law enforcement officer to perform a specified act and affording the officer protection from damages if he or she performs it.

watchman style

A style of policing marked by a concern for order maintenance. Watchman policing is characteristic of lower-class communities where police intervene informally into the lives of residents to keep the peace.

weapon of mass destruction (WMD)

A chemical, biological, and nuclear weapon that has the potential to cause mass casualties.

weapons offense

The unlawful sale, distribution, manufacture, alteration, transportation, possession, or use, or the attempted unlawful sale, distribution, manufacture, alteration, transportation, possession, or use, of a deadly or dangerous weapon or accessory.

white-collar crime

Violations of the criminal law committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his or her occupation. Also, nonviolent crime for financial gain utilizing deception and committed by anyone who has special technical and professional knowledge of business and government, irrespective of the person’s occupation.

Wickersham Commission

The National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement. In 1931, the commission issued a report stating that Prohibition was unenforceable and carried a great potential for police corruption.


Generally, a person who has knowledge of the circumstances of a case. Also, in court usage, one who testifies as to what he or she has seen, heard, or otherwise observed or who has expert knowledge.


An early form of imprisonment whose purpose it was to instill habits of industry in the idle. Also called bridewell.

work release

A prison program through which inmates are temporarily released into the community to meet job responsibilities.


A document issued by a judicial officer ordering or forbidding the performance of a specified act.

writ of certiorari

A writ issued from an appellate court for the purpose of obtaining from a lower court the record of its proceedings in a particular case. In some states, this writ is the mechanism for discretionary review. A request for review is made by petitioning for a writ of certiorari, and the granting of review is indicated by the issuance of the writ.

writ of habeas corpus

A writ that directs the person detaining a prisoner to bring him or her before a judicial officer to determine the lawfulness of the imprisonment.

youthful offender

A person, adjudicated in criminal court, who may be above the statutory age limit for juvniles but is below a specified upper age limit, for whom special correctional commitments and special record-sealing procedures are made available by statute.

youthful offender

A person, adjudicated in criminal court, who may be above the statutory age limit for juvniles but is below a specified upper age limit, for whom special correctional commitments and special record-sealing procedures are made available by statute.

youthful offender

A person, adjudicated in criminal court, who may be above the statutory age limit for juvniles but is below a specified upper age limit, for whom special correctional commitments and special record-sealing procedures are made available by statute.