Statutory laws, agency practices, terminology, and case management systems vary across and within states. MFJ has developed a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to map all data to a uniform coding schema that allows for apples-to-apples comparisons within and across jurisdictions. This data processing SOP is used to code data for both the National Data Portal and Commons. This includes, but is not limited to:
Case is defined as all charges associated with the same individual defendant that were filed in court (or referred for prosecution, in the case of declinations) on the same date. MFJ assumes that when a prosecutor files multiple charges together, even when they stem from separate incidents, they intend to resolve these charges simultaneously. This may differ from how each agency defines case.
Case Seriousness is defined by the most serious charge, according to the state’s offense severity classification, that was present at each stage of charging: referral, filing, and conviction.
Charge Descriptions are standardized using a crosswalk that ensures statutory definitions across states match a uniform code. The crosswalk was originally developed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and it has been updated by MFJ.
Pretrial Release Decision represents the court’s initial ruling regarding whether or not to release the defendant pending case disposition, and whether the release should be subject to monetary or nonmonetary conditions.
Case Disposition indicates the type of action that removed the case from the prosecutor’s or the court’s docket, excluding any actions stemming from appeals or violations of probation. Case disposition categories are defined as follows:
Case rejections are defined differently depending on whether the criminal procedure in the jurisdiction requires law enforcement to refer the case to the prosecutor’s office for screening or whether law enforcement can file the charges directly in court without prosecutorial review: