Criminal Record Non-Conviction Terms And Definitions

Multiple terms indicate that a criminal charge is a non-conviction. The terms used in any given court jurisdiction around the country can vary while essentially meaning the same thing. The following terms are examples of commonly used court rulings that mean a case is a straight non-conviction, or a non-conviction without stipulations:

  • Not Guilty

  • Dismissed

  • Nolle Prosequi (Nolle Prosse)

  • No Bill

  • No True Bill

  • No Action

  • Acquitted

Certain geographic areas use other  specific terms

  • Stricken Off without Leave to Reinstate (Illinois)

  • No Information Filed (Florida)

  • Not Responsible (North Carolina)

Some of those terms mean the same thing, while others mean things very similar. They can offer clues as to when a court decided on the non-conviction. A good example is Nolle Prosequi, which usually occurs very soon after a case is filed and probably even before an indictment. The term Nolle Prosequi loosely means “We do not wish to prosecute”. On the other end of the spectrum an Acquitted ruling could come much later in the chain of events most likely after a trial.

Dismissed, the catch-all, occurs in different time periods throughout a case.

Whatever the scenario, under each of these terms, the end result was that the subject was not convicted and there is nothing the named defendant owes to the court.

There are some judgments that are equivalent to a non-conviction but have stipulations. This occurs when a court sentences a defendant but does not consider the judgment a conviction.Even though the defendant served a sentence they wouldn’t have to disclaim conviction.

Probation is usually a part of this sentencing along with the possibility of fines and sometimes even short jail terms.

A guilty plea or nolo contendre (no contest) plea can be associated with the cases where a court decides to sentence but not convict.
Plea bargains can play a role in a judge’s decision too. The following terms are associated with this type of disposition:

  • Adjudication Withheld

  • Deferred Adjudication

  • Deferred Judgment

  • Diversion/Intervention Programs

  • Conditional Discharge – Non-conviction:
    The defendant has no finding of guilt. The court is discharging him/her from trial on special conditions that they must abide by. If they do not abide by these conditions, the discharge may be revoked and the finding may become guilty.

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