Columbus Junction, Iowa
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Law Enforcement Terms for the Law Abiding Citizen
For most citizens, almost everything they know about their local law enforcement officers comes from television. But even if you follow the letter of the law, knowing who's out there protecting the streets and what their specific responsibilities are is a good thing. What follows are a few terms that can help the average person sort out the shades of blue in the law enforcement community.
Jail - Differs from prison in one significant manner, not every inmate has necessarily been convicted of a crime. Some inmates who have been arrested and charged with a crime, but are unable to come up with bail, may await their trial in jail. Once a person is convicted of a serious crime, they are usually sent to a state or federal prison.
County Sheriff - Generally the top law enforcement official at the county level. Sheriffs are generally elected officials and may or may not have any previous criminal justice experience. In many sparsely populated areas the Sheriff's department serves as the local police force.
Criminal History Check - Because all adult arrests are a matter of public record, any citizen can access them. Most police and sheriff’s departments will, for a fee, print out a list of arrests and convictions for any individual.
Felony - Any crime that carries a minimum one year sentence is usually considered a felony. The consequences of a felony conviction are more severe than a misdemeanor.
Misdemeanor - Crimes that carry a minimum sentence of less than a year. That sentence is usually carried out in the county jail rather than a state or Federal prison.
Since 1940, the National Sheriffs' Association has been dedicated to serving the community and establishing public safety through law enforcement. Providing security on a national, state and local level.