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Criminal Justice 12: Terminology

Your word choices demonstrate your commitment to professionalism and accuracy.

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Criminal Justice 12: Terminology

  1. 1. CRIMINAL JUSTICE REPORT WRITING THE HOW AND WHY Part 12 Criminal Justice Terminology in Police Reports
  2. 2. CRIMINAL JUSTICE REPORT WRITING THE HOW AND WHY Part 12 Criminal Justice Terminology in Police Reports
  3. 3. Criminal justice terminology is useful when it…  accurately represents what happened at the scene  demonstrates that you’re following procedures and regulations  testifies to your professionalism and training
  4. 4. Criminal justice terminology is not useful when it…  makes you sound out-of-date and out- of-touch with modern practices  wastes time  transforms a simple report into something complex and confusing  substitutes pompous words for ordinary language
  5. 5. Some criminal justice terminology is useful:  distinguishing between burglary (breaking and entering) and robbery (use of force)  knowing that verbal refers to both written and spoken language (use oral for speech)  using expressions like bias crime, DUI, aggravated assault, and chain of custody correctly
  6. 6. But some criminal justice terminology should be avoided:  words that cause confusion or waste time (ascertained, answered in the affirmative, respective)  language that substitutes jargon for normal speech (Baker acted, Mirandized)  word choices that make simple information hard to follow (abovementioned, Victim 1, Witness 2)
  7. 7. Be sensitive when you speak or write about minorities and special groups. Avoid:  sexually charged terms like babe, stacked, broad, and bombshell for women  offensive terms like crippled, crazy, demented, and retarded for physical and mental conditions  ethnic, religious and sexual slurs
  8. 8. Use language precisely and carefully. For example, don’t use advise (counsel) when you mean tell (inform). Incorrect: Sedaki advised me that he left for work at 7:30 eachmorning. Correct: Sedaki told me that he left for work at 7:30 that morning. Correct: I advised Pallatin to get medical attention for her injuries.
  9. 9. Make clear, time-saving word choices: Poor Word Choice Better at the present time now for the purpose of for yellow in color yellow the month of September September 9 a.m. in the morning 9 a.m. for a period of two weeks for two weeks relative to about
  10. 10. Avoid generalizations whenever possible:  not I processed the area but I photographed three sets of footprints  not I contacted Witness 2 but I telephoned George Vishnati  not I Mirandized her but I used my Miranda card to inform her of her rights
  11. 11. Ordinary words can be troublesome. Do you know the difference between:  your and you’re  to, too, and two  it’s and its  who’s and whose  passed and past  their, they’re, there …and similar words?
  12. 12. Strive for professionalism in everything you write:  keep learning about words  refer to a dictionary when needed  use the spellchecker and grammar checker on your computer  never stop expanding your word knowledge
  13. 13. To Learn More: Criminal Justice Report Writing is available in softcover ($17.95) from and in a variety of ebook and Apple formats (Kindle, Nook, SONY etc.) for $11.99 from Read a free sample online!
  14. 14. Find FREE report writing resources online at