Crime Writer’s Dictionary: From KA To Mugshot

Crime writer's dictionary


Junior Franklin, well known to all the local cops for his kiting expertise, was keeping-six in a beat up and rusty loser-cruiser while his KA, Little Larry Mazo, set a bit of Lex talionis in motion on the kiddie cop who once gave him a severe case of lead poisoning.

Not familiar with the terminology in the previous and somewhat odd sentence? No problem. Here’s K through M from our handy-dandy, mini crime writer’s dictionary.


KA – Known associate

Keepers – Thin leather straps used to attach a gun belt to an under belt, or dress belt.

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Belt keeper

Without belt keepers the duty belt would easily and quickly fall down to your ankles, especially when chasing someone through a dark alley.

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Two belt keepers positioned between handcuff cases

Keeping a Gambling House – A proprietor is said to be “keeping a gambling house” if he has knowledge and consents to gambling at or on his premises, or at a place under his control. If true, the proprietor is guilty of Keeping a Gambling House.

Keeping Six – Watching your back. The numerical reference is to the number six on a clock face. Standing at the center of the clock, facing twelve, six would be to your rear.

Kiddie Cop – School Resource Officer.

Kill – To deprive of life.

Kiting – Taking advantage of the time between when a check is deposited and when the funds are collected at another bank. This time period is known as “the float.” Drawing checks against deposits/funds which have not yet cleared. Writing checks against an account having funds insufficient to cover the check amount(s).

Kleptomania – An irresistible, uncontrollable propensity to steal things.

Knock and Announce – The rule that requires police to knock and announce their presence and purpose before entering a home. No-knock search warrants are the exception to the rule.



Laundering – Transfer of money gained illegally into legal channels for the purpose of hiding its true source.

Lawn Ornament – An intoxicated person who passed out in someone’s front yard.

Lay Witness – Person offering testimony who is not an expert on the subject matter at hand.

Lead Poisoning – Shot multiple times. “Wow, twenty-three gunshot wounds. The cause of death is definitely lead poisoning.”

Lex talionis – The law of retaliation. An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth.

Light ‘Em Up – Activate emergency/blue lights. Initiate a traffic stop. “That car matches the description of the one used in the armed robbery. Light ’em up.” This phrase was often used on the television show Southland.


Liquid Jesus – Pepper spray…because it has the capability to instantly convert the mean and nasty into sweet and compliant.

L.K.A. – Last Known Address

Lockdown – To temporarily confine prisoners to their cells during an emergency, or for added security during, after, or to prevent an “event.”.

Lockup – Temporary holding facility.

Looky-Loo – A person who cannot resist watching anything related to police, fire, EMS, train wreck, car crash, and general death and/or dismemberment. AKA Rubberneckers.

Loser Cruiser – A retired police car, now civilian-owned. Typically, the loser cruiser still has at least one spotlight still attached, as well as a couple of other police-type identifiers—antenna, etc. These cars are often purchased and driven by cop wannabe’s.



Mace-greff – In Old English law, one who buys stolen goods. A fence.

Mail Fraud – The use of the mail to defraud (mailing a letter to set a scheme in motion, or to continue the criminal act). Mail fraud is a federal offense.

Major Crimes – Unofficially, the broad classification of the most serious crimes—Murder, Rape, Robbery, etc. Lt. Leadfoot is the detective in charge of the Major Crimes Division.

Malice – Intentionally committing a wrongful act, with the intent of causing an injury of some type.

Manslaughter – Unlawful (inexcusable) killing someone without premeditation or malice.

M.E.  – Medical Examiner

Mens Rea – A criminal intent.

M.O. – Modus operandi, or method of operation. A pattern of behavior.

MCT – Mobile Computer Terminal

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Monger – A seller, or dealer. For example, fishmonger.

Mug Book – A collection of mugshots/photos of suspected and convicted criminals.

Mugshot – Photo taken of suspect during booking/processing.