A set of pre-trial conditions placed upon the accused to allow them to be released from custody while awaiting trial. The purpose of the conditions are to reasonably ensure public safety.In Philadelphia, people often receive monetary bail conditions (e.g., $10,000), meaning they must pay the Commonwealth some set amount of money to be released from custody while awaiting trial. When the accused successfully completes their trial without missing any appearances or otherwise violating their bail conditions, their money is returned. If they fail to meet their bail conditions, they may lose their bail money. When a person is given cash bail, they can often pay 10% of the full amount (also called “bond”), but will owe the full amount if they violate their bail conditions.
A charge is an accusation by the Commonwealth that a person has committed a crime. Although a case often involves more than one charge, our Charge Report only looks at the most serious offense charged in each criminal case.In Philadelphia, the DAO, not the police, is responsible for deciding whether to charge an individual. Generally speaking, police investigate a case and present their investigation to the DAO. The DAO then determines whether there is enough evidence to file criminal charges and what charges should be filed. It is common that a person is charged with multiple offenses in a single criminal case. For example, Simple Assault is often charged at the same time as Recklessly Endangering Another Person.
The catchall category in our data for cases that are ‘dropped’ at some point in the process. Some common reasons a case can be dropped include:
Withdrawal/Nolle Prosequi: a voluntary decision by the DAO to end prosecution in an individual case.
Dismissal: a decision by the judge to end prosecution in an individal case.
Diversion is a procedure by which the DAO removes cases from the usual path through the criminal justice process of incarceration and probation. Diversion allows the accused to participate in a program that is often court supervised and, if completed successfully, will serve the needs of the criminal justice system. The programs are designed to be rehabilitative rather than punitive and the goal is to redirect individuals who have committed minor crime into a lifestyle that will keep them away from criminal involvement. Some of the benefits of diversionary programs are:
People are able to stay in the community while being held accountable.
Their specialized nature allows for targeting of specific programs for specific types of people (e.g., drug treatment for people with drug disuse disorders).
Many allow for the charges to be cleared from the accused’s record after successful program completion. This helps people move on from their contact with the criminal justice system without the lifetime burden a criminal record can pose in finding housing, employment, and other important life activities.
They allow the accused to quickly move out of the criminal justice system, bringing swift resolution of the case and reducing loads on overburdened agencies and system actors.
The more precise definition is more complicated: A person has been exonerated if he or she was convicted of a crime and, following a post-conviction re-examination of the evidence in the case, was either:
The pardon, acquittal, or dismissal must have been the result, at least in part, of evidence of innocence that either:
All of the years of incarceration imposed on defendants in all cases that ended in a given time period. For example, the future years of incarceration imposed in Philadelphia on a particular day can be calculated by adding up all of the carceral sentences imposed on all defendants in Philadelphia that day.
To calculate future years of incarceration, we make a few assumptions:
All of the years of supervision imposed on defendants in all cases that ended in a given time period. For example, the future years of supervision imposed in Philadelphia on a particular day can be calculated by adding up all of the probation and parole sentences imposed on all defendants in Philadelphia that day.
To calculate future years of supervision, we make a few assumptions:
Instead of going to trial, an accused person may choose to admit guilt and go directly to sentence. A guilty plea can be open or negotiated.
A negotiated plea is an agreement between the DAO and the accused on the charges that the accused will admit guilt to, the charges that will be dropped, and the sentence that will be recommended to the judge for the case. The agreement is sometimes called a plea bargain.
An open plea is one where the accused admits guilt and then the judge sets the sentence without a recommendation from the DAO.
The various ways that a criminal case can end. We have created 5 high level outcome groupings that capture all of the ways a case can end. These are all defined elsewhere on this page:
As part of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, offense types are divided into three categories:
Part I Crimes, considered the most serious. These include: criminal homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, auto theft, and arson.
Part II Crimes. These include: other assaults, forgery and counterfeiting, fraud, embezzlement, stolen property, vandalism, weapons violations, prostitution and commercialized vice, sex offenses, drug violations, gambling, offenses against family and children, driving under the influence, liquor law violations, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, and vagrancy.
All other offenses. This category includes all violations of state and local laws not specifically defined as a Part I or II offense, except traffic violations.