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Criminal Justice System Glossary

This glossary is an attempt to define many of the terms used by various segments of the local criminal justice system including the Municipal and Common Pleas Courts, Prosecutor’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, Sheriff Department, Probation Departments, Clerk of Courts’ Offices and other criminal justice and community partners.


alternative disposition
  • DIVERSION – a voluntary option which provides alternative criminal case processing for a defendant charged with a crime that ideally, upon successful completion of an individualized program plan, results in a dismissal of the charge
  • DRUG COURT – treatment-based docket that takes into account those problems occasioned by substance abuse/addiction.
  • EARLY INTERVENTION PROGRAM (EIP) – a program designed to intervene early in the criminal justice process for non-violent, eligible defendants charged with low-level felonies that are in need of substance abuse services. The criminal defendant with substance abuse issues may avoid conviction for related crimes by successfully completing treatment and other conditions (ORC 2951.041)
  • INTERVENTION IN LIEU (ILC) – Historically, a statutory program that permits certain criminal defendants to avoid conviction for related crimes by successfully completing substance abuse treatment. As of the passing of HB 86 in July 2011, completion of mental health treatment, with or without substance abuse treatment, also qualifies. (ORC 2951.041)

arraignment: Crim.R. 10; in felony cases, the first common pleas court appearance following the issuance of an indictment or information, which informs the accused of the charges contained in the indictment or information and a plea is entered. For cases proceeding with the traditional method of case processing, at arraignment, an attorney is assigned to indigents, bond is set and the judge is assigned.

arrest: taken into police custody


BCI&I (Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation): a State agency that supports law enforcement by providing key services free of charge. BCI maintains the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) and the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS).

bindover filing date: date on which a municipal court transfers a case to common pleas court thereby terminating the municipal court’s jurisdiction of the case.


case: all complaints filed in a municipal court and all proceedings in a common pleas court that are initiated by charging either through a complaint, information or indictment; for Ohio Supreme Court reporting purposes, a “case” involves only one defendant, whereas in common pleas court, a case may involve one or more co-defendants who are accused of the same/similar charges.

CBCF (Community-Based Correctional Facility): Community Based Correctional Facilities (CBCFs) are residential programs that provide comprehensive programming for offenders on felony probation. CBCFs provide a wide range of programming addressing offender needs such as chemical dependency, education, employment, and family relationships. A Judicial Corrections Board, comprised of local Common Pleas Court Judges, is responsible for oversight of the facility. (ORC 2301.51)

CCH (Computerized Criminal History): a database of criminal records provided by the Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS).

Charge: the formal allegation of a criminal offense pending against the defendant.

CIF (Case Information Form): a form prepared by law enforcement that accompanies initial reports; the CIF number is used to file a felony case. Upon indictment, a CR number replaces the CIF number.

CCJIS (Civil and Criminal Justice Information System): information system used by the Common Pleas Court; informally referred to as Proware.

community control / community control sanctions: punishment for criminal offenses can include more than one type of sanction in order to address the goals of sentencing. When the court is not required to impose a prison term, the court may sentence a defendant to any community control sanction or combination of community control sanctions the duration of which shall not exceed five years for any one offense. The term “community control” became part of Ohio Revised Code as part of the Sentencing Reform Bill (SB2) in 1996. It is often used as a substitute for what was previously termed “probation” (ORC 2929.15, 2929.17).

complaint: a written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged. It shall also state the numerical designation of the applicable statute or ordinance. It shall be made upon oath before any person authorized by law to administer oaths.

continuum of sanctions: a wide variety of residential, non-residential, and financial options that judges use in criminal sentencing, including traditional probation supervision and numerous other restrictions administered by the local court. Community control is used on felons when a prison term is not imposed and on misdemeanants in lieu of or in addition to a jail term. Residential community control sanctions include community-based correctional facilities, halfway houses, and others. Non-residential options include community supervision, drug and alcohol treatment, house arrest, electronic monitoring, community service, and the like. Financial sanctions include fines, restitution, and various reimbursements. Persons facing mandatory prison terms (e.g., for murder, high level sex and drug offenses, felonies committed with firearms, certain repeat offenders, etc.) or mandatory jail terms (e.g., for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) are not eligible for community control, other than financial sanctions.

conviction: the point in time when a criminal defendant is found guilty of an offense.

Court Supervised Release (CSR): a discretionary program of the Adult Probation Department’s Pretrial Services Unit that the Common Pleas Court may add as a condition of bond. The program provides bail investigation and supervision of defendants charged with felonies, who prior to disposition, are released into the community under supervision with a personal or financial bond. The program goals include improving the release/retention decision process, identifying those eligible for alternatives to incarceration, and monitoring pretrial arrestees for the benefit of public safety. Authority derives from Rule 46 of the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure.


defendant: a person against whom a criminal action is brought via arrest or the issuance of a formal criminal charge

direct indictment: direct presentation of a case to the Grand Jury prior to a preliminary hearing in the municipal court.

discovery: the exchange of information and evidence between the prosecution and defense (Crim.R.16).

dismissal: a post-filing / post-indictment / post-information termination of a criminal charge(s) via court order upon request of the state or the defendant, or upon the Court’s own motion. A dismissal can occur before, during or after trial (See Crim.R. 29, Crim.R. 48).

disposition: the outcome of a particular stage in a proceeding or of the entire proceeding (final disposition).

diversion: Pretrial diversion/intervention is a voluntary option that provides alternative criminal case processing for a defendant charged with a crime that ideally, upon successful completion of an individualized program plan, results in a dismissal of the charge.(ORC 2935.36)


Early Disposition Conference (EDC): in Common Pleas Court, an appearance that occurs between Initial Appearance and Arraignment wherein the state / prosecution and defense counsel explore early case resolution. EDC is an alternative to traditional case processing and may include negotiation of a plea, decision to proceed by information, alternative disposition or transfer to traditional mode of case processing.

Early Disposition Hearing: a common pleas court procedure at which the parties may agree to alternative case processing.

Early Case Management (ECM): the project resulting from recommendations by the Justice Management Institute (JMI) to Cuyahoga County justice partners to make key reforms to the criminal justice system.


felony: Under Ohio Revised Code, the general name for the most serious criminal offenses. Adults and juveniles may be charged with felonies. In Ohio, felonies are generally classified by the punishment:

Felony Punishments 
Degree Prison Time Max Fine
1st 3-10 years $20,000
2nd 2-8 years $15,000
3rd 1-5 years $10,000
4th 6-18 months $5,000
5th 6-12 months $2,500

In addition, there are several felony offenses, like murder, rape, and firearm specifications, that carry specific prison terms not listed above.

FTA: Failure To Appear for a court-related proceeding

FTR: Failure To Report to a supervision authority

filing date: In Common Pleas Court, the date a document is submitted to the Clerk’s Office for inclusion in the record. Also used to describe a bind-over date from a municipal to the common pleas.


Grand Jury: a body of individuals summoned according to law, who upon hearing evidence presented by the state determines the existence of probable cause that a particular crime or crimes has been committed by a person. A grand jury issues a “no bill” if probable cause is not found and issues a “true bill” if probable cause is found.


habeus corpus: the procedure of obtaining a judicial determination of the legality of an individual’s custody


IMAC (Incarceration Management and Cost Recovery System): information system used by the Sheriff’s Department and Cuyahoga County Corrections Center (County Jail).

Indicted Bindover: in the Common Pleas Court’s information system (CJIS), a label indicating that an individual has been indicted after being bound over from a municipal court

Indicted Direct: in the Common Pleas Court’s information system (CJIS), a label indicating that an individual has been indicted 1) by direct presentation to the Grand Jury without having been an arrested or charged; or 2) arrested and charged but indicted in Common Pleas Court before the preliminary hearing in the Municipal Court (sometimes referred to as a “Nolle Indict”)

indictment: a formal accusation/charge based upon a finding of probable cause by a grand jury; a “true bill”; an indictment is considered “secret” when the identity of the accused and the indictment remain undisclosed until the time of arrest

information: a written accusation of a felony crime signed by a prosecutor charging a person with the commission of the crime; an alternative to starting a felony prosecution in which a defendant waives presentation to the Grand Jury, and thereby agrees to proceed by information.

Initial Hearing / Initial Appearance (IA): Per Criminal Rule 5, the first opportunity to appear before a judge after arrest to advise of charges, set bond and schedule a preliminary hearing

inmate: a person confined in a prison or jail


jail: local detention facility under the authority of the County or local municipal governments. Jail can be certified for short or long-term stays. Jails are generally utilized for pretrial or pre-hearing detention, short-term sentences and by necessity for holding while waiting for availability of community services and placements

jail days: any portion of a calendar day in which an inmate is confined. Per ORC 2949.08, a person shall be considered to have been confined for a day if the person was confined for any period or periods of time totaling more than eight hours during that day.

judicial release: (R.C. 2929.20); suspension of the remainder of a stated prison or jail term by the sentencing judge. The criminal defendant may then be placed under community control supervision (formerly called “shock probation”).

Justice Matters: an information and case management system used by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office. The system is also used as a portal for access to discovery materials and for the electronic submission of complaints and indictment to the County Clerk of Courts.



LEADS (Law Enforcement Agencies Data System): a database of law enforcement information, including arrests and convictions

Local Incarceration Program (LIP): a program whereby a felon may qualify for incarceration in a local jail or community based correctional facility as an alternative to a prison sentence.


misdemeanor: Under Ohio law, the general name for a lower level, criminal offense. Adults and juveniles may be charged with misdemeanors. Although not as serious as a felony, a misdemeanor conviction can still lead to fines, community control supervision or jail time. In Ohio, misdemeanors are classified by the punishment:

Misdemeanor Punishments 
Degree Max Jail Time Max Fine
1st 6 months $1,000
2nd 90 days $750
3rd 60 days $500
4th 30 days $250
Minor No jail $150

In addition, several misdemeanor offenses, such as operating under the influence, carry higher maximum fines and additional penalties.

mitt pending: an abbreviation of “Mittimus Pending” Once a preliminary hearing has been scheduled in a municipal court, the period of time waiting for the hearing to occur.


No Bill: a declination of probable cause by a grand jury resulting in no indictment.

nolle: “nolle prosequi”; a Latin term meaning “no prosecution”, a dismissal of a count or charge by the state


offender: a term describing an individual convicted of a crime that is currently under community control supervision. Based on the presumption of innocence, an individual is referred to as a defendant before conviction.

offense date: in the common pleas court, the date an offense occurred; if the offense occurred over a range of dates, the last date of offense is used in time calculations. If only a month is given, the midpoint is used.

ORAS (Ohio Risk Assessment System): See “risk assessment”.


parole: the release from prison of an offender prior to the completion of a prison term, whereby the offender is subject to supervision by the Adult Parole Authority, and is subject to return to prison to serve the unexpired term of imprisonment if the conditions of release are violated. For offenses committed since the enactment of Senate Bill 2 on July 1, 1996, parole is limited to persons serving certain life sentences.

pilot: a program initiated on a trial basis and not formally adopted as a permanent method of case management

plea: a defendant’s answer to a criminal charge of guilty, not guilty, no contest, or not guilty by reason of insanity

plea agreement: a negotiated settlement between the prosecution and defense resulting in a guilty or no contest plea to the charge or to a reduced negotiated charge, or other case disposition such as placement into a diversion program

Post Release Control (PRC): A period of supervision for an offender sentenced under Senate Bill 2 that occurs after the offender has served the Stated Prison Term. The sentencing judge must include Post Release Control in the offender's sentence in order for the Parole Board to impose this period of supervision.

preliminary hearing: a probable cause hearing held to determine if enough evidence exists to bind an individual over to the common pleas court

pretrial hearing: a generic term relating to any court scheduled event occurring before the trial of a criminal casein common pleas court; in municipal court, a term related to a meeting of prosecution and defense about a case

Pretrial Services: an arm of the County Adult Probation Department which 1) interviews those persons accused of a felony crime for purposes of determining bond recommendation and program eligibility, and 2) provides pretrial supervision for these defendants when court-ordered as a condition of bond.

prison: detention facilities under the authority of a State or Federal agency that are designed to hold individuals convicted of a felony crime or community control violation and sentenced to a period of confinement.

Prisoner Board and Care: costs associated with providing inmates with room, food, medical and other reasonable maintenance expenses. The four main cost categories are as follows:
  • Amount spent for medical costs for County Jail inmates receiving care outside of the County Jail
  • Amount spent for medical costs for suburban jail inmates receiving care outside of a jail
  • Amount spent for per diem cost for felony inmates housed someplace other than the County Jail
  • Amount spent for per diem cost for misdemeanor inmates sentenced under the State Code and housed someplace other than the County Jail

probation: a court-mandated period of supervision imposed upon a criminal defendant as a sentencing sanction in lieu of or in addition to incarceration (ORC Chapter 2951). Probation supervision is one of several community control sanctions used in sentencing.



recidivism: the act of a person repeating criminal behavior after they have either experienced negative consequences of that behavior, or have been treated or trained to extinguish that behavior. How recidivism is defined has a substantial impact on the identified rate of recidivism, but there is currently no universally accepted method of measurement. The three measurements usually tracked to identify the overall rate of recidivism are: 1) re-arrest for a new misdemeanor or felony offense; 2) reconviction on those new charges; and 3) re-imprisonment or sentence to another court-imposed sanction such as probation, a diversionary program, or a fine for a new offense.

REDSS (Regional Enterprise Data Sharing System): A computer-based criminal justice information system designed for use by criminal justice agencies in and surrounding Cuyahoga County. The REDSS computer system contains a communications network and central repository of criminal justice information. It provides access to the statewide Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS) and the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) on driver’s licenses, motor vehicles, stolen/recovered property, wanted and missing persons, and criminal records.

Re-Entry Court (REEC): A specialized docket of felony cases introduced in Common Pleas Court in 2007 that offers a one-year program in a coordinated, stepwise approach, requiring regular court appearances and offering services and other incentives to increase the chances of successful re-integration into the community after release from prison. Based on the Drug Court model, a dedicated Re-Entry Court Docket Judge manages the caseload and requires participants to attend regular court appearances, participate in required treatment, trainings, needed ancillary services, and urine testing. For non-violent inmates in the general prison population identified as eligible and interested, judicial release is the mechanism to transfer offenders into the Re-Entry Court program.

remand: The placing of a person into custody; also the referral of a case from a higher court to a lower court requiring the lower court to take an action as directed by the higher court.

repeat offender: A repeat offender is a criminal previously convicted of a crime who commits a new crime.

risk assessment: an evidence-based practice of employing an assessment tool predictive of recidivism at multiple points in the criminal justice system. In 2009, the Ohio Risk Assessment System (ORAS) was developed and validated by the University of Cincinnati, Center for Criminal Justice Research through a contract with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. The tool provides effective classification to separate Ohio offenders into risk groups based on their likelihood to recidivate, identifies dynamic risk factors that can be used to prioritize programming needs, and identifies potential barriers to treatment. Risk assessment does not measure dangerousness of an individual.

recusal: disqualification of a judge or jury by reason of prejudice or conflict of interest; a judge can be recused by objections of either party or judges can disqualify themselves.

Riverside decision: (County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44 (1991). A U.S. Supreme Court case delineating what can be considered a reasonable amount of time to detain an individual without a warrant; the resulting decision was that 48 hours is considered reasonable.


secret indictment: an indictment returned by the grand jury in which the identity of the accused and the indictment remain undisclosed until the time of arrest

S.P.A.N. (Suburban Police Anti-Crime Network): a regional police organization that shares resources amongst the member communities including Gates Mills, Highland Heights, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Heights, Mayfield Village and Richmond Heights

straight release: an arresting agency’s decision to release an arrestee without filing charges. Investigation of the case may still proceed and may result in a direct presentation to the Grand Jury and indictment at a later date, and/or a future arrest and charging.

S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons And Tactics): In addition to S.P.A.N. and W.E.B., several other police departments in Cuyahoga County have S.W.A.T. teams, often in partnership with arresting agencies in adjacent jurisdictions.


  • COURT: the point when a defendant is sentenced, acquitted or the case is dismissed, or a warrant is issued for failure to appear
  • PROSECUTOR: the pre-indictment termination of a criminal charge
  • PROBATION: the point in time when the term of probation supervision ends

True Bill: Grand Jury statement that the charges contained in an indictment are supported by probable cause



verdict: the decision of a judge or jury as to whether a defendant is guilty of a particular charge


W.E.B. (Westshore Enforcement Bureau): a team of specially trained police officers from the Northeast Ohio cities of Bay Village, Rocky River, Fairview Park, North Olmsted, Lakewood and Westlake that will respond to any incident where special weapons and tactics are needed within the member jurisdictions.

  • COURT:
  • PROSECUTOR: in common pleas court, the termination of a criminal charge or complaint prior to indictment/information

withdrawal of plea: the point in time when a criminal defendant evidences a change of heart such that he or she reconsiders a previous decision and no longer wishes to take the course of action predicated on such previous decision And, if appropriate, the court permits such an action by the defendant.




This document was produced by a workgroup comprised of representation from several local criminal justice entities. Please advise of corrections or requests for additional terms by contacting Loretta Ryland at