The Booking Process

We’ve all watched cop shows.  The police, one a serious, by-the-book kind of guy and the other a carefree prankster, are called in on a crime, make an arrest, and bring the suspect in to be booked and jailed, all the while making witty quips and observations and dreaming of retirement.

  1. But what happens in real life?  Fortunately, most of us have never had to go through the booking process and hopefully never will, but here’s what you can expect if you do.Your vital information is recorded.  Mainly, this is your full name and the crime for which you were arrested.

    They take your mugshot.  At this point, you are photographed.  This is not merely to identify you as the person arrested, but it also records your height, which could be important if your case goes to trial, and also your physical condition at the time of arrest.  If there are any marks, this could be important evidence of an altercation, whether it be at the time of your arrest or during the suspected crime.

    Your clothing and personal property are taken.  Your clothing and personal property may be evidence of the suspected crime, in which case, they will not be returned to you until after your trial and if there’s an appeal, they may hold onto it longer than that.  Obviously, if you had illegal items on you at the time of your arrest, you will not get those back but you should be able to get all of your items back when and if you post bail.

    You are fingerprinted.  Most jails today take your fingerprints using computers so the days of ink-covered fingers are a thing of the past.  After your fingerprints are taken, they are entered into the FBI’s national database and can be used as evidence in the current crime or any others they may have on file.  Depending on the nature of the crime, you may also have to give a DNA sample by hair, saliva or blood which, like fingerprints, will be entered into a national DNA database indefinitely.

    You may have to endure a full body search.  Although these aren’t performed on everybody, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that strip searches are legal even for minor traffic violations if the defendant is arrested and is going to be put in jail.  They are executed to prevent the loss of any evidence in your crime, as well as to keep any drugs or weapons from being smuggled into jail.

    Your name is searched for any outstanding warrants.  The booking officer will check the database to see if you have any outstanding warrants for your arrest.  If you do, it may affect whether or not you are allowed to be released on bail.  Often, major crimes are solved when someone is arrested for a minor infraction.

    You undergo a health screening.  The reason for a health screening is twofold.  First, you may be in need of immediate medical attention that you didn’t realize you needed or kept to yourself.  For the protection of the prison population, you will be screened for tuberculosis (with an X-ray) or for any sexually transmitted diseases (with a blood test).

    You are incarcerated.  

The entire booking process can take a considerably long time if there are many people being processed at the same time that you are, if all of the steps listed above are being taken and how many police officers are involved so it’s important for you to be polite and cooperative during the process.  Once you have completed the booking process, you will have a bail hearing to determine whether you will be released on your own recognizance or if and how much bail will be determined and you can call a bail bondsman to arrange your release.

At Mercy Bail Bonds, we know how difficult and frightening the entire process can be.  Call us 24/7 at (727)856-7775 and our professional bail agents will work quickly to get you out of jail.