background check Terminology Glossary




A person who aids or contributes in the commission or concealment of a crime.


A person in any way involved with another in the commisssion of a crime.


The charges against the defendant are dropped.

Adjudicated Guilty – Conviction

The defendant has been found guilty of the charges.


The ability to automate a judgment based on background screening outcome. This judgment often results in “meets requirements" or “does not meet requirements" outcome.

Adjudication Withheld – Non-conviction

No final judgement is ruled on the case. The defendant is given probation or community service for which they have a specified amount of time to complete. If the defendant complies, the case may be dismissed, depending on the state. If they do not dismiss in that particular state, then the disposition remains adjudication withheld and the case is closed. However, if the defendant does not comply, the case disposition may be changed and the defendant can be found guilty.

Adulterated specimen

A specimen that contains a substance that is not expected to be present in human urine, or contains a substance expected to be present but is at a concentration so high that it is not consistent with human urine.

Adverse Action

A negative action such as not hiring an applicant; not promoting or not retaining an employee.


A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer.


In the practice of the appellate courts, the decree or order is declared valid and will stand as rendered in the lower court.


Two or more people fighting in a public place.


A crime committed and made worse by circumstances such as violence, wapons or intent to cause harm.

Aid & Abet

To assist or facilitate a crime.


The formal written statement by a defendant responding to a complaint and setting forth the grounds of defense.


A request made after a trial, asking the court of appeals to decide whether the trial was conducted properly. One who apeals is called the appellant.


About appeals; an appellate court has the power to review the judgment of another lower court.


The subject of the inquiry, a job applicant or current employee who is the subject of an employment verification or reference.


A method of dispute resolution.


Equipped with some type of weapon.


A proceeding, in which an individual who is accused of committing a crime is brought into court, told of the charges and asked to plead guilty or not guilty.


Being behind in the payment of a debt.


The legal custody of a person with the intent to bring them before the court.


The malicious burning of a dwelling house or structure appurtenant to a dwelling house or a structure within the curtilage.


Unwanted or offensive physical contact with another person.


An act that is done with the intent to commit a crime but falls short of committing that crime.

Back to top


Bail / Bond Forfeiture – Non-conviction

The charges against the defendant are dropped. Not enough evidence to convict. The defendant forfeits or pays their bond in place of going to trial.


Security given for the release of a criminal defendant or witness from legal custody to ensure his appearance in court.


When a person or businesse that cannot pay their debts and seek the assistance of the court. Under the protection of the bankruptcy court, debtors may discharge their debts.


Use of force against another resulting in physical contact.

Bench Trial

Trial without a jury in which a judge decides the facts.


The act of marrying someone while legally married to another.


A surety or promise to act.

Break & Enter

The unlawful entry of a building or dwelling.


The payment and solicitation of a favor for official action.


A written statement submitted to the court by the attorneys in a case that explains or argues a part of the case.


Breaking and entering an inhabited dwelling to commit a crime.

Back to top


Cancelled test

A drug or alcohol test that has a problem and requires to be cancelled. A cancelled test is neither a positive nor a negative test.

Capital Offense

A crime punishable by death.


A judge's office.

Charge to the Jury

The judge's instruction to the jury concerning the law.

Check Kiting

Writing checks against an account with insufficient funds and depositing them in a second bank account when neither account has suufficient funds to cover the checks written.

Chief Judge

the judge who has a primary responsibility for the administration of a court.

Circumstantial Evidence

All evidence except eyewitness testimony.


Order issued by police or public officer to appear before the court to answer the charges contained in the citation, such as a traffic violation.


Collection of laws, rules and regulations issued by a local governing body, such as a County Code.

Collection site

A place selected by the employer where employees present themselves for the purpose of providing a urine specimen for a drug test.


Commonly refers to the act of confining a person to a mental facility, prison or other institution.


A written statement by the plaintiff stating the wrongs allegedly committed by the defendant.


When referring to court procedures and sentencing, concurrent means operating at the same time or covering the same matters.

Conditional Discharge – Non-conviction

The defendant has no finding of guilt. The court is discharging him/her from trial on special conditions that they must follow. If they do not abide by these conditions, the discharge may be revoked and the finding may become guilty.

Confirmation (or confirmatory) drug test

A second analytical procedure performed on a urine specimen to identify and quantify the presence of a specific drug.

Confirmed drug test

A confirmation test result received by an MRO from a laboratory.

Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA)

A bureau that gathers and provides information about individuals - such as if they pay their bills on time or have filed bankruptcy - to creditors, employers, and landlords. Companies that perform pre-employment screening services are also considered CRA’s and are governed by the FCRA, as are the employers that use background screening services.

Contempt (Civil, Criminal)

Conduct or actions that defy the authority of the court or impugn the dignity of the court. Any conduct which interferes with the administration of justice. Civil contempt usually refers to the failure to obey a court order and can last until compliance. Criminal Contempt refers mainly to actions that obstruct justice or attacks the integrity or dignity of the court.


To challenge.


An agreement between two or more persons.


The defendant is found guilty of the charges.


Legal advice; a term used to refer to lawyers in a case.


A claim that a defendant makes against a plaintiff.


Government entity authorized to resolve legal disputes.

Court of Appeals

An "intermediate" appellate court between the Supreme Court and state trial courts. Final decisions from a Circuit or Probate Court hearing may be appealed to the Court of Appeals.

Court of Limited Jurisdiction

Court that has authority to adjudicate cases of a certain kind or up to a limited amount, usually lesser offenses. (Opposite of Court of General Jurisdiction)

Court Supervision

Mainly in the State of Illinois, order to remain law abiding with no same or similar offense committed.

Court-Appointed Attorney

Legal counsel assigned by the court to represent an indigent criminal defendant. A court-appointed attorney is not necessarily a "free" attorney; the court can order that some or all of the attorney's bill be reimbursed.

Credit Card Fraud

Use, or attempted use of a credit card to purchase goods or services with the intent to avoid payment of such.

Credit Time Served

Refers to time spent in jail during pre-trial. If convicted and an active jail sentence imposed, this time can be credited to the sentence to satisfy in whole or in part.


A person or entity who gives credit for money or goods.

Crime Against Nature

Deviate sexual intercourse.

Criminal Case

A charge filed by a prosecutor against a defendant concerning violation of a criminal law. The act of violating a criminal law is an offense against the community, not a private wrong. Examples of criminal cases include theft and murder.

Criminal Complaint

In criminal law, a charge, preferred before a magistrate having jurisdiction, that a person named, has committed a specific offense, with an offer to prove the fact, to the end that a prosecution may be instituted.

Criminal Plea

The defendant’s response to a criminal charge (guilty, not guilty,or nolo contendere).


A regulation that forbids people from being outside during certain hours.

Back to top



Money paid by defendants in civil cases to compensate the plaintiffs for injuries.


A condition or situation likely to cause bodily harm.

Dead Docket

Attorney for the state agrees to take no further action in a case provided defendant remains law abiding with no same or similar offenses.

Deadly Weapon

A weapon designed to cause serious injury or death.


A person against whom a cause of action is taken.

Deferred Adjudication, Deferred Judgment

The final judgment is delayed for a period of time. If “probation” is completed without incident, the charges are usually dropped and the case is dismissed.


Knowingly misrepresent facts to cheat or trick.

Degree of a Crime

Classification assigned to a crime, depending on circumstances, for purposes of determining punishment. First degree is considered most serious than third; A is more serious than C. Degrees may be assigned to the actual crime.


The taking of an oral statement of a witness under oath, before trial.


The document and the process of informing an applicant/employee that he/she will be the subject of a background report.


Finally disposing of the cause without further consideration. May be voluntary or involuntary. When involuntary, there is usually lack of prosecution or failure to produce sufficient evidence.


The final settlement in the matter. Examples of disposed cases are those with a finding of guilt (conviction), innocence, or acquittal.


Driver's License Number


Date of Birth

Docket Record

A court’s official record of proceedings and calendar of upcoming cases.

Driving While Intoxicated

Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Complete intoxication is not required. Individual state statutes specify the blood alcohol content at which a person is presumed to be under the influence of intoxicating liquor.

Due Diligence

A reasonable and expected measure of attention taken for a particular action. Not measurable by an absolute standard, but dependant on the situation.

Due Process of Law

Procedures followed by law enforcement and courts to insure the protection of an individual’s rights as assigned by the Constitution.

Back to top



Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


The taking of another’s money or property by one entrusted with its possession, usually through employment.

Ex parte

On one side only. For example, in an Ex parte proceeding, only one party to the case is heard.


When a record of an offense is expunged it will not appear on a released criminal history. The record may be destroyed or sealed after a certain period of time. Records may be expunged in juvenile cases.


Obtaining another’s property by actual or threatened force, fear or violence.


The surrender of an individual accused or convicted of a crime by one state to another.

Back to top


Fair Credit Reporting Act

The federal law that regulates entities who are in the business of providing reports on consumers' credit standing, character and reputation (consumer reports). It has been expanded to regulate to include information derived from public records associated with consumers' criminal records and civil litigation histories as well.


Fair Credit Reporting Act

Federal Trade Commission.

The government agency responsible for the administration of the FCRA. This agency has issued many non-binding opinions interpreting the FCRA.


A serious offense carrying a penalty of incarceration from one year to life in a state prison, to the death penalty.

Final Adverse Action

Referring to the document and the process when a negative employment decision is made, the applicant/employee receives notice of the decision.

Forcible Entry

Entering or taking possession of property with force, threats or menacing conduct.


A broad term used to cover all kinds of acts. Generally, fraud is the commission of an act with the goal to benefit or gain advantage at another’s expense. A purposeful misrepresentation with the intent to deceive.


Federal Trade Commission.

Back to top



A request to the court to order a person or entity to turn over wages to satisfy a debt.

Grand Jury

A body of persons with the authority to investigate and accuse, but not to try cases. The grand jury will listen to and review evidence to see if it there are sufficient grounds to bring an individual to trial.

Grand Larceny

The theft of property over a specified value. Dollar amounts vary by state.


Flagrant, out of measure.

Gross Misdemeanor

Serious misdemeanor.


Final verdict. Having committed a crime.

Back to top


Habeas Corpus

A writ used to bring a prisoner before the court to determine the legality of his imprisonment.

Habitual Violator

To have committed the same offence three times. Can also be charged as a habitual offender.


Conduct, words, or actions directed at a person with the intent to annoy or disturb with no legitimate purpose.


Statements by a witness who did not see or hear the incident in question but heard about it from someone else. Usually not admissible as evidence in court.


To take control of a vehicle by intimidation, force or threatened force. Also, the theft of goods while in transit, as when transported in trucks.

Hit and Run

Leaving the scene of an accident prior to providing information to officers and others involved.


The killing of another human being. “Justifiable homicide” occurs in cases such as during the enforcement of law, and/or occurs without evil intent. “Excusable homicide” may occur by accident or in self-defense.

House Arrest

The confinement of an accused or convicted individual to their ome by an attached electronic monitoring device.

Hung Jury

A hung jury is one in which all jurors cannot reach a consensus required for a verdict.

Back to top



Facts used to determine whether a public record belongs to a subject, e.g., full name, DOB (Date of Birth), SSN (Social Security Number), DLN (Driver’s License Number), address, gender, physical description, identifying marks, et cetera.


Prohibited or unlawful.


A formal, written accusation made by the grand jury.


Violation of local ordinance or state statute usually resulting in a fine or limited period of incarceration.


A court order which prohibits a person from doing a specified act for a specified period of time.


Free from guilt.

Intoxicates, Intoxication

Reduction of physical or mental capabilities caused by the ingestion of an intoxicating substance such as alcohol or drugs.

Investigative Consumer Report

Under the FCRA, one of two official names for a background report. The other name is "consumer report." Most often the distinction between a "consumer report" and an "investigative consumer report" is that a "consumer report" contains only factual information while an "investigative consumer report" contains some opinions. Example: "Was s/he employed by your company?" This calls for a factual response. "How did s/he perform on the job?" This calls for an opinion.

Involuntary Dismissal

Dismissed due to lack of prosecution or lack of evidence.

Back to top



The final decision of the court regarding a claim or case.


The power of a court to question facts, apply law, make decisions and judgments.


Persons selected according to law and sworn to inquire of and declare a verdict on matters of fact.


Person under the age of 18.

Juvenile Delinquent

Person under the age of 18 who is guilty of committing a crime.

Back to top



Forcibly abducting or taking a person away.

Back to top



The unlawful taking of someone's personal property. Larceny is commonly classified as “petty” or “grand” depending on the value of the property. Dollar values to establish classifications of “petty” and “grand” may vary from state to state.

Legal Malice:

An act, committed without just cause or excuse, intended to inflict harm or cause death.

Lewd and Lascivious:

Obscene, indecent.


Defamation of another person through print, pictures, or signs.


A security interest in an asset.

Lis Pendens

A pending suit.


Remaining in a place for no apparent reason.

Back to top



Public officials, including judicial officers who have limited jurisdiction in criminal cases and civil causes.

Mail Fraud

The use of the mail system to commit a fraud.

Malice Aforethought

Planning to commit an unlawful act without just cause or excuse.


Negligence or incompetence on the part of a professional.


The unpremeditated killing of a person. Can be voluntary or involuntary, determined by circumstances. The feature distinguishing involuntary manslaughter from voluntary is the absence of intent to cause death.


The intentional infliction of injury on another which causes amputation, disfigurement or impairs the function of any part of the body.

Mental Illness

A disorder affecting thought or mood to the degree that it impairs judgment, the ability to reason or behavior.


Use of another person(s) assets or money for your own benefit.


A lawful act performed in a negligent, malicious or wrongful manner.


A trial which is terminated or declared invalid. Reasons for mistrial include misconduct on the part of the jury, defense team or the court, or illness on the part of the judge, jury or defendant. May be followed by a retrial on the same charges.


Unlawful killing with malice of forethought. Murder is willful, deliberate and premeditated, or done during the commission of a crime. This classification of crime is generally divided by degrees, murder in the first degree and murder in the second degree.

Back to top



An addictive drug, an opiate, which dulls the senses or induces sleep.


Failure to exercise care that a reasonable person would exercise in a similar situation. Flagrant and reckless disregard of the safety of others. Willful indifference.

No Probable Cause

There was not sufficient reason to bring case to trial.

Nolle Prosse, Nolle Prosequi

Not prosecuted - the abandonment or dismissal of a criminal charge by the prosecutor.

Nolo Contendre

Latin phrase used by a defendant to say “I do not wish to contest.” This plea in a criminal case has the legal effect of pleading guilty. See No Contest.

Back to top


Obstruction of Justice

anything that interferes with the administration of law and justice.

Obtain Property under False Pretense

The misrepresentation of the value of something. Passing bad check.


A violation of the law.


A judge's written explanation of a decision of the court.


A written or oral demand issued by the court.

Order for Arrest (OFA/FTA)

An order issued by the court directing law eforcement to take a person into custody. Aslo a bench warrant for those who fail to appear for court.

Back to top



Recruiting or soliciting a prostitute.


Release from jail or prison before the full sentence has been served.

Parole Violation

An act that does not conform to the terms of parole.

Partial Name Match Only

Only a partial match of the subject’s name is established—with no additional matching identifiers also established, such as a DOB, DLN or SSN.


Deliberately making false

Permissible Purpose

Under the FCRA, this is a legal purpose for obtaining a background report.

Personal Identifiable Information

Information that potentially could be utilized to commit identity theft, including but not limited to name, address, Social Security Number and date of birth.

Personal Property

Property other than land or real estate. Cars, clothing and jewelry are examples.


Personal Identifiable Information. Information that potentially could be utilized to commit identity theft, including but not limited to name, address, Social Security Number and date of birth.


The person who files the complaint in a civil suit.


An answer to the charges; a declaration made in open court.

Plea Bargain

A plea of guilt to a lesser offense in return for a lighter sentence.

Possible Record

A potential record requiring further research, due to the fact that it may or may not be a Strict Match with the subject, or may or may not otherwise be reportable.

Power of Attorney

Document granting a person the authority to act as agent or attorney-in-fact for the person granting the POA. It is revocable and automatically ends upon the death of the grantor.

Prayer for Judgment, 1st Offense (NC):

Asking the court to give leniency. No finding of guilt by the court.

Pre-Trial Intervention

An extensive background check to help determine if charges will be pressed.

Probable Cause

Sufficient evidence to make a reasonable person believe that a crime has been committed.


Relief of all or part of a sentence on the promise of proper conduct.


To charge someone with a crime. A prosecutor tries a criminal case on behalf of the state.

Back to top



To overthrow, to make void, annul.


To release your interest or rights to a claim or property.

Back to top


Reckless Endangerment

An act which does or could cause injury to another, not necessarily with intent.

Remedying the Effects of Identity Theft

Prepared by the Federal Trade Commission, this document must be given to applicants/employees who believe they are the victim of identity theft


Results can be legally reported to an End-User—the standard being whether the information complies with applicable law, such as the FCRA and state consumer reporting laws.

Restraining Order

An order prohibiting a specified action until such time that a hearing on an application for an injunction can be held.

Back to top



A judgment of punishment for a criminal act.


Social Security Number


Eliminated or expunged.

Summary of Rights

A Summary of Your Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Prepared by the Federal Trade Commission, this document must be attached to a background report being provided to an applicant/employee.

Suspended Sentence

Deferment of punishment usually over a period of probation.

Back to top


Theft of Services

Obtaining services without consent through deception, threat, tampering, etc.


Theft by using someone else’s information, credit card, check, or something similar.

Back to top


Unlawful Entry

Entry without force and without permission by means of fraud or other wrongful act.

User Certification

A document provided by the background screening company which must be signed by the employer before the screening company will provide background reports to the employer.

User of Consumer Reports

An employer who, as part of an employment decision, considers the information in a background report.


To forge another’s name.

Back to top



Issued no judgement decision in a case.


The geographic area where a court has jurisdiction. Change of Venue refers to the transfer of a case from one jurisdiction to another.


The outcome of a criminal case. Usually the decision reached by a jury of either "innocent" or "guilty".

Vicarious Liability

When one responsible party is liable for the actions of another party, such as parent liability for a child's actions.

Back to top



To voluntarily give up the rights to something.


A written order for the arrest of a person. A judge can issue a warrant, based on probable cause, to search a specific location for evidence to be used in court.


A person called to give testimony in court.


A formal judicial order requiring a person to do something.

Back to top



Someone under the age of 18. Also known as a minor or juvenile.