A Guide to Common Background Check Terms

Have you ever been confused by the terminology on a criminal background check?  Well, you’re not alone. Reading a criminal background check is not always straightforward. Depending on the court and the jurisdiction, the terminology may differ. To help you decipher this lingo, InCheck has put together a list of the top criminal background check terms you should know.

Deferred Adjudication/Judgment: A deferral is not a conviction. When a defendant accepts a deferred prosecution agreement, the defendant is typically required to perform certain requirements under the agreement (i.e. complete community service, counseling, pay back fines/costs etc.). If the defendant successfully completes the requirements under the agreement, the charges are formally dropped, clearing the incident from the defendant’s record.

Please be aware that the terminology for deferrals depends on the jurisdiction. For example, in Illinois the term “Supervision” is a deferral, while Maryland and Delaware label deferrals as “Probation Before Judgment.” Although the terms differ their meaning is similar.

Probation Revocation: A probation revocation occurs when the defendant commits violates the terms of his or her probation order. When a probation revocation occurs, the defendant may receive jail time or additional requirements may be tacked on to the defendant’s probation term.

Probation Violation: A probation violation occurs when the defendant has violated his or her probation however the court does not revoke the defendant’s probation. Instead the court will typically extend the term of probation.

Disposition Date: The disposition date is the date the defendant plead guilty and the plea of guilty was accepted by the court.

Sentence Imposed and Stayed, Placed on Probation: This phrase is typically follows the term of confinement. This phrase means that court has sentenced the defendant to a specific term (Imposed) but has ordered that the sentence not be carried out (Stayed). The defendant will receive probation and if the defendant violates the rules/conditions of probation and probation is revoked, the sentence originally stayed will be imposed.

Sentence Withheld, Placed on Probation: Sentence withheld occurs when a defendant is placed on probation, but no sentence is assessed. Instead the defendant is placed on probation under conditions set by the court. If the defendant violates his or her probation and probation is revoked, the defendant will return to court for sentencing.

Extended Supervision: Extended supervision means that the defendant has completed the terms of his or her prison sentence and released to the supervision of a Department of Corrections agent for a certain period of time. The duration of extended supervision is determined in the original criminal sentence.

Confinement Consecutive to Confinement in Other Case: If the confinement term of one case is to run consecutive to the confinement term of another case, then the confinement terms will begin one after the other.

Confinement Concurrent to Confinement in Other Case: If the confinement term of one case is to run concurrently to the confinement term of another case, then the confinement terms are running at the same time.

Disclaimer: This blog is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.