What Happens During Booking?

August 18, 2018


Following an arrest, a criminal suspect is taken to the local jail or detention center to await their first appearance. At that time, the suspect will also be booked into the jail system. Often times, a suspect cannot be released or post bail until the booking process is complete. Depending on how busy the prison is or how many other people are being booked, the booking process can take a while. But what exactly happens during booking?


The Booking Process


Generally, each jail or detention center has its own policies and procedures in how to go about booking a suspect. However, the following steps are generally seen in the booking process of most jails or detention centers:

  • Recording information about the suspect and the crime of which they are accused; After an arrest, the booking process serves as documentation, so information such as the defendant’s name and the alleged crime will be recorded. 

  • Taking a mug shot; a mug shot can help to keep things clear when there are two people with the same name, and it can establish an arrestee’s condition at the time of the arrest.It also may be helpful in the future, such as in cases when a defendant skips bail or if the person is accused of committing another crime months or years later.

  • Taking into custody and inventorying the suspect’s clothing and property; Illegal items or dangerous clothing, such as a belt, may be taken from the arrestee. The arrestee may be searched in general.

  • Taking fingerprints; This is one of the most common things you can expect to happen during the booking process. Fingerprints are taken for the record and as an informational resource for officers locally and nationally today and in the future.

  • Undergoing a full body search;

  • Looking up the suspect’s criminal history; Information about past outstanding warrants and other details about the defendant’s criminal history will be obtained. This, by the way, is one of the factors that a judge will use to determine the bail amount.

  • Taking a medical exam; As relevant, a blood test or X-rays may be taken. The purpose is to protect officers and other inmates.

  • Gathering information about any medical conditions or personal problems










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