Do You Know All of These Common Law Enforcement Terms?



By: Todd Betzold

6 Min Quiz

These are used to identify people based on the unique pattern of whorls and lines.

Everyone's fingerprints are different. This is why they are used to help solve crimes.


This would be considered a minor wrongdoing.

A misdemeanor is a non-indictable offense. It is less serious than a felony.


What do you call a public official who institutes legal proceedings against someone?

They are often called prosecuting attorneys. They conduct the case against a defendant in a criminal court.


When you cause bodily harm to a person by any means, it is called what?

It is often referred to as assault and battery. A person can't be charged with battery if the act happened while they were sleepwalking or having a seizure.


What is close observation of a suspected criminal called?

A suspect is usually put under police surveillance. It would normally be done by a detective.


This is the person or thing being sued or accused in a court of law.

A defendant has been accused of breaking the law and is being sued in court. This applies to civil and criminal court.


What term means to unlawfully take another's property or money over a statutorily defined value?

In most jurisdictions, grand theft is considered a felony. The amount to be considered grand theft varies by state, but can be anywhere from $500 to $1,000.


This is often referred to as a person, thing, or circumstance causing inconvenience or annoyance.

Private nuisance is an unlawful interference with the use and enjoyment of land. Public nuisance is an obnoxious or dangerous person or group of people.


What term means a person who aids, abets, commands or counsels another in the commission of a crime?

An accessory doesn't commit the crime and isn't there when it happens, but is somehow involved with the crime, either before or after the act was committed.


An earlier action that is now used as an example to be considered in subsequent similar actions is called what?

The Supreme Court often uses precedents when making their rulings. They use previous court decisions to help guide them in their decision making.


This is an elected official who is responsible for enforcing the law in a county or town.

The sheriff tends to be the person more in charge of the counties in the United States. They would be the one in charge of running the county jails.


This is an order issued by police for a person to appear on a specific day and do something therein mentioned.

You often hear traffic citations. This requires the person to pay the ticket within a certain timeframe or appear in court to fight it.


When you are a witness in a court of law and give evidence it's called this?

The witness is under oath, so committing libel or slander wouldn't be recommended. They are testifying in front of the court.


What does it mean when you steal or misappropriate money from your work?

Embezzlement is taking money from a company, which has entrusted that money with you. It happens in many different businesses.


What it's called when a witness willfully tells an untruth in a court after having taken an oath?

This is basically a person lying under oath. A person committing perjury can face five years in prison and fines.


What it's called to keep someone in custody for questioning?

The police normally detain a person if they need to hold them for further questioning in a case.


This is what a young person is called.

A juvenile is a young person not yet old enough to be considered an adult. If convicted as a juvenile, they would spend time in a juvenile detention center.


What is improper or illegal professional activity by a lawyer called?

We often think of malpractice in health care, as when a doctor performs a negligent act or omission on a patient that causes harm.


What is it called when a person deliberately sets fire to property for the purpose of committing fraud?

Arson is when a person willfully burns down their property and lies about the cause. This is done in order for them to collect from their insurance policy.


This person is put in charge of supervising offenders on probation.

Depending on your probation, your probation officer is who you meet with to ensure the courts you are staying on the straight and narrow while not in jail for your crime.


What is the study of the motion of projectiles, like bullets?

Ballistics is the study of the movement of objects that are shot through the air. We often hear about ballistics, as it deals with the firing of a gun.


When a suspect is able to provide their whereabouts at the time of an alleged act, it is called what?

An alibi is proof that someone who is thought to have committed a crime could not have done it, as there is proof they were doing something else at the time.


The formal examination of evidence in a case in front of a judge or jury is called what?

A trial by jury is a fundamental right of people. The trial is put in place to decide their guilt or innocence.


This term is usually followed by a physical description of the persons of interest.

BOLO means "be on the lookout." Cops use this term when a person of interest is on the loose.


Instead of going to jail, an offender may be ordered to complete this?

This is an unpaid job that is supposed to help better the community. Jail time is often waived if an offender completes a certain number of community service hours.


The act of obtaining something by forcing or threatening a person is called what?

A person uses force or threats to get something from you. This can be a person extorting $1 million from an app developer.


What it's called when a person is formally charged or accused of a serious crime?

The indictment is a form charging a person with a crime. A subpoena is a form ordering a person to be a witness in a trial.


This would be used to tell whether a person is telling the truth or not by testing for physiological changes.

Lie detectors have no true way of determining if a person is lying or not. Because of that, the results are not admissible as evidence.


What is the desire to hurt someone or their reputation called?

Malice usually refers to a wrongful act done intentionally to harm a person.


This is used for discovering the position or speed of objects.

For police, they often use radar guns in determining the speed of your vehicle.


What is a document telling a person to appear in court as a witness called?

A subpoena is issued to a potential witness in a trial. It requires the person to show up to court at the time listed.


A serious crime that usually is punishable by imprisonment is called this.

A felony is a crime that is punishable by one year or more in prison or by death. A misdemeanor is normally punishable by fines or shorter amounts of time in local jail.


The lawful or unlawful act of preventing evidence from being shown in a trial is called what?

A motion can be made to suppress evidence and keep it out of a trial. Otherwise, if it is done, it would be done illegally.


This is a way of doing surveillance by using a listening device, normally over a phone line.

A wiretap is secretly installed on someone's phone to listen in on their conversations, which would be used to incriminate them.


What is a published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation called?

Libel can be done in a written or broadcast (radio, television or film) format. Slander is when someone orally says something false about a person.


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About This Quiz

We are on the pursuit to find a reader who can take this quiz and get all of the answers correct. If you don't succeed the first time around, show us that perseverance and just keep trying. That's the spirit to have when it comes to this common law enforcement terms quiz. You can have your own opinion about cops and law enforcement, but there is no omission of evidence when it comes to these answers. The questions have been made and no need to commit a misdemeanor in trying to get them all right. There will be no defamation of character if you get some wrong, as we'll know who the culprit is.

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