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Police Terminology You Should Know

Criminal justice professionals use a specialized vocabulary that every officer should know. Here is some police terminology that you should be careful to use correctly:

Burglary: This is a break-in without the use of force against a victim. If someone steals a television set from an unoccupied vacation house, the crime is classified as a burglary.

Robbery:  When the suspect uses force to steal, the crime is classified as a robbery. Most convenience store crimes are robberies.

Adult: Generally a person 18 years of age or older.

Aggravated assault: Usually involves both a weapon and severe injury.

Bias crime (also called hate crime): Not just a crime by a person who is prejudiced toward a particular group. To prosecute a “bias”(or “hate”) crime, you must show that hate motivated the crime.

Drunkenness: This term is applied for situations involving alcoholic beverages, but it excludes driving under the influence.

DUI: Driving under the influence includes both alcohol and drugs.

Alcohol: A tasteless and odorless substance. You may have difficulty in court if you claim that you smelled alcohol on a suspect’s breath. Instead you could say, “I smelled an alcoholic beverage.”

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