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A&B: Assault and battery

AKA: Also known as.

Aikido: Police defensive-tactics techniques developed from this particular style of Japanese martial arts. 

Abscond: To secretly leave the jurisdiction of a court or to conceal one’s self from law-enforcement officials.

Accessory: One who aids or assists in the commission of a crime.

Aid and Abet: To voluntarily assist another person in the commission of a crime.

Alternate Light Source: Equipment used to enhance potential items of evidence, either visible or invisible light at varying wavelengths.

Amicus Curiae (Latin): A friend of the court; someone who is not a party to court proceedings that supplies information to the court that otherwise may not be readily available.

Arrest: To deprive someone of his liberty, or to seize a person suspected of a crime.

B&E: Break and enter

Bench Warrant: An arrest warrant issued by the court.

Bindle Paper: Clean paper folded to contain trace evidence such as hairs or fibers.

Biohazard Bag: A red, plastic bag used to contain materials that have been exposed to blood and other body fluids and parts. The container will be clearly marked as Biohazard Material in bold lettering.

Biological Weapon: Agents used to threaten or destroy human life, e.g. anthrax, smallpox, E. coli, etc.

Bloodborne Pathogen: Infectious, disease-causing microorganisms found in biological fluids.

Blow: Cocaine.

BOLO: Police acronym for Be On The Lookout.

Bread Slicing: The method of slicing of body organs by a medical examiner. The organs are sliced into sections resembling a loaf of bread.

Breaking and Entering: Any act of physical force in which obstruction to entrance of a building is removed. Simply pushing a door open or raising a window can be considered “breaking.” Breaking and entering are two of the elements of burglary.

Bullet: A one-year prison sentence.

Burglary: Breaking into any dwelling in the nighttime with the intent to commit a felony.

CI: Confidential informant

Capital Murder: The willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing of any person in conjunction with the following:

  1. Abduction, when the abduction is committed with the intent to extort money or a pecuniary benefit.
  2. The willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing of any person by another for hire.
  3. The killing of any person by a prisoner of a state or local corrections facility or while in the custody of an employee thereof.
  4. The killing of another during the commission of a robbery or attempted robbery, while armed with a deadly weapon.
  5. The killing of any person in the commission of and subsequent to rape, or attempted rape, or forcible or attempted forcible sodomy.
  6. The killing of any law-enforcement officer when the purpose interferes with the performance of his duties.
  7. The killing of more than one person as part of the same act or transaction.
  8. The killing of any child under the age of twelve during the commission of abduction.
  9. The killing of any person during the commission of or attempting to commit a violation of Schedule I or Schedule II Drug Laws.

(Capital Murder offense laws can vary from state to state. Please check the laws governing your state).

(See murder below)

Carnal Knowledge: Sexual intercourse.

Case File: Collection of documents pertaining to a particular investigation.

Case Identifiers: Alphabetic or numeric assignment of characters used to identify a particular case.

Chain of Custody: A chronological history of the evidence. This is a list of all persons handling, holding, or having possession of a piece of evidence. The document will contain all pertinent information such as names, dates, victims, suspects, etc.

Chemical Enhancement: Use of chemicals to aid detection and documentation of evidence (e.g. semen, blood, fingerprints, narcotics) that may be difficult to see with the human eye alone.

Conspiracy: Two or more persons working together to commit an illegal act.

Contra Pacem (Latin): Against the peace.

Corpus Delicti (Latin): Body of the crime; the proof that a crime has been committed.

Crimen Falsi (Latin): Literally a crime of deceit or fraud.

Criminal Mischief: A crime committed against property.

CSU: Crime Scene Unit

Drop A Dime: To snitch on someone.

Drowning:  Water and mucus in the airway of a drowning victim create a foamy mixture as the victim struggles to breathe. The foam is discovered during an autopsy and confirms that a drowning has occurred.

Dying Declaration:  Statement given by a person who believes he is about to die, concerning the cause of the circumstances surrounding a specific crime or chain of events, usually about his own impending death. A strong piece of evidence highly regarded by courts as truth. A dying declaration is important evidence, but courts no longer accept this type of statement alone as sufficient evidence for a conviction. There must normally be other supporting evidence.

EDTA:  Anti-coagulant in purple-topped blood vials.

En Banc (French) By the full court. A matter heard by the entire appellate court.

ETA: Estimated time of arrival.

Exclusionary Rule: Protects against the use of evidence in court that was seized during an illegal search by police.

Exigent Circumstances: Emergency conditions

Felony: A crime punishable by either death or confinement in a state correctional facility.

First-Degree Murder: Murder by poison, lying in wait, imprisonment, starving, or by any willful, deliberate, and pre-meditated killing, or in the commission of, or attempt to commit arson, rape, forcible sodomy, inanimate-object sexual penetration, robbery, burglary, or abduction. (This definition varies in different states.) All other murder, other than capital murder, is defined as second-degree murder.

Fishing: The use of a long piece of string or elastic from the waistband of underwear by a prisoner to retrieve an object from an adjoining cell.

GSW: Gunshot wound.

Habeas Corpus (Latin): You have the body. Tests the legality of imprisonment or confinement.

Homicide: The killing of any human being by another.

Hot Pursuit: The action of pursuing or chasing a suspect in a crime. Hot pursuit allows officers to cross jurisdictional boundaries in order to apprehend a suspect, however the suspect must remain in sight for the chase to be justified as a hot pursuit.

Impression Evidence: Objects or items that have retained identifying characteristics of another object that has been pressed against them (footprints, tool marks, etc.).

Ink: Tattoos.

Latent Print: A print that is not visible to the naked eye, made by contact with a surface by hands, or feet transferring human material to that surface.

Jailhouse Lawyer: An inmate not licensed to practice law who assist other inmates with legal matters, such as appeals.

Lying in Wait: Hiding for the purpose of committing a crime.

Lynching: Any violence by a mob upon the body of any person, resulting in the death of that person.

LZ: Landing zone (typically used when referring to helicopters)

Misdemeanor: All crimes not deemed as felonies and punishable by fines and/or incarceration in facilities other than state or federal institutions (county jails, halfway houses, home confinement, etc.).

Modus Operandi (Latin): The manner of operation. A specific means or method of accomplishing an act.

Murder: An unlawful homicide.

MVA: Motor vehicle accident.

NCIC: National Crime Information Center.

Nolo Contendere (Latin): I do not wish to contend, fight, or maintain (a defense). A plea of not wishing to present a defense in a criminal matter.

Parole: Allows a prisoner to serve the remainder of a sentence outside prison walls. He will serve the sentence under the supervision of a parole officer. If the conditions of parole are not met, the offender will be returned to prison to serve any remaining sentence. Parole is not a part of a sentence.

PD: Police department.

Personal Protective Equipment: Items such as latex gloves, masks, and eye protection used as a protective barrier against biohazardous materials, disease, and to avoid human contamination of a crime scene.

Petechiae: Tiny purple or red spots on the eyes, neck, face, and/or lungs, indicating death by asphyxiation. (Bleeding does not have to be present. See Petechial Hemorrhage below.)

Petechial Hemorrhage:  Tiny purple or red spots on the eyes or skin caused by small areas of bleeding. (See Petechiae above.)

PO: Probation Officer.

POV: Privately owned vehicle.

Presumptive Test: A test used to screen for the presence of a specific substance, such as a narcotic. The results of a presumptive test cannot be used for evidential confirmation, or as a certification in a court of law. A presumptive test adds to investigators’ reasonable suspicions and is considered to be probable cause for the issuance of a search warrant or a warrant of arrest. The final, legal, testing must be completed in a certified laboratory by certified personnel.

Pro Bono Publico (Latin): For the public good or welfare. Without a fee. An attorney working for free is said to be working Pro Bono.

Projectile Trajectory Analysis: The method used for determining the path of travel of a high-speed object such as a bullet or arrow.

Probation: A sentence in lieu of imprisonment. A probation officer supervises a subject on probation.

Purple Top Vial: A vial used for blood samples, which contains EDTA, an anti-coagulant.

Res Judicata (Latin): The thing has been decided.

Seg: Prison segregation unit.

Shakedown: A search of a prison cell.

Shiv: A homemade knife.

SHU: Special Housing Unit. A special lockup facility within a prison that’s usually reserved for housing violent offenders.

Slimers: A prison inmate who throws urine or fecal matter at people passing by the prisoner’s cell. They sometimes pack the offensive substance into toothpaste tubes and squirt it at their intended targets.

Stop and Frisk: Allows a police officer to search a person for weapons without a warrant. It is a pat-down search of the person’s outer clothing only.

Trace Evidence: Evidence in small quantities, such as hair, fibers, gunshot residue, and particles of glass.

Transient Evidence: Evidence that can be easily lost or destroyed by conditions at a scene if not protected or preserved (evidence exposed to the elements).

Venue: The place where a trial is held.

Voir Dire (French): To speak the truth. An examination or questioning of potential jurors conducted by the court or attorneys to determine truthfulness and ability to serve for jury duty.

Warrant: A written order directing someone to do something.

Yard: Outdoor recreation area of a prison.

 

Law enforcement has a language all its own, and without a translator citizens sometimes feel left out of the conversation. Here are a few simple terms worth remembering and maybe inserting into a tale or two.

Affidavit – a written statement of facts given under oath.

Bond/Bail – money or other security posted with the court to guarantee an appearance.

  • Bail is a monetary sum paid by the defendant that allows their release from jail. If the subject fails to appear in court the sum paid is forfeited to the court.
  • Bond is similar to securing a loan, where a person offers collateral for the amount borrowed. For example, a bail bonds-person pays the offender’s bail on their behalf in exchange for a fee, typically 10-15% of the total bail amount. In doing so, the bond company guarantees the subject will appear on their scheduled day for trial/hearing. Should the offender not appear, the bail/bond company must forfeit the entire amount of the money they paid the court on behalf of their client. This is why bail bonds-people hunt down, or hire bounty hunters to locate the missing offenders—to avoid paying those often large sums of money.
  • Property bonds are allowed in some cases. This is where a piece of property of value equal to or exceeding the bail amount is secured as collateral for the release of the offender. Should the offender not appear as promised, the property is forfeited to the court or the bond company who posted the bail. The equity of the property must be greater than the amount owed.
  • Signature bonds are sometimes used for low risk offenders. They’re allowed to sign a form promising to appear on the date required. If they fail to do so they’re required to pay the full bail fee in addition to other court costs and restitution.

* On August 28, 2018, California governor Jerry Brown signed into legislature a law eliminating cash bail as a means to bring the bail system into a more equal state for the rich and the poor. Oftentimes, people of lesser means sit in jail for months simply because they cannot afford to pay the amount of bail set for their offense. Whereas, wealthy people have no trouble paying their bail amounts and are set free.

According to the Sacramento Bee, “A person whose risk to public safety and risk of failure to appear is determined to be “low” would be released with the least restrictive non-monetary conditions possible. ‘Medium-risk’ individuals could be released or held depending on local standards. ‘High-risk’ individuals would remain in custody until their arraignment, as would anyone who has committed certain sex crimes or violent felonies, is arrested for driving under the influence for the third time in less than 10 years, is already under supervision by the courts or has violated any conditions of pretrial release in the previous five years.”

Read the full story by click the article title below.

Jerry Brown signs bill eliminating money bail in California

Badge Bunny – woman obsessed with cops (I mean really obsessed … well, you get the idea). Cop groupies.

Basket Weave – design that’s stamped into a leather gun belt.

Break Leather – drawing a firearm/weapon from its holster.

“Drawing” a service weapon.

CI – confidential informant.

City – referring to officers who work for city police departments. “The city will handle that case.” The same is so for county and state.

Civil case – a private lawsuit, not one brought by the state.

Complaint – a statement given under oath where someone accuses another person of a crime. Officers may also refer to a call as a complaint. “Man, I caught two loud music complaints in one hour last night.”

Complainant – person who accuses another. Or, someone who called the police. “Respond to 666 Mockingbird Lane. The complainant’s name is Ralph Munster, the cousin to that other nut, the one who lives down the street at 1313.”

Cook – make crack cocaine or methamphetamine.

Cooker – person who makes crack cocaine or methamphetamine.

Driving Miss Daisy – having an older, supervisory officer riding along on patrol. “Just my luck, I’m stuck with driving Miss Daisy tonight.”

Duracell Shampoo – using a metal flashlight to deliver a polite “love tap” to a combative suspect’s head. No longer a permitted technique/tactic, for obvious reasons.

Fish Eye – a person is said to “fish eye” when he knows an officer is watching him, so he pretends not to notice. However, he’s quite obviously watching the officer out of the extreme corner of his eye while trying to keep his head aimed straight ahead.

“Watch Carl Crook. He’s giving you the fish eye. I’ll bet he rabbits.”

Flashlight Therapy – using a metal flashlight to deliver a polite “love tap” to a combative suspect’s head. Not permitted as a tactic in most agencies, but when a life is in danger, well, anything goes.

Foot Bail – to run from the police.

Happy Feet – suspect is a runner, or is about to flee. “Watch that guy. Looks like he’s got happy feet.”

Hit – outstanding warrant, or stolen. “We got a hit on that car.”

Hook ’em Up – to handcuff a prrisoner.

Hot – stolen.

Information – Paperwork (document) filed by a prosecutor that accuses someone of a crime.

John Wayne – excessive use of force. “He went all ‘John Wayne’ on that guy.”

Knock and announce – requirement that officers knock on the door and announce their presence when serving a search warrant. “Police. Search warrant!”

Lead Poisoning – multiple gunshot wounds. “Look at all the bullet holes. He must’ve died of lead poisoning.”

Light ‘Em Up – initiate a traffic stop by turning on blue lights. Also used as an unofficial command to begin firing at a suspect(s).

OIC – officer in charge.

Cap’n Rufus “Peanut” Jenkins, Chief Deputy of the Cornsqueezin’ County Sheriff’s Office.

PC – probable cause. “Do you have enough PC to get a warrant?”

Plastic – credit card.

Priors – previous arrests.

Rabbit – run from the police.

Railroad Tracks – Slang term for the two bars on each collar denoting the rank of captain.

Captain Ghoul, graveyard shift commander and supervisor of K-9 units

Ride the chair – die by electrocution.

I witnessed the execution of the notorious serial killer Timothy Spencer, nicknamed The Southside Strangler. Spencer’s case was the basis of Patricia Cornwell’s first book, Post Mortem.

The Night I Watched a Serial Killer Die

Ride the needle – Die by lethal injection.

Roll up – arrest someone.

Stripes – a sergeant’s patch or insignia.

T-Bone – broadsided in an crash.

Verbal – a warning. “I gave him a verbal, but next time his butt’s going to jail.”

Visual – able to see something or someone. “Have you got a visual?”

UC – undercover officer.

Me, during my time working undercover narcotics.

Walk – to get off a charge. Released without a record. “Man, rich people walk all the time. It’s not fair!”

Write – issue a summons.

“Did you write him?”

“Yep. 87 in a 55.”

VIN – Vehicle Identification number. “Run the VIN on that car to see if you get a hit.”


“Write “Believable Make-Believe.”

ASCLD – American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors.

AFIS – Automated Fingerprint Identification System. Palmprint storage and search capabilities are also in place.

ALPS – Automated Latent Print System.

ASCLD/LAB – American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board.

Acid Fuchsin – Reddish protein stain used to enhance bloody friction ridge detail of fingerprints.

Acid Yellow 7Fluorescent dye stain used to help visualize latent prints left in blood on nonporous surfaces.

Acid Yellow-7, Arrowhead Forensics

Acidified Hydrogen Peroxide – Solution used to develop friction ridge detail on cartridge casings by etching the surface of the casing not covered with sebaceous material (oils and/or fats).

Adactylia – Congenital absence of fingers and/or toes.

Adermatoglyphia – Extremely rare congenital absence of fingerprints.

Alanine – The most common amino acid found in proteins. Alanine is often
used to test latent print chemicals for an amino acid reaction.

Aluminum Chloride – A metal salt used to treat ninhydrin developed latent prints.

Amicus Brief – Legal document filed by someone not associated with a case but possibly has knowledge of a subject matter that may be of interest to the courts.  The person submitting the brief is known as amici curiae.

Amici Curiae – Latin for “friend of the court.”

Amido Black – Bluish-black stain used to enhance bloody fingerprint friction ridge detail.

Anhidrosis – Medical condition that reduces or prevents the body’s ability to sweat.

Benzidine – Once described as the best technique for developing bloody latent prints on nonporous items, Benzidine has been linked to cancers and is no
longer used.

Bichromatic ™ – A multi-colored powder used to process an object for fingerprints.

Boiling – Method used to re-hydrate the friction skin/fingerprints/footprints of a deceased person. To process the prints water is boiled and them removed from the heat. The hand of the deceased is submerged in the water for approximately five seconds. The skin is then dried and the fingers and/or palm is printed.

CJIS – Criminal Justice Information Services Division.

Calcar Area – The area located at the heel of the foot.

Cheiloscopy – The study of lip prints.

Clandestine – In secret.

Cluster Prints – More than one fingerprint grouped/clumped/positioned in the same spot of a surface.

Comparator – A split image projection screen used to view and compare fingerprints.

Core – Center of a fingerprint pattern.

Dactylography – The study of fingerprints as a method of identification.

Degloving – The accidental/unintentional separation of the skin from the hands or feet. This “skin slippage” often occurs after a body has been submerged in water for a period od time.

Diff-Lift™ – Fingerprint lifting tape made especially for use on textured objects.

Dorsal – The backside of the hand.

Erroneous Exclusion – Disregarding evidence without a sound basis for doing so.

Exemplar – The known prints of a known individual.

FLS – Forensic Light Source. Includes all light sources used in forensic examinations.

FRE – Federal Rules of Evidence.

Fingerprint Society – Yes, it’s a thing. The Fingerprint Society was conceived in 1974 by Martin J. Leadbetter.

Genipin – A reagent used to develop friction ridge detail on porous items. The result is a dark blue image that can be seen without enhanced lighting.

Hallux – A person’s big toe.

Sir William James Herschel – The first European to recognize and utilize the value of fingerprints for identification purposes.

Histology – The study of the microscopic structure of animal or
plant tissues.

Hot Breath TechniqueBreathing on a latent fingerprint either to help visualize the print or to add moisture back into an older latent print. Also known as Huffing.

Hyperhidrosis – Medical condition that increases sweating. Sometimes caused by certain medications, or heredity.

Hypohidrosis – Medical condition that decreases sweating. Sometimes caused by certain medications, or heredity or damage to the skin.

IAFIS – Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System. The FBI’s first
fully automated AFIS computer database.

Image Reversal – Occurs when the friction ridges in a latent print are reversed. Unintentional transferred prints could occur when using rubber lifters. It’s even happened when items are stacked on top of one another (stacks of evidence bags, for example), causing a print to transfer from one item to the next. The same is true with books. A print from one page could transfer to the next page (after the book is closed for a long time). These prints are mirror images and should be obvious to a trained examiner.

Latent Print – Print that is visible to the naked eye.

Liqui-drox – Fluorescent (yellow) solution used to enhance/develop fingerprint friction ridge detail on the adhesive and non-adhesive sides of dark colored tape.

Loupe – Small magnifying glass used to examine prints.