TRICKY TERMS DEFINED: Clearing Up Your Background Check

One of the things we pride ourselves on most at InfoQuest is the clarity we offer to our clients. In the ever-changing worlds of Human Resources and Consumer Reporting, the last thing you need weighing you down is an area of confusion on a background check. Take a look at some of the trickier terms we find in our reports and what they mean:

Acquittal – Judgment that a criminal defendant has not been proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Adjudicated Guilty – The defendant has been found guilty of the charges.

Adjudication Withheld – The withholdings of the rendering of a judgment of guilty or non-adjudication of guilt (it’s a non-conviction!)

Aggregate – Accumulated amount.

Alford Plea – When a defendent enters a plea of guilty without making an admission of guilt.

ARD – Accelerated Rehab Disposition. Common in Pennsylvania, this is similar to probation. The difference is the sentence has dismissal/expungement eligibility providing all conditions and compliances set by the judge are met. So unlike probation, ARD is a non-conviction.

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

Conditional Discharge – The defendent has no finding of guilt. The court is discharging him/her from trial on special conditions that they must abide by. If the conditions are not met, the discharge may be revoked and changed to guilty.

Credit Time Served – Time spent in jail after the initial arrest but before the court appearance date. If in court there is an additional order of confinement, this time could be credited to their sentence.

Default Judgment – A judgment rendered because of the defendant’s failure to answer or appear.

Deferred Judgment – The defendant has no finding of guilt. The judgment is set aside for a deferred amount of time and the defendant must comply with conditions given. The case can be dismissed depending on county/state if the defendant completes all requirements.

Dismissed with Prejudice/Leave – The dismissal of any action with the understanding that the complaintant can sue or file charges again on the same cause of action.

Dismissed without Prejudice/Leave – Final disposition barring the right to file charges again or sue on the same cause of action.

Diversion Program – The setting aside of criminal prosecution in to special programs or educating classes without the stigma of a criminal conviction. If all conditions are adhered to the case may be dismissed.

DWLR – Driving while license revoked.

Extradition Policy – The surrendering or transfer of a criminal by one city, state, or country to another to answer to charges accused or convicted.

Fraud Remains Writing – Intent to destroy or fraud an application of some kind.

Fugitive File – Found in Virginia, this means the case has not been to trial.

Guilty in Absentia – The jury has found the defendant guilty without his having appeared in court.

Habeas Corpus – A writ that is used to bring a prisoner before the court to determine the legality of his imprisonment. It may also be used to bring a person in custody before the court to give testimony or to be prosecuted.

Ignored – A non-conviction where the case never went to trial and was ignored by the state.

Injunction – An order of the court prohibiting (or compelling) the performance of a specific act to prevent irreparable damage or injury.

Ishmell Order – Issued when a person misses a court date and has a valid reason.

Municipal Reprimand – A downgraded case, sent back to a lower court for further proceedings. These cases are usually felonies that are dropped to a misdemeanor.

Nolle Prosse/Prossequi – Literally defined as “Not Prosecuted.”

Nolo Contendre – Literally defined as “No Contest.”

Other – A non-conviction where the defendant is given special provisions for one year to abide by since this is a first offense. If no further violation of the same nature, the case is closed.

Prayer for Judgment – Mostly found in North Carolina, this is a non-conviction for first offenders where the offender is ordered by the judge to remain law-abiding with no same or similar violations. Court costs or fines may still be imposed despite the finding of non-guilt.

Process Other – Defendant was not charged on this count due to being charged for another count.

Quashed – Dismissed, to overthrow or make void.

Responsible – This is actually a NON-CONVICTION where the defendent is still held responsible for the payment of fees or fines for the crime. Often found in minor violations and traffic tickets.

Sequester – To separate. Sometimes juries are isolated from outside influences during deliberations.

STET – Common in Maryland. Defined as “put on the shelf.” The setting aside of judgment or further proceedings of a case for a period of time pending certain specified conditions set forth by the judge are adhered to.

Writ – A formal written command issued from the court, requiring the performance of a specific act.

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