A form of conditional early release from prison (before the full term of imprisonment expires). Upon violation of a parole condition, a parolee may be placed back in prison to complete the remainder of the sentence. In the federal system, parole was abolished with the passage of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 and does not apply to defendants sentenced for offenses committed on or after November 1, 1987.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P)

Networked systems that work like an organized collective by allowing individuals to interact directly with others in the P2P environment. In the case of Bitcoin, the network is built in such a way that each user is broadcasting the transactions of other users.


ricking someone into giving you their personal information, including login information and passwords, credit card numbers, and so on by imitating legitimate companies, organizations, or people online. Phishing is often done through fake emails or links to fraudulent websites.

Plea Agreement

An agreement whereby a defendant pleads guilty instead of proceeding to trial. The agreement contains promises that the prosecutor and defendant must each abide by. Each party to the plea agreement usually gains some benefit and gives up (or waives) a right in return for that benefit.


A statement, generally of guilty or not guilty, made formally by the defendant before the judge.

Ponzi Scheme

A form of fraud in which belief in the success of a nonexistent investment is fostered by the payment of quick purported returns to the first investors from money invested by later investors, which in turn encourages more victims to invest.

Predicate Offense

A prior conviction that is the basis of an increased sentence for the instant offense.

Presentence Report (“PSR”)

A report, filed under seal by a probation officer, which contains information about the offense and offender, the statutory range of punishment, and the guidelines calculation, as well as any bases for imposing a sentence above or below the guideline range.

Presentence Writer

A probation officer who conducts presentence investigations of defendants and writes presentence reports containing the guidelines determinations and other information relevant to sentencing.

Pretrial Services Officer

An officer of the court responsible for monitoring a person who has been charged with a federal offense and has been released on bond while that person awaits trial or sentencing.

Prior Sentence

A sentence for criminal conduct that is not part of Relevant Conduct that was imposed prior to sentencing on the instant offense. See USSG §4B1.2(a).


A sentencing option instead of a sentence of imprisonment, although probation may involve a condition of a short amount of incarceration (such as weekends in jail), confinement in a halfway house, or home detention. A person on probation is monitored by a probation officer and must follow certain rules announced by the judge at the time of sentencing and listed on the judgment form.

Probation Officer

An officer of the court responsible for monitoring offenders on probation or supervised release. Probation officers also conduct presentence investigations on offenders and write presentence reports to determine the proper guideline range and to provide the judge with information about the defendant relevant to sentencing.


Representative of the Department of Justice (in federal court) responsible for bringing and prosecuting charges against a person or organization. The prosecutor represents the interests of society. Less formally referred to as “the government”.