Criminal Defense

What Happens During Booking When You Are Arrested?

April 23, 2024 by Seppi Esfandi in Criminal Defense  
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What Happens During Booking?

Booking results in an official arrest record; therefore, booking records contain details about individuals brought into custody. The duration of the booking process varies; it can take several hours at its slowest. The time needed hinges on the extent of standard booking procedures carried out, the volume of individuals being booked simultaneously, and the number of officers involved in the process. The arrested individuals who want to post bail during this booking process may need to wait for it to end before their release is finalized.

Steps in the Booking Process

During the booking procedure, a law enforcement official routinely collects the criminal suspect’s personal information about the alleged offense, any existing prior criminal record, and primary and secondary evidence. Police officers’ booking protocols typically comprise the steps listed below.

1. Gathering Essential Details

The person’s identity, contact information, information regarding the suspected offense and any criminal charges (including any applicable laws), and other vital data will be gathered by law enforcement officials. A significant portion of this data is sourced from the police citation or the description of the incident.

2. Capturing a Mug Shot

Afterward, the person takes a series of photos, known as “mug shots,” which typically include their height and other identifying details related to the incident. Additionally, the mug shot serves to document the individual’s physical state at the time of arrest, which can be pertinent to allegations of police misconduct or prior involvement in a dispute prior to custody.

3. Confiscating Clothing and Personal Property

After the mugshot session, the suspect might swap their attire for a standard issue prison outfit and hand over their personal belongings unless they are deemed illegal, serve as evidence for the crime, or may be used to commit a crime. These items remain under custody until the individual is set free.

4. Fingerprinting

Next comes fingerprinting, where an officer captures impressions of the suspect’s fingerprints. The suspect rolls each of their ten fingers from side to side to ensure all prints are recorded. Fingerprints are routinely included in booking records and are commonly stored in a nationwide database overseen by the FBI. This database is accessible to various local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. These prints are compared to the suspect’s if fingerprint evidence from the crime is present to see if they match or rule them out of suspicion. The suspect may also be asked to submit hair, saliva, or other DNA samples.

5. Conducting a Full Body Search

Police commonly conduct brief pat-down searches upon arrest, but more intrusive and potentially humiliating is the strip search often conducted during booking. This process aims to prevent weapons and drugs from entering jails by necessitating that arrestees strip naked and undergo a thorough body search. Strip searches are generally deemed legal, even for minor offenses and in the absence of evidence suggesting possession of weapons or contraband.

6. Checking for Warrants

Police examine the database for any outstanding warrants the defendant may have in previous criminal cases. Occasionally, they may inadvertently solve other crimes if they arrest someone for an unrelated offense and find a match. Keep in mind that everything you say freely might be used against you, so it’s best to remain silent and contact a defense counsel even though your Miranda rights protect you when in police custody and being questioned.

7. Health Assessment

Following arrest, the detention personnel conduct an essential health evaluation to ensure the suspect doesn’t require immediate medical attention and won’t pose any harm to others or themselves. This assessment may include blood tests, x-rays, and other necessary tests based on the individual’s needs.

8. Detainment

Subsequently, the individual will be confined in a holding cell, awaiting trial or the posting of bail. In criminal cases, decisions are made based on proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s worth noting that typically, the primary concern after arrest is securing release from detention.

Jail officials also question arrested individuals about their current and past gang memberships, if any, as well as other outside relationships to lessen the possibility of violence and injuries before being detained.

It is common for those with lesser misdemeanor charges to be released on their own recognizance.

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How to Win Your Case

We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

  1. Don’t ever talk to the police
  2. Do not discuss your case with anyone
  3. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
  4. Tell police you need to contact your attorney
  5. Never consent to any search by the police
  6. If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
  7. Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
  8. Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
  9. Information on your cell phone is evidence
  10. Early Intervention is the key

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