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Private Investigator Glossary & Terms

A, B, CD, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y & Z

AAMVANET: (American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators) A computerized linking state and Canadian province agencies on matters of highway usage and safety.

Abduction: Abduction is taking a child away from his or her family. Abduction is categorized as kidnapping.

Accelerant:  Any flammable substance that increases the progress of a fire.

Active Alarm System: A type of vehicle anti theft device (theft deterrent)  which makes the driver do something to activate and deactivate the system. If the Alarm is not deactivated it will sound an alarm and possibly temporarily kill the engine.

Adultery: Infidelity; having sexual relations with someone other than one’s husband or wife.

Administrative Log: A record of the actions taken by the crime scene coordinator, including but not limited to assignments and release of the scene.

Admissibility:  A legal term used to determine whether a piece of evidence can be presented in a court of law. Admissibility requires that the evidence have relevance & materiality

Admission:   A person’s acknowledgment of facts or circumstances that tend to incriminate him/her with respect to a crime.

Affidavit: A sworn, written statement of the information, made under oath A statement sworn to be true before someone legally authorized to administer an oath.

Affirmation:  Affirmation is the process in which a witness acknowledges that he/she understands and undertakes the obligation of an oath

AFIS: Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

AKA: Also Known As; an alias.

American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD): An international society devoted to maintaining the highest standards of practice at crime laboratories. ASCLD conducts an accreditation program for laboratories and education programs.

Amido Black: A dye that is sensitive to blood & is used to developing fingerprints contaminated with blood.

AOE-COE: AOE (arise out of employment) / COE (Course of Employment) is used in reference to workers’ compensation investigations. Did it happen at work and/or due to work?

Arson: The crime of setting a fire with intent to cause damage.

Arrest warrant: A judicial order that a particular person be arrested & brought to court to answer their criminal charge.

Assault: a threatened or attempted physical attack by someone who appears to be able to cause bodily harm if not stopped. Battery occurs when the assailant makes physical contact.

Assets: Item of value, such as a person’s real estate, bank accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, cash, trust funds, and businesses,

Associative Evidence:  Evidence that connects the perpetrator/victim to the scene of crime or victim to the perpetrator.

Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS):  A computerized system, maintained by the FBI. AFIS stores and compares millions of fingerprints & is used to find identification matches.

Autopsy: Autopsy is a medical examination of a body to determine the time of and cause of death. An autopsy is required in all cases of a violent or suspicious death.3
Avionics:  The electronic radio and navigation equipment on an commercial or private aircraft.

Battered-child syndrome:  Clinical term for injuries sustained by a physically abused child.

Bail Enforcement: Typically refers to the act of locating & apprehending bail-secured defendants who have jumped bail or otherwise violated an agreement with a bail bondsman. Commonly referred to as bounty hunting.

Behavioral evidence analysis (BEA):  Behavioral evidence analysis is a method of criminal profiling in which characteristics of the perpetrator are determined from evidence at the crime scene.

Body Language:  demeanor, gestures, facial expressions, and other nonverbal signals that show a person’s attitudes, truthfulness, impressions, and so on.

BOLO:  be-on-the-lookout.

Burden of going forward: is the responsibility of the defense to present more then enough evidence to create a reasonable doubt of guilt.

Burglary: The unlawful crime of breaking and entering a building or other structure with the intent to commit a felony or a theft.

Burned: An investigator that has been compromised by the subject he/she has been conducting surveillance on.

Burn Indicators:  Any effects of heat or partial burning that could indicate a fire’s speed of development, temperature, duration, points of origin, and time of occurrence and the presence of flammable liquids.

Cadaver K-9:  Trained dogs to the spell of decomposing human remains. Cadaver dogs assist in locating bodies buried in the ground.

Caliber: The diameter of a bullet; which is somewhat bigger than the bore of the gun from which the bullet was fired.

Canvassing: Searching for your subject after you lose them during mobile surveillance.

Carjacking:  The crime of stealing a motor vehicle from a motorist immediate presence. Carjacking can be by the use of force, fear, or threat of force.

Case: An assignment that a investigator is conducting an investigation on.

Catalytic Combustion Detector:  Is a portable detector that oxidizes any combustible gases, which is used to detect residues of any flammable-liquid accelerants at a fire. Catalytic Combustion Detector is also called a sniffer,

Chain of Custody: applies to the documentation, custody, control, and handling of evidence. Chain of custody is written in chronological order in order to preserve its integrity.

Charging:  The formal act asserting that a particular person(s) is to be prosecuted for a crime.

charring:  materials scorched by fire. Charring is used to help deduce the direction of fire spread by comparing relative depths of char throughout the scene.

Check fraud: Any activity involving the creation or use of fake or altered checks

Check washing:  A method of adjusting checks by using an acid-based chemical solution to erase payee & amount information.

Child:  Any individual under the age of eighteen.

Child Pornography: Sexually explicit visual of a minor which includes movies, photographs, videotapes.

Chop shop:  An illegal operation at which stolen vehicles are taken apart and their traceable parts are disposed of so that untraceable parts can be sold to salvage yards, repair shops, and indiscriminate buyers.

Civil Court Records: Civil Court Records often include information such as name changes, restraining orders, divorces, lawsuits, automobile accidents, and injuries.

Civil Rights: Personal rights guaranteed and protected by the Constitution, Civil Rights include, freedom of speech, press, freedom from discrimination, etc.

Clandestine Drug Laboratories:  An illegal operation that can produce a variety of illegal drugs. Because the chemicals, processes used, and workers’ inexperience, Clandestine Drug Laboratories pose serious danger to the public, police and firefighters.

Claimant: An individual that has a claim with an insurance company or self insured company.  

Claims Adjuster: Somebody assigned to hand & investigate insurance claims. Claims adjusters will also investigate for damages and recommends an effective settlement; typically the intermediary between the Claimant and the Insurer.

Class Action: A civil action  is brought by one or more individuals on behalf of themselves & all others similarly situated.

Cleared by Arrest:  The classification assigned to an offense when a suspect is  arrested & there is sufficient evidence to file formal charges.

Cloning: Illegaling reprogramming a smart phone’s access codes with the codes from a  different & legitimate cellular customer.

CNA: CNA = Customer Name and Address. CNA information is usually found from a phone number.

Cocaine:  Cocaine is stimulant extracted from leaves of a coca plant. Cocaine is illegally sold as a translucent & white crystalline powder.

Cognitive interview technique:  An approach to interview a witness, where he or she is asked to recall events & details in different ways. Cognitive interview technique is a means of fostering a witness’s recollections.

Coldline: Phone services used to mask the identity of the outbound caller’s telephone number or Caller ID data.

Combined DNA Index System (CODIS): CODIS was developed by the FBI. The Combined DNA Index System is a database of convicted-offenders & known- and unknown-subject DNA profiles. CODIS is used to find matches as well as link unsolved crimes in multiple jurisdictions.

Competency – (witness):  Competency is a witness’s personal qualification for testifying in court. Witness competency will depend on circumstances that affect the person’s legal ability to function as a sworn witness. Some examples are  age & mental state

Competitive Intelligence: Competitive intelligence is information obtained legally & ethically. Competitive intelligence is used to gain an advantage in commerce.

Component Swapping:  is a fraudulent practice where computer builders use parts from a lower quality supplier which don’t meet standards & fail to inform their consumers.

Computer Crime:   Computer crime is any illegal act, where computer knowledge & equipment is used to commit the offense. More times then not computer crime is an act that involves changing data or creating records for the purpose of facilitating fraud or embezzlement. Another example of computer crime is the unauthorized removal of data from a computer system, which prevents the legitimate owner from having access to hir or her information.

Concentric Fractures:  Concentric fractures are lines that roughly circle the point of impact in a glass window. Concentric fractures can be very large or small depending on the size & force of impact.

Confabulation:  Confabulation happens in hypnosis, where the subject’s makes a fabrication of facts to fill in gaps in his or her actual memory.

Confession:  Confession is the acknowledgment by a person accused of a crime that he or she is guilty of that crime. Confession also admits her or she has and committed every element of the offense & must exclude any reasonable doubt about the possibility of innocence.

Confidence or Con Artists:  Individuals or groups who use guile in a person-to-person relationship with the objective to swindle the other person by gaining his or her confidence.

Confidential VIN:  A confidential VIN (vehicle identification number) is a duplicate VIN stamped in a hidden spot on vehicle’s frame or body. The Confidential VIN location is only known to the manufacturer and law enforcement specialists.

Confidentiality: Confidentiality is the prevention of disclosure, to anybody other than authorized individuals. Confidentiality can include things of client’s proprietary information, investigation findings, or of a subject’s identity.

Conflict of Interest: Conflict of Interest is when a private investigator has a duty to more than one individual or group where both parties’ different interests make it impossible to act impartially. A conflict of interest would arise if a private investigator took jobs from both the claimant & defendant in the same civil lawsuit.

Contact Burns:  Contact burns are found on the skin, which is caused by contact with flames or any other hot objects. You can get contact burns from things like an iron or stove.  

Contaminated Fingerprints:  Contaminated fingerprints are created when fingers contaminated with face powder, blood, or a similar material touch a clean surface while leaving a fingerprint behind.

Cookie:  A cookie is a very small file that some web pages plant in a visiting computer; Cookies only can pass limited data (e.g., user name) back to the web server.

Corpus Delicti:  Corpus delicti consists of all the elements of any crime. Often said as “body of the crime”

Counterfeit: Counterfeiting is an imitation with the intent to deceptively represent its origins and or content.

Counter Surveillance: Counter surveillance is avoiding surveillance or making it difficult. Counter Surveillance is attempting to determine whether or not a subject is under surveillance and by whom.

Covert: Convert means to be hidden or concealed.

Covert Camera: A covert camera is a hidden camera with the goal of recording somebody or something without his/her knowledge.

Credibility:  Credibility of a witness  is the quality of his or her testimony. Is the witness worthy of belief? Witness credibility is established in terms of presence, consciousness, and attentiveness during the interviews.

Credit Card Fraud:  Credit card fraud is any activity which involves the creation and or use of altered, stolen, fake, or fraudulently acquired credit cards.

Credit Header: A Credit Header is a part of a consumer credit report. The credit header is most often located at the top of the report, which may identify a person’s  social security numbers, past & present residences, date of birth, aliases, telephone numbers, etc. The header usually will not contain credit or any other financial information.

Crime: Crime is the commission of any act that is prohibited. Crime can also be the omission of any act that is required by the penal code of any organized political state.

Crime Analysis:  Crime analysis is the use of systematic analytical methods to locate important information on crime patterns & trend correlations.There are three types of crime analysis  administrative, strategic, and tactical analysis.

Crime Bulletins:  Crime bulletins are usually prepared by crime analysts & publications used to disseminate information on specific topics. Crime bulletins contain the most active criminals, crime series & trends.

Crime Laboratory:  Crime laboratory is an organization that analyzes materials which has been collected from a crime scene & suspects with the hope to help determine whether a crime was committed. If a crime has been committed then the crime laboratory will attempt to find how, when, & by whom it was committed.

Crime Scene: A crime scene is the exact location where a crime was committed.

Crime Scene Entry Log:  A written and chronological record of all persons who enter or left a crime scene. A crime scene log also records the times they enter and exit a crime scene.

Crime Scene Release:  A crime scene release is at the end of a crime scene processing, where the return of the premises or area to the owner. A crime scene release is determined by the crime scene coordinator.

Criminal Investigative Analysis:  The process of analyzing any crime scene patterns with the hope to determine the personality or behavioral characteristics of offenders.

Criminalistics: Criminalistics is the application of scientific disciplines like biology, geology, chemistry, physics, or mathematics to any criminal investigation. Criminalistics  study the physical evidence at a crime scene.

Criminal Profiling:  The process of inferring usually distinctive personality characteristics of individuals who statistically commit crimes.

Crimogen:   Crimogen is a known offender who is responsible for multiple crimes.

Cross-Contamination:  cross contamination is the unwanted transfer of material between two or more sources of physical evidence.

Cross-Examination: Cross examination in any legal trial is the questioning of a witness who was originally called up by the opposing party.

Cryptanalysis:  Cryptanalysis is the process of analyzing secured information illegally  by breaking a systems encryption or firewall. Cryptanalysis is usually done intrusively with computers.

Cryptology: Cryptology is the combination of art and science to make or break codes and ciphers.

CUPPI – Circumstances Undetermined Pending Police Investigation: CUPPI refers to a case where the medical examiner wants clarification before signing the death certificate.

Cyberstalking:  The crime of threatening or  harassing victims by electronic technologies Cyberstalking can be with e-mail, Internet chat rooms or news groups.

Cyberterrorism:  Cyberterrorism is using electronic tools to shut down or disrupt critical infrastructure components. Cyberterrorism can target lots of different areas such as transportation, energy, and government operations.


Dactylography:  The study & comparison of fingerprints to aid with criminal identification. Dactylography was originally used in England in 1900, but a a standard of identification ever since.

Database: A database is a complete collection of information that has been organized systematically for easy analysis & access. Databases are computerized.

Date-Rape Drugs: Drugs with the purpose to facilitate rape by debilitating the victim. The most common Date-Rape Drugs include Rohypnol, GHB, and many other  benzodiazepines & depressants.

DEA – Drug Enforcement Administration:  DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) was created in 1973 by the federal agency responsible for enforcing laws on illicit drugs. DEA was started with the goal to fight international drug traffic. Drug Enforcement Administration also trains state and local police to investigative work regarding illegal drugs with the use of surveillance, and informants.

Deductive Reasoning: Deductive reason is the process that moves from general premises to specific details. An example of deductive reasons include a hypothesis about the crime is developed & is tested against the factual situation to arrive at a conclusion.

Defendant: A defendant is a person or institution against whom an action is brought in a court of law. A defendant is the being accused and or sued.

Defense Wounds:   Wounds which were suffered by victims while trying protect themselves from an assault. Defense wounds are often cased by a knife or club.

Dental Identification:  Dental ID or identification is the identification of any individual on the basis of dental records. Dental identification is performed by a forensic dentist, who compares dental records before and after death. Often they see if there is a match.

Dental Stone:  The preferred material for casting footwear, or tire impressions. Dental stone is faster drying and stronger than plaster & provides more detailed impression.

Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA):   Deoxyribonucleic acir or DNA is a nucleic acid consisting of the molecules which carry the body’s genetic material, which is used establish each person as separate and distinct.

Depressants:  Depressants are drugs that will depress the central nervous system. Depressants often reduce the tension and inducing sleep. Depressants are known to cause, in chronic use, faulty judgment, loss of balance, and quick temper as well as overdose, and death.

Detention: Detention is  the limited & temporary interference with a anybody’s freedom for an investigative purpose. Detention can also be used as investigative detention, & field interrogation.

Digital Forensic Analysis:  Digital forensics analyst is the process of gaining, collecting, & analyzing, evidentiary electronic data relevant to a prosecution or investigation.

Direct Examination:  In any trial direct examination is the questioning of a witness by the party who called the witness to testify.

DMV Record: A Department of Motor Vehicle Record holds lots of information like: accidents, drunken driving arrests, address, middle name, height, eye color, hair color, weight, violations, actions, tickets, vehicles.

DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acir):  DNA ia a nucleic acid consisting of the molecules which carry the body’s genetic material, which is used establish each person as separate and distinct.

DNA Typing:  The process of DNA Typing is isolating & reading deoxyribonucleic acid-a genetic blueprints unique to every human. One exception to DNA typing is with identical twins, which can be used as a means of criminal identification. DNA typing is also referred to as DNA fingerprinting.

DOB: DOB is shorthand for date of birth for any person or animal.

Documented Vessel:  A documented vessel is any boat which is registered with the United States Coast Guard.

Domestic Terrorism:  The use of real or threatened violence against any persons or property by an individual or group. Domestic terrorism operations are entirely inside the borders of the victims’ nation. Domestic terrorism is conducted without foreign direction, and done to only further social or political goals.

Drug Enforcement Administration: The DEA or Drug Enforcement Administration was created in 1973 by the federal agency responsible for enforcing laws on illicit drugs. The Drug Enforcement Administration or DEA was started with the purpose to fight international drug traffic. The DEA also trains local and state police to investigative and work with illegal drugs.

Due Diligence: The process of systematically evaluating information, to identify risks and issues relating to a proposed transaction (i.e. verify that information is what it has been stated to be).


E-mail Intercepting:  Intercepting emails is an intelligence technique where e-mails are analyzed & intercepted to collect information about anybody.

Emotional Approach:  An interrogation technique used where the interrogator appeals to the suspect’s sense of family pride, religion, honor, & morals. The emotional approach with interrogation is best received by first time offenders.

Encryption:  Encryption is a a means to secure data. Encryption software will scramble data into nonsense for storage or transmission. Once the data is received you would use the encryption key to unscrambled everything as the intended and legitimate users.

Evidence:   Evidence is anything and everything that tends logically to prove or disprove a fact at issue. Evidence is used in a judicial case or controversy to prove or disprove any statement.

Evidence Recovery Log:  A chronological record of every piece of evidence and noting who collected it, where and when it was collected, who witnessed the collection, and whether it was documented by photos or diagrams.

Evidential Intelligence: Evidential intelligence is clear factual & precise information that can be presented in court.

Exceptionally Cleared:  Exceptionally cleared is a classification assigned to an offense when a factor to the investigation results in no charge being filed against a suspect.

Excusable Homicide:  The killing of anybody where the slayer is to some degree at fault, but the slayer’s degree of fault is not enough to constitute a criminal homicide. A great example of excusable homicide is self defense.

Expert witness:  A Expert witness is somebody who is called to testify in court. An expert witness is valuable because of their special skills or knowledge permitted to a case. Experts witness are important as they give opinions about to help jurors understand the complex or technical matters in a case.

Exploits:  Exploits in software programs are created with the purpose of taking advantage of security holes in computer systems and thereby provide the user with illegal access to computer databases.

Explosion:  A physical reaction caused by the presence of high-pressure gases.  Explosions are used to damage a structure, vessel, or container as a result of the pressure release.

Eyewitness Identification:  The identification of somebody or someone involved in a crime. Eyewitness identification is by a witness who sees the person commuting a crime.

Errors & Omissions (E&O): Errors and omissions refers to unique type of professional liability insurance coverage. Errors and omissions or E&O insurance protects business from any claims about negligent acts.

Eavesdropping: Eavesdropping is a listening to another conversation which you are not included in. Eavesdropping other conversations secretly to Intercept  a conversation by unintended recipients.

Email Header: An email header is the top section of an email message. Email headers will have the sender and recipient’s email addresses as well as the subject line.

Embezzlement: Embezzlement is the act of taking money or property by a person with the intent to hide it from officials.

Espionage: Espionage is the secret practice of spying to obtaining secrets. Espionage will usually happen from rivals or enemies for military, political, or economic advantage. Espionage is considered  using illegal or unethical methods.

Evidence: Evidence in a case can include many different things like: material objects, records, testimony, documents, or other things presented at a trial to prove the existence or nonexistence of a fact.


Facial Identification:  Facial ID is a method computer programs use for preparing a likeness of a suspect. Facial Identification will create a composite from several different individual facial features.

Facial Recognition Software:  There are a lot of different computer programs which will compare video and still images of somebody’s face Facial Recognition software is used to help identifying & apprehending people.

Fact: Facts are an event which happened or something known to have existed. Facts are an assertion that can be proved.

False Vehicle Insurance Claim:  False vehicle insurance claims are schemes where the owner of a vehicle reports the vehicle stolen, however the vehicle has only been hidden or disposed of.

Farm Equipment:  Farm equipment covers a lot of different motorized and non motorized equipment used on farms or lawns. Farm equipment does not usually require a title or registration. Farm equipment is also classified as off-road equipment.

FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation): FBI or Federal Bureau of Investigation is responsible for investigating crimes within it’s federal jurisdiction.  See Federal Bureau of Investigations for more.

FBI Crime Laboratory:  The crime laboratory of the FBI is a comprehensive forensic laboratory that conducts a broad range of scientific analyses. The FBI crime laboratory looks at evidence and provides experts to testify in court about results. The FBI Lab provides its services without charge to state and local law enforcement agencies.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI):  The Federal Bureau of Investigation was started in 1908, but originally it was called the Bureau of Investigation. In 1935 Congress changed the name for Bureau of Investigation to its current name Federal Bureau of Investigation or FBI for short. The FBI is responsible for investigating crimes within the federal jurisdiction which influences law enforcement countrywide. The FBI has a through crime laboratory, training courses, and data banks, which all are available to state and local police.

FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act): Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA for short is federal legislation to promote privacy of consumer information as well as accuracy and fairness with consumer reporting agencies. FCRA was passed in 1970 which is policed by the Federal Trade Commission

Federal Vehicle Certification Label:  A large sticker certifying a vehicle’s safety information as well as its VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).  Federal vehicle certification labels are most often located on the driver’s door or doorpost.

Felonious Assault:  A felonious assault is similar to assault where physical attack by someone is committed, however it’s more severe bodily harm or death. To make it a felonious assault it will usually involve use of a deadly weapon.

Felony: A person who conducts a crime of a more serious nature than a misdemeanor. generally, a criminal offense punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year.

Felonious Homicides:  Felonious homicides Killings are more severe then a homicide.  Felonious homicide crimes; include murder and manslaughter.

Field Interview Report:  Patrolling officers complete a form called the field interview report  which notes details about any and everything.

Field Notes:  Field notes can be anything noted during an investigation. Field notes are a shorthand written record made by a police officer from the time he or she arrives at a crime scene. Officers will make and keep field notes until the assignment is completed.

Fingerprint Patterns:  Everybody’s fingerprints have a distinctive pattern formed by the ridge detail of fingerprints. Fingerprint patterns consist of arches, loops, &  whorls.

Firearm Identification:  Firearm Identification is the scientific process of identifying a gun. Often crime labs look into the type of bullet also through, serial numbers, and estimation of the distance between a gun and a victim.

Firewall:  A firewall can be a device or software program that acts as security between a network or computer and the Internet. Firewalls attempt to block any incoming or outgoing data, which do not meet the setup and specified criteria.

Fluorescent Powders: Fluorescent powders are used by investigators to dust areas which are being examined. Fluorescent powders chemically enhance hidden or latent fingerprints. When an area is viewed under UV or laser lights the fluorescent powders make fingerprints visible to the naked eye.  

FOIA (Freedom of Information Act): Freedom of Information Act or FOIA for short is a federal law that allows for full disclosure of earlier unreleased information. The Freedom of Information Act went into effect in 1967.

Follow-up Investigation:  The process of gathering information after the incident report has been created. You can conduct follow up investigations until the case is ready for prosecution.  

Footwear Impressions: Impressions left by any footwear or feet on a loose or moldable surface such as snow, dirt, & clay. Footwear is not the only thing that can leave impressions, as car tire impressions are often used in court.

Footwear prints:  Prints left behind when footwear or feet covered with something such as mud or blood are placed on a smooth surface. Footwear prints are the same idea as using a stamp on a piece of paper.

Forensic Accountants:  Accountants who specialize with financial evidence. Forensic accountants are often used to testify as expert witnesses. Forensic Accountants are most often used in cases of white-collar crime vs theft.

Forensic Dentistry:  A dentist who has a specialty at looking into dental evidence of an investigation. Forensic dentists are called appon to testify and analyze evidence in court, as they are often expert witness.

Forensic Pathology:  Pathology is a report or study by professionals of how & why people died. Forensic pathology can also be used in examinations to determine physical or sexual abuse.

Forensics: Forensics is a scientific & methodical approach to an investigation. There are several different fields of forensics. Forensics can include medical,financial or even computer experts.

Forgery: Forgery is a document that is false or fake. Forgery happens when something is signed by someone other than the person represented to have signed it.

Fraud: There are several different versions of Fraud but at it’s basic it’s deception made for personal gain. Fraud is intentional misrepresentation or omission of facts. Fraud is done with the purpose of deceiving somebody.


Garbology: Garbology is the study of refuse & trash but in a investigation garbology is looking through somebody’s trash or garbage with the hopes they will find any new information or evidence.

Geographic Profiling: Geoprofiling  is an investigative strategy where the locations of a series of crimes is used to help locate where the offenders live.

GPS (Global Positioning System): Global Positioning System or GPS is a satellite navigation system put together by the United States Air Force. A GPS receiver will give you your geolocation anywhere on the Earth where this is a line of sight to the sky.

Hacking: Hacking or also called cracking is somebody using their computer knowledge to make an unauthorized entry into somebody else’s computer system.

Hallucinogenic Drugs:  Hallucinogens are natural or synthetic drugs that alter somebody’s perception of reality. In large doses hallucinogenic drugs, cause hallucinations and will lead to unpredictable effects.

Hazardous Wastes:  Hazardous waste can include many things but hazardous waste is usually something solid or liquid and is manufacturing by-product. Hazardous waste can be toxic, corrosive or ignitable and can cause a real and serious threat to health to humans, animals, & the environment.  Hazardous wastes take extra care then ordinary waste to be improperly managed.

Hearsay: Hearsay is evidence or testimony by a witness that is repeating something they have hear somebody else say. Hearsay is when a witness has no personal knowledge therefore is classified as inadmissible in court.

Heavy Equipment: Heavy equipment like farm equipment covers a large bracket of tools and other heavy construction equipment.  Heavy Equipment usually will not require any titles or registration.

Heir: A heir is a person who is entitled by law or a will to inherit the estate of somebody else. A heir can have a family or personal history connection to somebody who as died.

Hemident:  Hemident is a reagent used in preliminary field tests at a crime scene for the presence of blood.

Henry System:  The Henry system was created by Edward Henry as a fingerprint classification system. The Henry system facilitated the use of fingerprints in criminal identification back in the 1900’s in England which is still used today in almost every country.

Hepatitis B (HBV): HBV is a virus which is present in blood or other bodily fluids. Hepatitis B can attack the liver, which could lead to death. HBV is a serious health concern where bodily fluids are exposed.

Heroin: Heroin is an opiate which is stronger than drugs like morphine and heroin is sold as an odorless white powder.

Home-Invasion Robbery: Home invasions or robberies are a crime where one or more offenders enter a home to commit a robbery.  

Homicide: Homicide is somebody killing another human.

Hot Spot: A hot spot is a location where more than one crime has been committed. A hot spot is a location where crime happens on a regular basis and is by different offenders.

Hull Identification Number (HIN):  A HIN is a twelve character identification number, which is assigned to every boat in the United States. A hull identification number is similar to a vehicle identification number VIN on automobiles.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus – HIV:  HIV is a blood-borne pathogen, which is also present in other bodily fluids. HIV can progress into AIDS, which weakens your defenses against diseases, which leaves victims vulnerable to different types of infections.

Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a mental state of heightened awareness. Hypnosis can bring subconscious memories to surface, which is helpful if a victim is having a hard time remembering details.   Hypnosis can be big help to ongoing crime investigation.


Identity Theft:  ID theft is assuming somebody’s identity for use in fraudulent transactions. Identity theft is a loss to the victim, as their personal information has been compromised. Identity theft is accomplished by acquiring personal information like date of birth, credit card numbers, &  address).

Immersion Burns:  Immersion burns occur on the skin when a part of the body falls into any container containing hot liquid.

Incident Report:  A written investigative record of any crime, usually put together by law enforcement who is first to the investigation.

Incised Wounds:  Any wounds which are inflicted with a sharp-edged knife or razor. Incised wounds are typically associated with stabbing victims because the wound is narrow at the ends and largest at the center. Because incised wounds are deep in the body there usually is a large amount of bleeding.

Independent Medical Evaluation – IME: Independent Medical Evaluation IME for short is when a third party who has no prior history with an individual is asked to exam and evaluate an individual. The purpose of an IME is often done because of an insurance company trying to gain an independent view point about somebody.  Workers compensation cases will often have independent medical elevator to evaluate the legitimacy of the claim.

Inductive Reasoning:  The thought process of looking at specific details of any crime to arrive at a logical explanation of the crime.Insured: An Insurance policyholder has a contract with an insurance company, which protects them to a varying degree in case of a loss or claim.

Informant: A person who regularly provides information to an investigator is an Informant. In return for the information the informant is returned with money or a  reduced charge.

Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System – IAFIS:  IAFIS is a national online fingerprint and criminal-history database Maintained by the FBI. The Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System can help law enforcement  with identification and response capabilities. IAFIS is made accessible to local law enforcement.

Intellectual Property: Intellectual property is a legal claim to something somebody has created or invented. Intellectual property cases usually involve patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets.

Intelligence: Intelligence is a result from the collection, analysis, integration, and interpretation of available information.

Interviewing: Interviewing is a process of obtaining information from people who have any knowledge which might be helpful in a criminal or civil investigation.

Interrogation: Interrogation is the practice of interviewing people, often without their consent, in order to obtain information regarding crimes. Interrogation usually will involve a direct accusation of guilt.

Interview: Interviewing or questioning a person to determine their understanding of the facts or circumstances related to an investigation.

Investigation:  Investigations is the process of establishing a crime has been committed. Investigations identify and apprehend the suspect, recovering stolen property if any, and assisting in the prosecution of the person charged with the crime.

Investigator: Investigators are officials who gather documents while evaluating evidence and information.

Iodine:  Iodine is a a dye used to help aid in developing latent fingerprints on porous and nonporous surfaces. Iodine has been used for a very long time and is one of the oldest and most proven means of locating prints.

Internet Protocol Address – IP Address: IP Address is an identifier for a computer or device on a computer network. The IP address is a number assigned to every device connected to a computer network.


Jail Booking Report:  A document which has personal information about a suspect. Jail booking reports include fingerprints, a photograph, as well as a list of the suspect’s personal property at the time of booking.

Joyriding: Joyriding is stealing a motor vehicle solely to drive it. After the car has been driven around for the evening it is abandoned. Joyriding is often an initiation into some gangs.

Kinesics:  Kinesics is the relationship between body language and the communication of feelings.

Lacerations:  Wounds inflicted by any blunt objects is called lacerations. Lacerations are usually caused by weapons such as clubs, & pipes.

Latent fingerprints:  Latent fingerprints are created when friction ridges deposit body perspiration and oil on a surfaces they touch. Latent fingerprints are typically invisible to the naked eye and require some effort to be made visible.

Lein: A legal right to keep property belonging to somebody else until their debt is paid.

Liability: Legal liability is both in civil and criminal cases. Liability is an obligation where somebody is liable from a past transaction or events. Liability is a legal responsibility.

Libel: The defamation of a person’s reputation, in writing or by images is libel. Libel is also called slander when it’s in a written format.

Lineup:  Lineups are are a procedure where a number of similar-looking people are shown simultaneously or sequentially to a witness, including the suspect. Lineups are are shown to people who may be able to identify one of them as the perpetrator. Lineups are more commonly done with photos.

Livor Mortis:  Just after death, a purplish color will appears under the skin of a dead body. Livor mortis usually appears on the body closest to the ground. Livor Mortis is the  settling of the blood.

Logical Approach:  An interrogation technique where the interrogator bases their appeals to the suspect on common sense. The logical approach will work best on educated persons,  people with criminal records, & mature adults.

Macroscopic Crime Scene:  Macroscopic Scene is a large or pulled back viewpoint of a crime scene. Macroscopic crime scene details can include things like locations, the victim’s body, cars, and buildings.

Mail Fraud:  Mail fraud covers any scheme which involves the use of mail to defraud individuals.

Malpractice: Professional negligence or misconduct unreasonable lack of professional skill which results in injury or loss to another.

Manslaughter:  A criminal homicide which is committed under circumstances which are not viewed severe enough to constitute murder but that cannot be classified as justifiable or excusable.

Media Statement:   Media statements contain Information which has been released to the local and federal news media outlets.

Meth Labs:   Illegal laboratories that manufacture methamphetamine are named meth labs. Today meth labs range from small one person operations to industrial-size organizations.

Microscopic Scene:  A crime scene which is viewed in terms of specific objects or pieces of evidence associated with a crime. A microscopic scene analysis things like guns, knives, hairs, fibers, and body fluids.

Misdemeanor: Misdemeanors are criminal offense which are less than a felony. Misdemeanors are generally those punishable only by a fine or imprisonment for a term of one year or less.

Mirror:  Mirror or mirroring is matching a person’s actions, words, or mannerisms. Mirroring is a method to eliminate communication barriers, foster trust, and create the flow of desired information.

Mobile Data Terminal – (MDT):  A computer system in a police car that gives a secure communication with 911 and other police units.

Mobile surveillance: The process of following a subject/individual during surveillance in a vehicle.

Money Laundering: The process of making money obtained illegally seem legitimate by filtering it through a business.  The business cheats with their business’s accounts and invoices to launder money into a legitimate financial system.

Morgue:  The Morgue is a crime lab which determines cause of death. When the cause or death is questionable or is other than a known disease the morgue will conduct tests to find the cause of death.


National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime – NCAVC:   The NCAVC is ran by the FBI, an organization that provides investigative and operational assistance to agencies dealing with violent crimes.

National Crime Information Center – NCIC: NCIC is an online system used by the FBI. The National Crime Information Center is an online system of extensive databases on criminals and crime, and the NCIC is available to federal, state, and local agencies.

National Incident-Based Reporting System – NIBRS:  The NIBRS is a FBI program for crime reporting & documenting. Reports in the NIBRS can have far more data than a basic incident report

Neighborhood Canvass:  A systematic approach to interviewing all residents who are in the immediate vicinity of a crime. A neighborhood canvass is a way to gather information from witnesses.

Oath:  Oaths are a formal attestation where a witness swears to tell the truth and acknowledges a the penalties for lying. Under oath is a means of establishing a witness’s competence.

Odometer Fraud:  The crime of rolling back a vehicle’s odometer is called odometer fraud. Altering an odometer so it shows lower mileage than actual driven miles is odometer fraud

Perjury: Perjury is when a person lies or make a false statement in court while under oath.

Phone Break: In an investigation identifying the owner phone number is a phone break. A phone break is a great source of information which can be very valuable in any investigation.

Plaintiff: A plaintiff is the party who brings a lawsuit to law. The plaintiff is hoping for some legal remedy and if the plaintiff wins the court will make a judgement favoring the plaintiff.

Polygraph: A polygraph is used to measure somebody’s heart rate, respiration, & galvanic skin response. Polygraphs are commonly called a lie detector. A polygraph has its limitations because it can only detect signs of physiological stress. A polygraph is used by a trained examiner who looks at the results and interprets  whether one is lying or not.

Preliminary Investigation:  Preliminary investigations are the process undertaken by the first officer to arrive at the scene of a crime. A preliminary investigation can include emergency care, assessment, scene control, & incident reports,

Preponderance of Evidence:  Burden of proof in civil cases is called preponderance of evidence. Evidence presented by one side needs to be more believable than the evidence presented by the opposing side.

Pretext: A ruse or story given to an individual to disguise the reason one’s true intentions. Pretexting is an method to make contact with a subject without raising suspicion.

Primary Scene:  In a crime the location where the initial offense was committed is called the primary scene. In some criminal cases there are several different locations, so Primary Scene is to note it was the location of the first offense.

Probable Cause: Probable Cause is when an officer has suspicion about an individual and has facts or a the circumstances lead a reasonable person to believe that a crime has or is about to be committed.

Property Insurance Loss Register: Property Insurance Loss Register or PILR for short is an insurance industry database, which lists the insureds in burglary & theft claims. The PILR also lists everyone with an insurable interest in fire claims. The PILR’s purpose is to look for repeated patterns with insurance claims and find fraud.

Protective Order:  A protective order is a court order which prohibits the defendant from communicating with the victim. Protective orders can also restrict the defendant entering the victim’s residence, or workplace, school, etc…

Psychological Autopsy:  Like an standard autopsy a psychological autopsy is the analysis of a decedent’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Psychological Autopsies are often done through interviews with people who knew deceased, to determine whether a death was an accident or suicide.

Pyramid Scheme: Pyramid schemes are a fraudulent marketing programs, which is also know as a Ponzi, or a chain-referral scheme. A pyramid scheme works by people buying the right to sell a specified product. With a pyramid scheme you are searching for people to sell the products under you, so you can capture a percentage of their sales.


Radial Fractures:   Radial fractures are the small or large cracks that center around the point of impact in a glass window. Radial fractures are the results of something  hitting or going through a window.

Rape: Rape is a sexual battery crime, where having sexual relations with somebody against their will.Often with rape cases the victim is unconscious or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Rapport:  Rapport is the relationship built in interviews and interrogations. Rapport is the harmonious relationship with the witness or suspect, which needs to be built to foster trust and a meaningful communication.

Rebuttal:  Rebuttals are the process in a court case where the prosecution presents new evidence or calls or recalls a witness to the stand. Rebuttals happen after the defense has closed its case and yielded the floor.

Recorded Statement: Statements or interviews that are recorded.  

Release: A release is signed by an insured or a third party claimant relieving the insurance carrier of any further liability.

Repossession: Repossession can be a forced, or voluntary surrender of merchandise or collateral as a result of the customer’s failure to pay as promised. Repossession is used by lenders to recover as much lost cost as possible by reselling the property.

Retainer: Retainer is money paid by the client to obtain a services from the private investigator to handle the client’s case. A retainer is a deposit towards the investigator’s fees, a retainer is not the full amount due just enough to start the case.

Rigor Mortis:  After death the body’s muscles and joints become extremely stiff.

Robbery:  Robbery is a crime where somebody takes away personal property of another. Robbery is a crime with the intent to permanently steal property from it’s legitimate owner.

Roping: Roping is a unethical process whereby a private detective creates a situation knowing it will cause the claimant to do something specific so that the PI can then videotape or photograph the claimant..

Rough Shadow: Continuing to follow or conduct surveillance on a subject despite the subject being aware of the investigator’s presence.

Rough Sketch:  Rough sketches are drawings made at a crime scene. Rough sketches are not drawn to scale, but list dimensions and distances.

Rules of Evidence:  Rules of evidence is a federal rule which says scientific, or technical knowledge is admissible is a case only if it will help understand the evidence presented.

Salvage Title:  When a car or truck is totalled in an accident the original title issued is sent to the insurance company after it has paid a total-loss claim. A salvage title  remains with the vehicle until it is destroyed, because some cars are saved and rebuilt, and sold with a salvage title which lowers the value of the car.

Salvage Vehicle: A Salvage Vehicle has been damaged so much that the cost of repairing it is more than its fair market value. When a vehicle has a repair bill higher than the fair market value insurances call the car a loss and total it. Instead of repairing the vehicle insurance companies will just pay the fair market value of the car.

Search Patterns: Search patterns are crime scene approach for searching an entire crime scene for evidence.

Secondary Scenes:  When there is a crime where there are more than one crime scene all of the locations after the initial crime scene is called a secondary scene.

Secret Service:  The Secret Service is a federal agency created by Congress in 1865: The Secret Service was formed to combat counterfeiting and starting 1903 the secret service was put in charge of guarding the president.

Semen:  A grayish-white fluid produced in the male reproductive organs is called semen and is ejaculated during an orgasm.

Serial Murder: Serial murder is a series of attacks which has a total oft three or four victims.

Service of Process: Service of process is notifying a person that they has been named as a party to a lawsuit. Service of Process is also used to notify if somebody has been accused of some offense.

Sexual Offenses: Sex offenses are crimes related to a sexual activity like rape, voyeurism, exhibitionism.

Shaken-Baby Syndrome: Shaken Baby Syndrome or SBS is a severe trauma caused by the deliberate and violent shaking of a child.

Shoplifting: Shoplifting is stealing of goods for sale from a retail establishment. Shoplifting is usually somebody hiding products under their clothing then trying to exit the store without paying for the products.

Skiptracing: Skiptracing is finding a person whose whereabouts were unknown. Skiptracing is finding somebody who is missing, lost, or in hiding.

Slander: Slander are false words that will damage someone’s reputation.

Snow Print Wax:   Snow print wax is an aerosol wax which is sprayed on footwear impressions in snow. Snow print wax is used to tint the highlights so that the impressions can be photographed before being cast.

SSN: Social Security Number is a nine digit number assigned to us citizens and permanent residents.

Staged Crime:  Staged crimes are any crime where the offender has altered the crime scene to mislead any investigative efforts.

Stalking: Stalking is following and observing a person persistently and surreptitiously. Stalking is sometimes done out of obsession or derangement.

Statement: Statements are a written or recorded communication detailing the their understanding & knowledge of an investigation.

Stationary Surveillance: Observation of activities of a subject from one vantage point.  AKA stakeout.

Steganography: Steganography is hiding secret data inside public or unprotected location. Steganography could be text file hidden inside of an image or a sound file. Steganography looks at the image, or listening to the sound, trying to find extra information present.

Strategic Intelligence:  Strategic Intelligence is any information which is gathered & analyzed over time. Strategic intelligence will confirm new or recently discovered patterns of criminal activity.

Strong-Armed Robbery: In a robbery where the perpetrator attacks & beats a victim but no weapons are involved.

Swoop and Squat: Swoop & squat is insurance fraud where their is a staged auto collision. Usually a staged vehicle pulls into another’s path and stops, causing an accident.

Subpoenas: Subpoenas are court orders which require the attendance of the witness in court. Subpoenas are often referred to as a Summons.

Subpoena:  Subpoenas are a written order commanding a somebody to appear in court at a specified date & time to testify as a witness.

Subrogation: Subrogation is the substitution of one person for another for legal rights & responsibilities.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: Sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS for short is the sudden & unexpected death of a healthy infant. Sudden infant death syndrome usually happens during sleep.

Surveillance:  Surveillance is usually secretive and continuous observation of a person, place and thing, with the goal to obtain information concerning the activities and identity of individuals.

Suspect:  A person who is seen as possibly being guilty of the crime under investigation.

Sweeping: Sweeping is a technical surveillance countermeasures, which is the process of finding and removing covert listening or video devices. 


Tactical Intelligence:  Tactical intelligence can by any Information that implies immediate action & hopefully lead to arrests. Tactical intelligence can come from many different sources but often derived from surveillance, informants, and intelligence analysis.
Telephone Record Analysis:  In a case investigators use a technique in which telephone records put together to be analyzed. Telephone record analysis is used to obtain information on the relationships between the subscriber and the numbers called.

Testimony: Testimony is evidence given by a competent witness while under oath. A testimony can be a witness describing events at or leading up to a crime.

Threat Assessment:  Determining the risk level posed by a current threat & whether law enforcement should be called in.

Title Fraud: Title fraud is altering, or counterfeiting an automobile title or reassignment form. Title fraud is a method to cover up odometer rollbacks, or title rebuilds.

Theft: In general, the wrongful taking of someone else’s property without that person’s willful consent.

Tort: A Tort is any action that wrongs an injures somebody, and thus forms the basis of a civil lawsuit.

Trade Secret: Trade secrets cover any confidential information, or compilation of information that is used in business. Trade secrets give an advantage over other competitors.

Trapline: Traplines are a telephone service which is used to capture an inbound caller’s information despite their attempt to conceal their number.

Trespass: Trespassing is a criminal offense when somebody stays on another’s private property after being asked to leave.

Trojan Horse:  Trojan horse can have many different applications but for computers a Trojan horse is a computer program that is designed to perform an unwanted & malicious function. Trojan horses are programs that while appearing to legit are actually designed to do something malicious to your computer.

Truth in Mileage Act: The Truth in Mileage Ac was created in 1986 which is Federal legislation that requires documentation & recording of odometer readings every time ownership of a vehicle changes.

Undercover: Being undercover is disguising your identity for the purposes of gaining the trust of an individual or organization. Often people go undercover to learn secret information or conduct an investigation.


Vehicle Canvass:   Vehicle canvassing is a systematic approach to documenting every vehicle in the immediate vicinity of a crime as a means of locating the suspect’s vehicle.

Vehicle Fraud:  Vehicle fraud covers a wide range of illegal activity involving motor vehicles.

Vehicle Identification Number: A vehicle identification number or VIN is a seventeen character identification number assigned to every car manufactured or sold in the United States.

Victim: In a crime the victim is a person or an organization that has suffered injury or loss as the result the crime.

VIN: A VIN or Vehicle Identification Number is a unique serial number, which is  assigned to every automobile by its manufacturer.

VIN Plate:  A VIN or vehicle identification number plate contains the VIN of a vehicle, which attached to the upper left side of the dashboard so that it is visible through the window.

Walk-Through: At a crime scene the investigator’s initial overview is performed by walking through the area or called walk through. The investigator is trying to locate and view the body, identify evidence, or determine procedures for examination.  In a walk through the investigator will make documentations of the scene and body.

Warrant: Warrants are are a written order directing the arrest of a party. A search warrant orders states that a specific location can be searched for items, which if found, can be used in court as evidence.

White Collar Crime:  White collar crimes are any illegal act committed by concealment or guile, rather than physical means. White collar crime can include many different crimes but the goal, to obtain money or property, avoid payment or loss of money or property, or obtain business or personal advantage.

Wiretap: Wiretaps are a method to monitor telephone conversations. Wiretaps are often done secretly in an attempt to learn some information.  

Witness:  A witness is anybody who has firsthand knowledge regarding a crime or who has expert information regarding some aspect of the crime. A witness is most often somebody who saw the crime and reported to lawn enforcement. A Witness is also somebody called to upon by a lawsuit for their testimony.

Worm:  Worms are malicious computer program that attacks its system directly. Worms  spread rapidly from computer to computer through the Internet or e-mails.