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Criminal Justice Reference - Terminology, Definitions and Study Guides

Criminal Justice Terms, Glossaries and Definitions

  • Organized Crime: This page lists definitions of the term “organized crime” by different state authorities and legal scholars in the United States and other countries.
  • Environmental Crime: This page defines environmental crime and gives an overview of the history of environmental crime and related U.S. laws starting with the Clean Air Act of 1970.
  • Trafficking in Human Beings: INTERPOL defines the five types of trafficking in human beings: trafficking women for sexual exploitation, smuggling people, trafficking children for sexual exploitation, trafficking people for forced labor, and trafficking in human organs. The site also gives more in-depth information on these crimes.
  • Definitions of Criminal Offenses: This site is a glossary of criminal offense terminology, such as “arson” and “burglary”, as defined under Maine law.
  • Criminolology Glossary: A glossary of criminology terms compiled by a professor of Sociology.
  • Crime Definitions: Definitions of over 40 common crimes and links to state statutes concerning them.
  • Glossary of Criminal Justice Terms: Definitions of common criminal justice terms, such as “certiorari” and “mens rea”.
  • Glossary of Legal Terms: Alphabetical list of criminal justice terms and their definitions.
  • Crime Code Definitions: Definitions of crimes, in accordance to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program.
  • Encyclopedia of Criminal Justice Terms: Definitions of criminal justice terminology; site also includes flowcharts of misdemeanors and felonies.

Famous Court Cases

  • McCulloch v. Maryland: This Supreme Court case found that state law was subordinate to federal law.
  • Dred Scott v. Sanford: This Supreme Court case found that blacks, both slave and free, were not U.S. citizens.
  • Plessy v. Ferguson: The Supreme Court found in this case that “separate but equal” laws for blacks and whites were constitutional, forming the legal rationale behind segregation.
  • Schenck v. United States: The Supreme Court found that the freedom of speech could be limited in cases of “clear and present danger”.
  • Powell v. Alabama: In this Supreme Court case, the Court ruled that legal counsel is required in death penalty cases.
  • NAACP v. Alabama: The Supreme Court upheld the rights of assembly and free speech in relation to private groups and ruled that private groups could keep their membership rosters private.
  • Abington School District v. Schempp: The Supreme Court ruled that school-sponsored prayer in the classroom was unconstitutional.
  • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka: The Supreme Court found that racial segregation’s discriminatory nature violated the 14th amendment of the United States constitution. This case led to the de-segregation of school systems and public institutions. 
  • Miranda v. Arizona: In this Supreme Court case, the right to avoid self-incrimination and the rights of an individual accused of a crime were defined.
  • Roe v. Wade: The Supreme Court defined the right to privacy to include a woman’s right to procure a legal abortion.

The Criminal Justice System in the United States

  • United States Courts: The U.S. Courts website provides information on federal courts, federal rules and policies, judges, and statistics.
  • United States Sentencing Commission: This commission establishes the federal court system sentencing guidelines. The commission website provides federal sentencing statistics.
  • Judicial Procedure: This site gives the full text of Title 28 of the U.S. Code, which details the organization of courts, the Department of Justice, court officers, jurisdiction, and procedure.
  • The Federal Bureau of Prisons: This website gives reports on the inmates of federal prisons, prison conditions, drug treatment programs, education programs, and recidivism rates.
  • Federal Criminal Code: Title 18 of the U.S. Code details the federal definition of crimes, federal criminal procedure, federal policy on prisons and prisoners and the correction of youth offenders, and witness immunity.
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms: Part of the U.S. Department of Justice, ATF partners with state and local law enforcement agencies to investigate arms trafficking, the illegal use of explosives, arson, bombings, terrorism, and the illegal sale of alcohol and tobacco.
  • U.S. Marshals Service: The U.S. Marshals is the country’s oldest law enforcement agency and functions as the federal court system’s enforcement arm. The Marshals protect judicial officials, apprehend fugitives, administer the witness protection program, and transports and houses prisoners.

Rights of Citizens: The Bill of Rights

Criminal Justice Statistics 

  • Bureau of Justice Statistics: The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics provides statistics and trends in federal criminal cases. Statistics include the number of investigations initiated, persons arrested, investigations concluded, defendants charged and sentenced, and the number of prisoners entering and exiting federal prison.
  • Criminal Justice Statistics: Statistics from the National Institute of Corrections. Documents include reports and statistics on sentencing and corrections by state, mortality in jails, juvenile justice and court statistics by state, and probation and parole.
  • Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics: Statistics and tables on crime, arrests, seizures, prosecutions, and jail sentences.
  • Federal Statistics: Statistics on convictions and investigations by the FBI, DEA, IRS, ATF, and DHS.
  • Juvenile Statistics: Statistics on juvenile crimes, arrests, convictions, and sentences.
  • Statistical Abstract: The U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract on law enforcement, courts, and prisons. The Abstract is a summary of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other federal agencies.
  • Victim Statistics: Statistics from the National Center for Victims of Crime on crimes from human trafficking to elder victimization. 

Criminal Justice Information by State