Criminal Justice Midterm (Chapters 1-7)

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 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


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

individual rights

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

individual-rights advocate

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

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.


The principle of fairness; the ideal of moral equity.

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.

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. This term cannot be separated from social justice because the justice enacted in our nation's civil

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. This term cannot be separated from social justice because the justice enacte

administration of justice

The performance of any of the following activities: detection, apprehension, detention, pretrial release, post-trial release, prosecution, adjudication, correctional supervision, or rehabilitation of accused persons or criminal offenders.

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.

consensus model

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

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 resul

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 individu

crime-control model

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

due-process model

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

social control

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

evidence-based practice

Crime-fighting strategies that have been scientifically tested and that are based on social science research.


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


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. This term is often used in conjunction with the term "diversity

Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program

A statistical reporting program run by the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) division. This program publishes "Crime in the United States", which provides an annual summation of the incidence and rate of reported crimes throughout the Uni

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.

Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)

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

Crime Index

A now-defunct but once-inclusive measure of the UCR Program's violent and property crime categories, of what are called "Part I Offenses". The Crime Index, long featured in the FBI's publication "Crime in the United States", was discontinued in 2004. The

National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS)

An incident-based reporting system that collects detailed data on every single crime occurrence. NIBRS data are replacing the kinds of summary data that have traditionally been provided by the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program.

violent crime

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

property crime

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

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).


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

Part I offenses

A UCR/NIBRS offense group used to report murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson, as defined under the FBI's UCR/NIBRS Program.


The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim. Broadly speaking, the term has been applied to a wide variety of sexual att

forcible rape (UCR/NIBRS)

The carnal knowledge of a person, forcibly and against their will. More specifically, penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the v

sexual battery

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

date rape

The unlawful forced sexual intercourse with a female against her will that occurs within the context of a dating relationship. This type of rape, of acquaintance rape, is a subcategory of rape that is of special concern today.

robbery (UCR/NIBRS)

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 in that it involves a weapon. Contrary

assault (UCR/NIBRS)

An unlawful attack by one person upon another. Historically, this term 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 comple

aggravated assault

The unlawful, intentional inflicting, or attempted or threatened inflicting, of serious injury upon the person of another. Although this term and simple assault are standard terms for reporting purposes, most state penal codes use labels like first-degree

burglary (UCR/NIBRS)

The unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or a theft (excludes tents, trailers, and other mobile units used for recreational purposes). Under the UCR/NIBRS Program, the crime of burglary can be reported if 1) an unlawful entry of an unlocked st

larceny-theft (UCR/NIBRS)

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

identity theft

A crime in which an impostor 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

motor vehicle theft (UCR/NIBRS)

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 a

arson (UCR/NIBRS)

Any willful or malicious burning or attempt to burn, with or without intent to defraud, a dwelling house, public building, motor vehicle or aircraft, personal property of another, and so on. Some instances of arson result from malicious mischief, some inv

Part II offenses

A UCR/NIBRS offense group used to report arrests for less serious offenses. Agencies are limited to reporting only arrest information for Part II offenses, with the exception of simple assault.

dark figure of crime

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

crime typology

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


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 c


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

hate crime (UCR/NIBRS)

A criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.

corporate crime

A violation of 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.

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 or profess

organized crime

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

transnational organized crime

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

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".


Malicious computer programs such as viruses, worms, and Trojan horses.

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.


Unsolicited commercial bulk e-mail whose primary purpose is the advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.


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 o

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.

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 populatio


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

transnational offenses

Unlawful activity that occurs across national boundaries.


A rule of conduct, generally found enacted in the form of a statute, the proscribes or mandates certain forms of behavior.

statutory law

The written or codified law; "the law on the books", as enacted by a government body or agency having the power to make laws.

penal code

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

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.

common law

The body of 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 h

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.


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

criminal law

The body of rules and regulation that define and specify the nature of and punishments for offenses of a public nature or for wrongs committed against the state or society. Also called "penal law".

substantive criminal law

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

procedural law

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

civil law

The branch of modern law that governs relationships between parties.


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


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

stare decisis

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


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


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


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


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.


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


The "gathering, transmitting, or losing" 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.

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.

actus reus

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

mens rea

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

reckless behavior

An activity that increases the risk of harm.

criminal negligence

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


A person's reason for committing a crime.

strict liability

A liability without fault or intention. These kinds of offenses do not require mens rea.


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

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.

ex post facto

Latin for "after the fact". The Constitution prohibits the enactment of these laws, which make acts committed before the laws in question were passed punishable as crimes.

attendant circumstances

The facts surrounding an event.

element (of a crime)

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

corpus delicti

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

defense (to a criminal charge)

The 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.


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.


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 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.

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.

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.

Hudud crime

A serious violation of Islamic law that is regarded as an offense against God.

Tazir crime

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


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

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.

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 legally act on his or her own behalf.

insanity defense

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

M'Naghten rule

A rule for determining insanity that 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.

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.

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.

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


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

double jeopardy

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

crime prevention

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


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

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 and vandalism) or that reflect soci

broken windows

A model of policing based on the notion that physical decay, such as litter and abandoned buildings, can breed disorder in a community and can lead to crime by signaling that laws are not being enforced. The broken windows thesis suggests that by encourag

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.

municipal police department

A city or town-based law enforcement agency.


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.

fusion center

A multiagency law enforcement facility designed to enhance cooperative efforts through a coordinated process for collecting, sharing, and analyzing information in order to develop actionable intelligence.

private protective services

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

International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol)

An international law enforcement support organization that began operations in 1946 and today has 182 member nations.

European Police Office (Europol)

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

police management

The administrative activities of controlling, directing, and coordinating police personnel, resources, and activities in the service of crime prevention, the apprehension of criminals, the recovery of stolen property, and the performance of a variety of r

line operations

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

staff operations

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

chain of command

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

span of control

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

watchman style

A style of policing marked by a concern for order maintenance. Watchman policing is characteristic of lower-class communities where informal police intervention into the lives of residents is employed in the service of keeping the peace.

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.

service style

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

police-community relations (PCR)

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

team policing

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

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 netwo

problem-solving policing

A type of policing that assumes that many crimes are caused by existing social conditions within the community and that crimes can be controlled by uncovering and effectively addressing underlying social problems. Problem-solving policing makes use of com

community policing

A philosophy that promotes organizational strategies, which support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques, to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to the public safety issues such as crime, social disorde

Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA)

A now-defunct federal agency established under Title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1969 to funnel federal funding to state and local law enforcement agencies.

scientific police management

The application of social sciences 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.

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.

evidence-based policing (EBP)

The use of the best available research on the outcomes of police work to implement guidelines and evaluate agencies, units, and officers.

police discretion

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

directed patrol

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

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.

landmark case

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


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.

illegally seized evidence

Any 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.

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.

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

fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine

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

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 mistak

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 th

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 these objects. To lawfully seize evidence in plain view, officers must have a l

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.

anticipatory warrant

A search warrant issued on the basis of probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime, while not currently at the place described, will likely be there when the warrant is executed.


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 a

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 b

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 considerat

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

compelling interest

A legal concept that provides a basis for suspicionless searches when public safety is at issue. In two cases, the U.S. Supreme Court held that public safety may sometimes provide a sufficiently compelling interest to justify limiting an individual's righ

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.


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

inherent coercion

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

psychological manipulation

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

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 Miranda vs. Arizona.

Miranda triggers

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

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.


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 Interc

sneak and peek" search

A search that occurs in the suspect's absence and without his or her prior knowledge. Also known as a delayed-notification search.

electronic evidence

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

latent evidence

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

digital criminal forensics

The lawful seizure, acquisition, analysis, reporting, and safeguarding of data from digital devices that may contain information of evidentiary value to the trier of fact in criminal events.

police subculture

A particular set of values, beliefs, and acceptable forms of behavior characteristic of American police with which the police profession strives to imbue new recruits. Socialization into the police subculture commences with recruit training and continues

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 pe

Knapp Commission

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

internal affairs

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

biological weapon

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

intelligence-led policing (ILP)

The collection and analysis of information to produce an intelligence end product designed to inform police decision-making at both the tactical and strategic levels.

criminal intelligence

The information compiled, analyzed, and/or disseminated in an effort to anticipate, prevent, or monitor criminal activity.


An acronym referring to the International Justice and Public Safety Information Sharing Network, an important law enforcement information-sharing resource.

civil liability

The 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".

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.

Bivens action

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

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) on information the leads the police to a particular individual who has been identified as being, or having been, engaged

police use of force

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

excessive force

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

deadly force

The 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".

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.

police professionalism

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

police ethics

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

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.

federal court system

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

state court system

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


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

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.

appellate jurisdiction

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

trial de novo

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

court of last resort

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


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.

state court administrator

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

dispute-resolution center

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

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 such as community service and restitution.

judicial review

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

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 pr


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

pretrial release

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

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. The bail bond is signed by the person to be released and by anyone else acting o

release on recognizance (ROR)

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

property bond

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

danger law

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

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 th

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
3) whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the defe


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

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 ratio


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 so


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.

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.

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