Accusatory Instrument

A formal document that sets forth an accusation of a crime.


When a judge or jury finds a person not guilty after a trial.


The taking or keeping of a person in custody by a law enforcement agency.

Certificate of Disposition

Official court record of the outcome of the case.


A certificate is a document issued in some states by a court or other authorized governmental agency, such as a parole board, as evidence that a person with a criminal record is entitled to recover at least some of the rights and privileges of citizenship and may help show rehabilitation. The terms and conditions under which certificates are issued vary widely among the states that use them.


A formal accusation of an offense as a preliminary step to prosecution.


The President’s or a Governor’s power to pardon a person convicted of a crime or crimes, or to commute a criminal sentence.

Commercial Reporting Agency (CRA)

This term refers to businesses that maintain historical information pertaining to criminal records and the credit experience of individuals or businesses. The data is collected from various sources including, courts, government agencies, credit card companies, banks, and credit unions.


A guilty plea or a court’s finding of guilt for a crime or an offense.

Criminal record

A list of contacts with the criminal justice system. This can include arrests, convictions, and other contacts.

Declined Prosecution

In some cases, the prosecutor may decide not to proceed against a defendant after an arrest. This may happen if there is insufficient evidence or if further investigation is needed.


A law that disqualifies people from holding certain jobs or other rights because of their criminal record.


When a criminal case ends for a reason other than acquittal, guilty plea, or a court finding of guilt.


The outcome of what happens in a criminal case.

District Attorney's office

A District Attorney (DA) represents the state government in the prosecution of criminal offenses, and is the chief law enforcement officer and top prosecutor of that state's jurisdiction. Often, cities and counties within a state have their own DA.

Diversion program

A program that refers certain criminal defendants before trial to community programs on job training, education, and the like, which if successfully completed may lead to the dismissal of the charges.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

A federal agency responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.


The removal of certain criminal history information from a person’s criminal record.

Fair Credit Reporting Act

The Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 (“FCRA”), is U.S. Federal Government legislation enacted to promote the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information contained in the files of consumer reporting agencies. FCRA applies to credit reports and commercially prepared criminal background checks.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

A federal agency that administers antitrust and consumer protection legislation in pursuit of free and fair competition in the marketplace.


An offense which is the most serious crime category. Felonies are often punishable by fine, penalty, forfeiture, or confinement in prison. Felonies are usually punishable by more than one year in prison.

Gonzalez v Pritzker

The name of the class action lawsuit brought against the U.S. Census Bureau on behalf of African Americans and Latinos who were discriminated against when their applications for temporary jobs for the 2010 census were screened out by the Census Bureau’s use of often the inaccurate and incomplete FBI arrest and convictions database and placing the burden on the applicants to correct the errors with court records within 30 days—virtually impossible and a violation of their rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act due to the adverse impact on Latinos and African Americans, given their higher arrest, conviction, and incarceration rates.

Grand Jury

A group of people who are chosen to sit for a month or more, and who decide whether or not the evidence presented to them is strong enough to return an indictment and hold a suspect for trial.

Habeas Appeal

A challenge to an unlawful arrest or imprisonment.


A type of accusatory instrument that sets forth an accusation of a crime.


A local government’s detention center where persons awaiting trial or those convicted of misdemeanors are confined.

Mental incapacitation

A determination that a person is unable to provide for personal needs and/or property management; and the person cannot adequately understand and appreciate the nature and consequences of his or her actions.


A crime that is less serious than a felony and is usually punishable by fine, penalty, forfeiture, or confinement in jail. Misdemeanors are usually only punishable by up to one year in jail.


To make a document authentic by a public officer who attests or certifies writings. To get a document notarized, you usually have to pay a notary public and you must sign the document in front of the notary.

NY Adjourned In Contemplation Of Dismissal (ACD)

Allows a court to defer the disposition of a defendant's case, with the potential that the defendant's charge will be dismissed if the defendant does not engage in additional criminal conduct or other acts prohibited by the court as a condition of the ACD.

NY Class A Felonies

The most serious felony which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

NY Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS)

DCJS is the state agency that keeps all New York State criminal record information.

NY Executive Clemency Bureau is a unit within the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Assists the Governor's Office with clemency applications, which includes compiling past criminal and/or inmate records.

NY MorphoTrust USA

Private company that provides identity services to enable government agencies and businesses to enroll and vet individuals through a nationwide network of locations, offering live scan fingerprinting and other identity-related products and services.

NY New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS)

The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision is responsible for the confinement and housing of individuals under custody held at state facilities and supervising parolees throughout regional offices.

NY NYSID number

The New York State Identification Number (NYSID) is assigned by the DCJS. It is a permanent number and remains with the individual for his or her lifetime. The NYSID number is composed of eight digits and an alpha check digit suffix. Pursuant to DCJS, the alpha check digit suffix can be one of the following: H, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q, R, Y, or Z.

NY sealed

Certain arrests and convictions are eligible for sealing, which means that many employers will not have access to or be able to see that part of your record.

NY Violent Felonies

A crime consisting of conduct that presents a serious risk of injury to another person or that is punishable by imprisonment for more than one year —used especially in federal sentencing of career criminals guilty of crimes involving the use of a weapon.

Occupational license

Any certificate, permit, or grant of permission that the state requires for you to legally have a certain occupation, employment, trade, vocation, business or profession. The term "occupational license" relates to jobs only and does not refer to the any license or permit to own, possess, carry or fire any explosive, pistol, handgun rifle, shotgun or other firearm, or drive a car.


The act of officially eliminating punishment or other legal consequences of a conviction.


The release of a prisoner from imprisonment before the full sentence has been served. Parole is not available for all sentences. It is usually granted for good behavior on the condition that the parolee regularly report to a supervising officer for a specified period.


A state or federal facility of confinement for people convicted of felony offenses.

Private employer

An employer that runs a for-profit or not-for-profit business or organization that is not owned or operated by the government.


A court-imposed criminal sentence that releases a convicted person into the community instead of sending the person to jail or prison.

Public employer

A local, state, or federal government employer.

RAP sheet

Record of Arrests and Prosecutions.


The process of seeking to improve a person’s character or outlook so that he or she can function in society without committing other crimes.


The punishment imposed by a court after finding a criminal defendant guilty.

U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts a national count of all people in the United States every 10 years.


a jury’s finding or decision on the factual issues of a case.


An offense carrying the lowest punishment. Although they are penal in nature, violations are not defined as crimes.


An authorization for a law enforcement agent to make an arrest.

Youthful offender

Some states treat a person in late adolescence or early adulthood who has been charged with a crime different from juveniles and adults. Youthful offenders may be eligible for special programs or remedies. These laws vary by state.