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Adjudicated Guilty

A conviction where the defendant has been found guilty of the charges.

Adjudication Withheld

The court does not give a final judgment regarding the case. The defendant is given probation, a program or community service in which they have a specified amount of time to complete. If the defendant complies, the case may be dismissed, depending on the county/state. If they do not dismiss in that particular county/state, then the disposition remains adjudication withheld and the case is closed. However, if the defendant is found in violation, the case disposition may be changed and the defendant can be found guilty.

Also  known as Non-Adjudication of Guilt.

Adverse Action

A negative employment action such as not hiring an applicant; not promoting or not retaining an employee.

Adverse Action Letter

After you’ve taken an adverse action, you must give the individual notice — orally, in writing, or electronically — that the action has been taken in an adverse action notice. It must include: The name, address, and phone number of the CRA that supplied the report; A statement that the CRA that supplied the report did not make the decision to take the adverse action and cannot give specific reasons for it; and a notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of any information the agency furnished, and his or her right to an additional free consumer report from the agency upon request within 60 days.


The subject of the inquiry, a job applicant or current employee who is the subject of an employment verification or reference.

Applicant Entry Link

This is a dedicated link provided to our clients to share with their applicants to order a background check. The orders are connected to the client’s account. You will see this with volunteers, students, etc.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

A software application that enables the electronic handling of recruitment needs. An ATS can be implemented or accessed online on an enterprise or small business level, depending on the needs of the company


Obtaining written permission from the applicant/employee for the background investigation to be conducted.


Bind Over

To order the defendant to appear in court. The term is also used when a case is shifted from a lower court to a higher court.



Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created under The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010, it is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector.

Chain of Custody

The procedure used to document the handling of the urine specimen from the time the applicant gives the specimen to the collector until the specimen is destroyed.

Civil Records

Civil records will contain non-criminal court cases filed against a patron. Civil records are often used to shed light on an applicant’s financial/ legal situation, and are records that are not typically found on credit reports.

Collection Site

A place selected by the employer where applicants present themselves for the purpose of providing a urine specimen for a drug test.

Consumer Report

Under the FCRA, one of two official names for a background report. The other name is an investigative consumer report. Most often the distinction between a consumer report and an investigative consumer report is that a consumer report contains only factual information while an investigative consumer report contains some opinions. Example: “Was s/he employed by your company?” This calls for a factual response. “How did s/he perform on the job?” This calls for an opinion.


Any person, company and/or their employees who provides a service under contract for a company or firm and is needing unescorted site access.


A guilty verdict or finding in a criminal trial.

County Civil History

A county civil history is a county level search that reports information about an individual regarding his or her involvement in lawsuits, bankruptcies, divorce and other matters. Civil history differs from the criminal history in that the subject can be either the plaintiff or the defendant.

County Criminal History

This is one of the most common searches conducted by employers. A search may be conducted for (felonies and, most times, misdemeanors) criminal records in the county where the applicant has lived, worked, or studied


Consumer Reporting Agency are entities that collect and disseminate information about consumers to be used for credit evaluation and certain other purposes, including employment.

Credit Bureau

A company that collects information relating to the credit ratings of individuals and makes it available to credit card companies, financial institutions, etc.

The three big credit bureaus are Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax

Conditional Discharge

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


Deferred Judgment

The defendant has no finding of guilt. The judgment is set aside for a deferred amount of time and the defendant must comply with any conditions given to them.  The case can be dismissed depending on the county/state if the defendant completes all requirements.

Department of Corrections (DOC)

Incarceration records for prisons Rehabilitation and Correction. DOC can contain information for individuals that have been sentenced to probation but were sentenced through the DOC.

Determinate Sentence

A jail or prison sentence that has a defined length and can’t be changed by a parole board or other agency.


Department of Transportation a federal Cabinet department of the U.S. government concerned with transportation. It was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966, and began operation on April 1, 1967.


Refers to the document and the process of informing an applicant/employee that they will be the subject of a background report.

Disposition Date

The date in court is the date a case is actually closed. Both civil and criminal court cases have disposition dates although courts use different terminology. Some courts use terms like “closed,” “resolved” or “judgment” instead of disposition date.


A court direction which calls a defendant, who has been found guilty, to attend a work or educational program as part of probation. May include some type of anger management, drug rehab, etc. If the condition of the program is met, the charge may be considered non-conviction.


Driver’s License Number


Date of Birth


Education Verification

An Education Verification is generally completed on the highest level of education listed and available from institutions throughout the United States. This service verifies the school attended, dates of attendance, the field of study, degree earned, if any, and date of graduation or last attendance. It is essential to have the name used at the time of attendance.

Electronic Signature

This is a signature that is completed electronically, rather than signing a name with a pen or pencil. Special requirements must be met for an electronic signature to be valid in a court of law.


The employer in the case of employment screening, a property owner in the case of tenant screening, that originally requests and ultimately receives the qualified search results in the form of a consumer report.


Excluded Parties Listing Service a Web-based system maintained by the Federal General Services Administration (GSA). A Federal agency can “exclude,” i.e., suspend or debar, businesses or individuals from receiving contracts or assistance for various reasons, such as a conviction of or indictment for a criminal or civil offense or a serious failure to perform to the terms of a contract

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a federal agency that administers and enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination.


E-Verify is a program administered by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) bureau, in partnership with the Social Security Administration. This is a web-based program that allows employers to verify that their employees are authorized to work in the United States.

E-Verify is required for all federal contractors. For documentation explaining this rule can be found here.

Several states, such as Nebraska, also require all state contractors and state / public organizations to participate in E-Verify.


When a record of an offense is expunged it will not appear on a released criminal history. The record may be destroyed or sealed after a certain period of time. Records may be expunged in juvenile cases, or upon satisfactory completion of a court-ordered probation and/or class(s). Law enforcement agencies may still have access to these records.



Fair Credit Reporting Act originally passed in 1970, the primary federal law that governs the preparation, dissemination, and use of background reports for employment purposes.

Federal Criminal History

Referred to as non-jurisdictional crimes.

A common misconception is that “Federal” is synonymous with national coverage or fingerprinting. Actually, it refers to cases conducted in a Federal District Court.


A serious offense carrying a penalty of incarceration from one year to life in a state prison, to the death penalty.


Federal Trade Commission an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act. Its principal mission is the promotion of consumer protection and the elimination and prevention of anticompetitive business practices, such as coercive monopoly.


General Sentence

A punishment for all charges in a case without individual sentences for each offense.


General Service Administration is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1949 to help manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies.

Guilty in Absentia

A conviction where the jury has found the defendant guilty without them having appeared in court



Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 is a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services form. It is used by an employer to verify an employee’s identity and to establish that the worker is eligible to accept employment in the United States.

Indeterminate Sentence

A sentence of an unspecified duration of confinement such as 10 to 20 years.


A court order which prohibits a person from doing a specified act for a specified period of time.

Intermittent Sentence

A sentence that contains periods of freedom such as allowing defendant to go to work or school during the day.


Medical Review Officer (MRO)

A person who is a licensed physician and who is responsible for receiving and reviewing laboratory results generated by an employer’s drug testing program and evaluating medical explanations for certain drug test results.

Military Record Verification

This search involves verifying an applicant’s military history. The military history in this case often serves as a type of employment verification.


A crime punishable by a fine and/or county jail time for up to one year; not a felony.

Misdemeanor Intervention Program

A program designated only for misdemeanor offenses in which the defendant may comply with the conditions of the program in order to avoid conviction.

Motor Vehicle Report (MVR)

A report procured from a State Agency that contains information pertaining to a consumer’s driving status and driving record.



National Association of Professional Background Screeners a non-profit trade association founded in 2003 to represent the interest of companies offering employment and background screening.

National Crime Information Center (NCIC)

The NCIC is a computerized index of criminal justice information available to federal, state, and local law enforcement.

National Criminal Database

Also referred to as “Multi-jurisdictional search.” A database of criminal records collected from a patchwork of state and local records that is NOT all inclusive. These are offered by some background screeners. National searches allow a client to look at a wider scope of coverage.

National Sex Offender Public Registry

This is public information regarding the location of individuals who are required to register with a State Sex Offender Registry. Information about individuals who appear on these lists is dependent on the individual states’ registry requirements but typically will contain information on individuals who have committed sexually violent offenses against adults and children, as well as certain sexual contact and other crimes against victims who are minors.

No Contest

A plea in which the defendant does not contest the charge. This has the same effect as a guilty plea except the conviction cannot be used against the defendant in a civil suit.

No Papered

A non-conviction where the paperwork was never sent to the court by the District Attorney and the case was never filed. Therefore, it was never brought to trial.

No Probable Cause

There was not sufficient reason to bring the case to trial.



Office of the Inspector General. An office that is part of Cabinet departments and independent agencies of the Federal government of the United States as well as some state and local governments. Each office includes an Inspector General and employees charged with identifying, auditing, and investigating fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement within the parent agency


One Source Certified Contractors an encompassing screening program that builds a safe and transparent environment when working with third-party contractors, which allows contractors to check the backgrounds of their employees and determine their eligibility for site access.


Office of Foreign Asset Control. A search of the most recent, master list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons that is made available by OFAC.

Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance (ODAPC)

The office in the Office of the Secretary, DOT, that is responsible for coordinating drug and alcohol testing program matters within the Department and providing information concerning the implementation of CFR 49 Part 40



To release from confinement after serving part of a sentence, usually with terms and conditions provided in the parole order.

Personal Reference

Also known as a character reference, is a reference provided by an individual who knows you and can vouch for your character and abilities.


Relief of all or part of a confinement sentence on the promise of proper conduct.

Professional References

A recommendation from a person who can vouch for your qualifications for a job. A professional reference for an experienced worker is typically a former employer, a colleague, a client, a vendor, a supervisor or someone else who can recommend you for employment.

Protection Order

An order used by a court to protect a person or entity, and the general public, in a situation involving alleged domestic violence, harassment, stalking or sexual assault.



The case never went to trial. The state rejected the hearing of the case.


To return an individual to custody pending further trial.


Refers to which results can be legally reported to an End-User—the standard being whether the information complies with applicable law, such as the FCRA and state consumer reporting laws.


The defendant is responsible for the payment of the fines or fees of the crime. They are not found in guilt, however, must pay what they are ordered. Often found on traffic tickets or minor violation.



A judgment of punishment for a criminal act.

Types of sentencing:

Determinate Sentence

General Sentence

Indeterminate Sentence

Intermittent Sentence

Successive Sentence

Suspended Sentence

Site Inspection

The way for any company requesting consumer reports they must prove the legitimacy of the business and the security procedures for storing consumer reports.

SSL Encryption

Secure Sockets Layer. A protocol designed to provide secure encrypted communication over the Internet.


Social Security Number a number in the format 000-00-0000, unique for each individual, used to track Social Security benefits and for other identification purposes.

Social Security Number Trace

A search of credit bureau files to authenticate the subject’s SSN and name. The search may show prior addresses and other names including maiden/ alias/ aka. This search may also uncover evidence of identity theft and/or deceased numbers.

Social Security Number Validation

This search will validate the social security number by comparing the applicant’s SSN to the Social Security Administration’s formula for order of issuance.

State Criminal History

A search of the state centralized database either through State Law Enforcement or Administrative Office of the Court- others listed below.

Successive Sentence

The imposition of the penalty one after the other for each of several crimes as compared to concurrent sentences with happen at the same time.

Suspended Sentence

Deferment of punishment usually over a period of probation.


Third-Party Source

These are organizations, generally established on a for-profit basis, that are contracted by institutions and/or employers to handle
verifications. These third parties gather and maintain information from the institutions and employers they represent, and charge a fee to access their information. Typically, institutions and employers who contract with third-party sources to provide verifications
will not provide this information themselves, but will refer all requests for verifications to the third-party source.

Time Served

A period a criminal defendant has been in jail, often while awaiting bail or awaiting trial. Often a judge will give a defendant credit for time served.

Tried As An Adult

When a juvenile is charged with a serious felony and is older than an age set in the state’s statute, and the case, upon order of the court, is transferred from juvenile court to regular criminal court. These records are not sealed but are public records.


User Certification

A document provided by the background screening company which must be signed by the employer before the screening company will provide background reports to the employer.


Verified Test

A drug test result or validity testing result from an HHS-certified laboratory that has undergone review and final determination by the MRO.

Voluntary Dismissal

The court or district attorney dismisses the charges.



A type of conviction mainly found in the state of North Carolina. This means the defendant has waived their right to trial and has pled guilty to the charges. In turn, the court accepts the plea of guilty.

Waiver of Jury

The right to a jury trial is waived and the judge makes the decision of guilt or innocence.

Wet Signature

A wet signature is completed by the subject by signing the name in pen or pencil.


Adjudication withheld, deferred adjudication, deferred judgment.

Workers’ Compensation Records

These searches provide detailed information regarding the filing of an applicant’s prior Workers’ Compensation Claims and injuries.


Youthful Offender

Classification of juveniles and young adults in the 18 to 25 year age group, these individuals are sometimes given special sentencing consideration for the purpose of rehabilitation, sometimes through education and counseling. Some states restrict the use of these youthful offender “convictions” by employers.