- ABADirect link to this item
American Bar Association
- AcquittalDirect link to this item
When an accused criminal defendant is found not guilty at trial.
- AdjudicationDirect link to this item
When a court makes an order or judgment in a case.
- AppealDirect link to this item
A defendant can appeal their conviction to a higher court. They must file the appeal within a certain amount of time after conviction, as required by state law.
- AppearanceDirect link to this item
A scheduled court hearing to which the defendant appeared or showed up.
- ArraignmentDirect link to this item
After an arrest is made and charges have been filed by the prosecutor, the defendant is expected to appear in court to have their charges read to them. This is also the time in which they enter their plea and bail is either set or reserved for a later time at request of the defense.
- ArrestDirect link to this item
When law enforcement takes an individual into custody upon suspicion of committing a crime or pursuant to a warrant.
- Arrest WarrantDirect link to this item
An arrest warrant is a legal document issued by a judge or a magistrate authorizing law enforcement to take an individual into custody for criminal investigation.
- Attorney WithdrawalDirect link to this item
An attorney terminates representation of their client, whether voluntarily or under circumstances that require it.
- AverageDirect link to this item
A number expressing the typical value in a set of data, which is calculated by dividing the sum of all the values in the set by the total number of values.
- BailDirect link to this item
Money or bond pledged to the court in return for the release of a defendant from custody, with the understanding that the individual will return to court for trial.
- Bench TrialDirect link to this item
In a bench trial there is no jury. The judge makes the determination of guilt and decides on the appropriate sentence or punishment.
- Bench Warrant - Failure to AppearDirect link to this item
When a defendant fails to show up to a scheduled court appearance, the judge or magistrate can issue a bench warrant authorizing law enforcement to take an individual into custody.
- Beyond a Reasonable DoubtDirect link to this item
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt means that a defendant may only be convicted if there is no reasonable possibility, based on the evidence, that they are not guilty of the crime.
- BondDirect link to this item
A portion of bail paid by a defendant, or a bail bondsman, or other contractor on the defendant's behalf. Typically, the defendant must offer a certain percentage of bail in cash and the rest in some form of collateral. The defendant or representative is responsible to pay the remainder of the bail if the defendant fails to appear for their court dates.
- Bond MotionDirect link to this item
A motion to allow a defendant out on bond or reduce the existing amount.
- CaseDirect link to this item
In order to have a standard definition across states, we consider all charges associated with the same defendant that were filed in court on the same date as a single case. We assume that when a prosecutor files multiple charges together, even for different incidents, they intend to resolve these charges at the same time. For cases that didn't pass review and are not pursued in court, we use the date when the prosecutor's office received the case.
- Case DismissalDirect link to this item
When certain criteria are met, a case can be dismissed by a judge or withdrawn (also known as nolle prosequi) by a prosecutor. This ends the case and the defendant is free to go.
- Case DispositionDirect link to this item
The final judgment or decision by the court that closes the case.
- Case FilingDirect link to this item
Criminal proceedings are initiated if and when the prosecutor decides to file a case with the court.
- Case Management SystemDirect link to this item
Case Management Systems are software solutions that help agencies track and store case information in a centralized location.
- Clearance RateDirect link to this item
Number of crimes "cleared" (solved) divided by the total number of crimes recorded.
- ContinuanceDirect link to this item
A continuance or adjournment takes place when the prosecution or defense (or both) request that the proceedings in a criminal case be postponed or continued at a later time.
- ConvictionDirect link to this item
A person is found guilty at trial or pleads guilty or "no contest" to the charge.
- CountyDirect link to this item
We measure criminal justice performance at the county level because it is usually at this level that charging, disposition, and sentencing decisions are made.
- Court-Appointed Private AttorneyDirect link to this item
In lieu of public defenders, some states may contract with private attorneys to provide counsel for defendants unable to afford an attorney on their own.
- Criminal ChargesDirect link to this item
A criminal charge is a formal accusation made by a prosecutor or, in some jurisdictions, the police alleging that someone has committed a criminal offense defined by the penal code.
- CriminogenicDirect link to this item
Factors likely to cause or predict criminal behavior.
- DeclinationDirect link to this item
A case that was referred for prosecution by law enforcement but was not filed in court by prosecutors.
- DecriminalizationDirect link to this item
The act of reducing and/or completely removing criminal penalties for certain acts; not to be confused with legalization.
- Deferred ProsecutionDirect link to this item
An agreement between the prosecutor and defendant to dismiss a case with concessions made by the defendant. If the defendant breaks the agreement, the prosecutor can refile charges with the defendant's confession.
- DiscoveryDirect link to this item
The process through which information and evidence in a case is shared with the defense by the prosecutor.
- Discretionary ArrestDirect link to this item
Discretionary arrest laws are a classification of warrantless arrest laws that do not mandate an arrest, but rather allow individual police officers to make that decision.
- Dispose / DispositionDirect link to this item
An action by a court that closes a case. Examples include conviction, acquittal, dismissal, diversion/deferral.
- District AttorneyDirect link to this item
Represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses.
- Drug CaseDirect link to this item
Cases that involve the alleged possession, use, distribution, or manufacture of controlled substances or drug paraphernalia.
- Due ProcessDirect link to this item
The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution each contain a clause preventing the government from "depriv[ing] any person of life, liberty, or property" without fair and formal treatment under the law; including the laws under which they are prosecuted and the legal proceedings they endure. There should be no arbitrary or unreasonable treatment of a defendant.
- Eighth AmendementDirect link to this item
"Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."
- Electronic MonitoringDirect link to this item
In some jurisdictions, the court may decide to release the defendant pretrial and order them to use an electronic device to track their location at certain times.
- ExpunctionDirect link to this item
Sealing, or making unavailable, a criminal record.
- Failure to AppearDirect link to this item
Also known as an "FTA," a failure to appear in court is when a defendant doesn't show up for a scheduled court hearing. FTAs can affect the pretrial release status of a defendant since they can lead to the judge issuing a warrant for the defendant's arrest.
- FelonyDirect link to this item
Serious offense for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of one year may be imposed.
- Felony CaseDirect link to this item
A case where the most serious filing charge (or referred charge for a declination) was a felony.
- Fifth AmendmentDirect link to this item
"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."
- Fourteenth AmendmentDirect link to this item
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
- Grand JuryDirect link to this item
A Grand Jury is a group of citizens empowered by law to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against a defendant through an indictment. The prosecutor presents the case to the Grand Jury, but the group can conduct their own independent investigation, including requesting witness testimony and additional documentation. The Grand Jury proceedings are private.
- Gross MisdemeanorDirect link to this item
A class of misdemeanor that is more serious than a regular misdemeanor but less serious than a felony.
- Guilty PleaDirect link to this item
A defendant admits respoinsibility for a crime and forfeits their right to trial.
- HearingDirect link to this item
Any formal proceeding in court in which evidence is presented and/or arguments are made in favor of a certain outcome on a case.
- IncarcerationDirect link to this item
A sentence involving prison or jail confinement.
- Index crimeDirect link to this item
The FBI classifies murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, arson, and auto theft as index crimes in its annual crime report because they are considered more serious.
- IndigentDirect link to this item
A person is of indigent status if they do not have sufficient income to afford an attorney as determined by the courts.
- Insufficient CasesDirect link to this item
There were fewer than 30 cases in the pool from which the Measure was to be derived.
- JailDirect link to this item
Jails are correctional institutions usually administered by a county that, generally, house individuals awaiting case disposition and those convicted of misdemeanor or felony charges.
- Jury TrialDirect link to this item
In a jury trial, the jury determines whether there is enough evidence to prove that the defendant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If the jury finds the defendant guilty, the judge will then decide on the appropriate sentence or punishment.
- MisdemeanorDirect link to this item
A minor offense usually punishable by probation or at most one year in county jail.
- Misdemeanor CaseDirect link to this item
A case where the most serious charge was a misdemeanor, irrespective of whether the case was pursued in court or not.
- Missing or UnknownDirect link to this item
Values that were not provided in the original source data, were deemed unreliable during the coding process, or could not be standardized to the common codebook.
- Motion to Compel DiscoveryDirect link to this item
Application to the court to settle disputes when one party refuses to turn over evidence to opposing counsel.
- Non-custodial ReferralDirect link to this item
A non-custodial referral occurs when law enforcement issues a citation (also known as notice to appear, desk appearance ticket, or summons) to the defendant for them to show up in court at a certain date and time.
- NonviolentDirect link to this item
Nonviolent offenses are those in which there was no use or threat to use violence. They include property, drug, driving under the influence, public order, criminal traffic, and other offenses.
- Other OffenseDirect link to this item
An offense outside of the violent, property, drug, DUI, public order, and criminal traffic categories.
- Other attorneyDirect link to this item
A type of representation that does not fall into the other categories (court-appointed private, private, pro-se, public defender).
- Per CapitaDirect link to this item
- Permanent AttorneyDirect link to this item
Retained or assigned counsel that is expected to remain throughout the case.
- Plea BargainDirect link to this item
A negotiation process between prosecution, defense, and judge by which the defendant agrees to plead guilty in return for concessions made by the prosecutor, typically including lesser (charge bargaining) or fewer (count bargaining) charges or less severe punishment (sentence bargaining).
- Preliminary HearingDirect link to this item
In a preliminary hearing the judge determines whether there is sufficient evidence or probable cause to believe that a felony crime occurred, that it was committed by the defendant, and that the individual should be taken to trial. Misdemeanors do not have preliminary hearings.
- Presumptive (citations)Direct link to this item
Some states require the issuance of citations (instead of arrest) when certain factors are present, for example, a misdemeanor possession of marijuana.
- Presumptive vs. MandatoryDirect link to this item
A mandatory sentence is dictated by state law and leaves no room for judicial discretion, while presumptive sentencing sets a baseline to be considered along with other aggravating or mitigating factors of the case.
- Pretrial DetentionDirect link to this item
The court may decide to keep a defendant in jail for the duration of the case. Pretrial detention is often imposed when there is a high risk that the defendant won't show up in court, a high risk that they will hurt themselves or others, or when a very serious offense was committed.
- Pretrial DiversionDirect link to this item
Pretrial diversion programs offer eligible defendants a chance to avoid charges, incarceration, or a criminal record, provided the programs are completed. The prosecutor may offer the defendant the opportunity to enroll in such a program before or after charges have been filed in court.
- Private AttorneyDirect link to this item
A defense attorney retained at the defendant's own expense.
- Pro SeDirect link to this item
Opting to represent oneself during court proceedings rather than retain an attorney.
- Probable CauseDirect link to this item
Probable cause is the legal standard for police to determine whether they can make an arrest or conduct a search. This requires that the police present facts or evidence that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a specific suspect committed the crime. This is also known as reasonable cause.
- Proxy MeasureDirect link to this item
A variable that is not itself a direct measure of a phenomenon, but operates in place of another, immeasurable variable. It should, however, have a strong correlation, or relationship, with the outcome of interest.
- Public DefenderDirect link to this item
A court-appointed attorney for defendants unable to afford legal counsel on their own.
- Public Order CaseDirect link to this item
Public order cases involve defendants accused of actions or behaviors that interfere with the normal flow of society such as disorderly conduct, loitering, trepassing, weapons offenses, prostitution, lewd behavior in public, etc.
- RORDirect link to this item
Released on Recognizance (requiring no payment)
- ROR RevocationDirect link to this item
If, at any time, the defendant violates the conditions of their pretrial release, the judge can revoke the release and place them back in custody.
- RecidivismDirect link to this item
Recidivism refers to a person's relapse into criminal behavior after they have been sanctioned or received treatment for a previous crime.
- Referred ChargeDirect link to this item
A charge recommended for prosecution by law enforcement.
- Relative DisparityDirect link to this item
Shows the disparity between two groups of defendants using a ratio between their measure values.
- Sentence CreditsDirect link to this item
Defendants can earn credits, or time, against their sentence for good behavior.
- Sixth AmendmentDirect link to this item
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense."
- Split SentenceDirect link to this item
A period of confinement in jail or prison followed by a period of supervision in the community or probation.
- Summary ConvictionDirect link to this item
Some minor and petty crimes can receive judgement without a jury trial.
- SuretyDirect link to this item
Person who agrees to pay the amount of money specified in a written agreement (surety undertaking) if the accused fails to appear in court. This is sometimes a requirement before a defendant is released on bail.
- SuspectDirect link to this item
A suspect is someone who is being investigated by law enforcement in connection with the commission of a crime.
- TrialDirect link to this item
A criminal trial is a judicial examination and determination of facts and legal issues arising in a case. The prosecution represents the people and is responsible for presenting evidence proving that the defendant committed the crime. The defense attorney represents the accused. In jury trials, the jury decides whether the evidence proves that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and the judge decides on a sentence. In a bench trial, the judge decides both on guilt and sentence.
- UCR program (Uniform Crime Reporting)Direct link to this item
The FBI created the Uniform Crime Report in order to meet the need for consistent crime statistics across the country. The UCR is collected and published annually, showing data for city, college, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies.
- Valid DataDirect link to this item
Values that were provided by the original source data and were capable of being standardized to the common codebook.
- WaiverDirect link to this item
A waiver is when a party in the case, usually the defendant, voluntarily forgoes or relinquishes a right (e.g., right to a speedy trial).
- With or Without PrejudiceDirect link to this item
When a case is dismissed with prejudice, it is permanently dismissed and charges cannot be refiled. A case dismissed without prejudice can be refiled at a later date.
- Zero Tolerance PolicingDirect link to this item
Strategy that focuses on the strict, non-discretionary policing of minor crimes with the hope of further reducing more major, violent crimes.