Criminal Record Non-Conviction Terminology Definitions

While there are always exceptions to the usage of the following terms, there are multiple terms that tell us 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:

Nolle Prosequi (Nolle Prosse)
No Bill
No Action
No True Bill
Not Guilty

Some similar terms used specific to certain geographic areas:

Stricken Off without Leave to Reinstate (Illinois)
No Information Filed (Florida)
Not Responsible (North Carolina)

Some of those terms mean essentially the same thing, while others mean things very similar. A good example is Nolle Prosequi, which usually occurs soon after a case is filed and probably even before an indictment. This term Nolle Prosequi means “We do not wish to prosecute”.

But, an acquitted ruling could come after a trial, while Dismissed, the catch-all, can occur at any time during the course of a case.

The main conclusion under each of these terms was that the subject was not convicted and owes nothing more to the court.

Just to confuse things a little, some judgments are the equivalent of a non-conviction but have stipulations entered by the courts.

In this event 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. Frequently, probation is a part of this sentencing and sometimes also fines, anger management classes and/or even short jail terms are included

A guilty plea or (no contest) nolo contendre is sometimes associated in 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:

Diversion/Intervention Programs
Deferred Adjudication
Deferred Judgment
Adjudication Withheld

The following states use these specific terms:

First Offender’s Program (Georgia)
ARD Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (Pennsylvania)
Non-Adjudication of Guilt, Agreed Plea (Texas)

Probation violations will often result in arrest but sometimes the court might continue probation after a violation and keep the case in non-conviction status.

After the sentencing is complied with completely, usually the court will then dismiss the case and make no further entry.

If the defendant fails to comply with any part of the sentencing the case can quickly be turned into a conviction.

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None of the information contained in this web site should be construed as legal advice. All forms, policies, information and procedures should be reviewed by your legal counsel before being used in any way.

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