Glossary

ABADirect link to this item

American Bar Association

AcquittalDirect link to this item

When an accused criminal defendant is found not guilty.

AdjudicationDirect link to this item

When a court makes an order or judgment in a case.

ArraignmentDirect link to this item

After an arrest is made, the accused is called in to have their charges read to them. This is also the time in which they enter their plea and bail is set.

Attorney WithdrawalDirect link to this item

An attorney terminates her representation of her client, whether voluntarily or under circumstances that require it.

BailDirect link to this item

Money 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.

BondDirect link to this item

A portion of bail paid by a defendant, or a bail bondsman, or other contractor on his/her 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 his/her 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 use a proxy definition of "case" to mean all charges associated with the same defendant and filed (or referred for prosecution, in the case of declinations) 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. Since the focus of our Measures is case processing, we believe this approach, while not perfect, is currently the best way to standardize case definition across jurisdictions.

Case DismissalDirect link to this item

The case proceedings are terminated without acquittal or conviction.

Case DispositionDirect link to this item

The final settlement or decision determined by the court.

Case FilingDirect link to this item

Criminal proceedings are initiated if and when the prosecutor decides to file a case with the court.

Clearance RateDirect link to this item

Number of crimes "cleared" (solved) divided by the total number of crimes recorded.

ConvictionDirect link to this item

The defendant is declared guilty of a criminal offense.

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.

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 by opposing counsel.

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.

DisparityDirect link to this item

How often defendants belonging to a group may have been affected by a criminal justice practice compared to defendants from another group.

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 offenseDirect link to this item

Category of crime that involves the use, possession, distribution, or manufacturing of any illegal drug or drug paraphernalia. The full offense crosswalk is available on the NACJD website.

Due ProcessDirect link to this item

The Fifth and Fourteenth amendments 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."

ExpunctionDirect link to this item

Sealing, or making unavailable, a criminal record.

FelonyDirect link to this item

Category of crimes, both violent and nonviolent, that are more serious than misdemeanors and punishable by imprisonment (of one year or more) or death.

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."

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 guilt to a crime and forfeits his/her right to trial.

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 he or she does 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.

MisdemeanorDirect link to this item

Category of crimes, both violent and nonviolent, that are more serious than infractions, but less serious than felonies, and punishable by up to one year in jail, or fines.

Misdemeanor caseDirect link to this item

A case where the most serious filing charge (or referred charge if the case was declined) was a misdemeanor.

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

Utilized to settle disputes when one party refuses to turn over evidence to opposing counsel; this motion orders them to do so.

Non-custodial referralDirect link to this item

In the situation of an arrest, a notice to appear/citation was given instead of physical detainment.

NonviolentDirect link to this item

The crime did not involve any form of force, injury, or other form of violence. This can include property crimes, public order crimes, etc.

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).

Other offenseDirect link to this item

Category of crime that includes offenses that do not fit into the other offense categories (violent, property, drug, public order). The full offense crosswalk is available on the NACJD website.

Per CapitaDirect link to this item

Per person

Permanent attorneyDirect link to this item

Retained or assigned counsel that is expected to remain throughout the case.

Plea BargainDirect link to this item

The defendant agrees to plead guilty, typically to lesser or fewer charges, in return for concessions made by the prosecutor.

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

A defendant is held in custody before a case proceeds to trial or disposition.

Pretrial DiversionDirect link to this item

A defendant is steered away from standard criminal justice proceedings, and possible conviction, and into rehabilitative programs instead.

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.

Property offenseDirect link to this item

Category of crime relating to the theft or destruction of another's property. The full offense crosswalk is available on the NACJD website.

ProsecutorDirect link to this item

Attorney who initiates and conducts cases against the defendant in criminal proceedings.

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 offenseDirect link to this item

Category of crime that does not require or identify any single victim, but interferes with the social norm or is considered harmful to the community. The full offense crosswalk is available on the NACJD website.

Rated jail bedsDirect link to this item

Maximum number of beds assigned by a rating official to a facility, excluding separate temporary holding areas. (Minton, T.D. & Z. Zeng (2016). Jail Inmates in 2015. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Department of Justice, p.2. Retrieved on December 2016).

RecidivismDirect link to this item

If a convicted criminal commits a new offense (often measured by new arrest, new arraignment, or new conviction).

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.

RORDirect link to this item

Released on Recognizance (requiring no payment)

ROR RevocationDirect link to this item

If, at any time, the accused violates the conditions of his/her pre-trial release, the judge can revoke the release and place him/her back in custody.

Rural (as per Census)Direct link to this item

The US census defines rural areas as places with populations of fewer than 2,500 people.

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 sentence (aka bifurcated sentence, extended supervision)Direct link to this item

The defendant serves part of his/her sentence in prison and part on some form of supervised release.

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.

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.

Urban (as per Census)Direct link to this item

The US census defines urban as places with populations of 2,500 or more.

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.

Violent offenseDirect link to this item

Category of crime in which force, or the threatened use of force, is used against a victim or their property. The full offense crosswalk is available on the NACJD website.

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.