Glossary
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


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.

acquittal
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.

adjudication
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.

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

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

adult
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.

aftercare
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.

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

alibi
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.

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

Antiterrorism Act
See USA PATRIOT Act of 2001.

appeal
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.

appellant
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.

arraignment
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.

arrest
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.

arson
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.

atavism
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.

attorney
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 http://www.fbi.gov/publications/realitytech/realitytech.pdf. Accessed October 7, 2003.

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