Jamahl Kersey April 8, 2016 No Comments

If you’ve never been arrested, you may not understand what occurs after a person has been arrested for a crime. Suspects aren’t just thrown into jail immediately after they’ve been arrested. Before people who are arrested for crimes are placed in jail cells, several procedures have to occur. Here are the steps involved in what happens during a jail booking.

Processing Paperwork

The first step, which is also known as a “processing”, involves processing paperwork. This involves recording a suspect’s personal information, including a full name, date of birth (DOB), his or her of employment, address, social security number and medical data. While this used to be done manually, most booking records today are computerized.

Mug Shots

Next, photos or “mug shots” are taken of a suspect or defendant. These photos are used to physically document defendants at the time when they’re arrested. Photos also are useful in showing the physical condition of defendants. This is important because these photos can show proof of if a defendant was in a physical altercation prior to the arrest.

Also, mug shots are used for protection against mistaken identity. For example, sometimes there are people in jail who have identical names. Several mug shots are taken of each defendant. After the mug shots are taken, they’re printed out and then used for various purposes, including name tag identification, cell tags and files.


Suspects are fingerprinted, and the fingerprints are entered into a federal database. This is needed for identifying prisoners, as well as for comparing crime scene evidence. Even suspects with prior arrests, who already have their fingerprints on file, have be fingerprinted. Information on suspects is checked for criminal backgrounds against a nationwide database to see if there have been other histories of arrests.

Full-Body Search and Personal Property Confiscation

Suspects must undergo full-body searches to ensure that they aren’t bringing any smuggled goods or weapons with them into jail. Also called a “strip search,” a full-body search is extremely humiliating but is necessary. However, they’re done by jail employees who are of the same sex as the suspect. 

Personal property confiscation is the next step. This entails taking away car keys, wallets and other personal items. Prisoners don’t get back their personal belongings until they’re released from jail.

Considerations and Cautions

  • How long does a booking take? The slowest bookings can entail hours. The length of time it takes for a booking procedure can depend on several factors, such as how many police officers are working and the number of people have been arrested during the same time period.
  • Suspects must have health screenings to protect other prisoners and the prison staff. This involves taking blood test for checking for communicable diseases as AIDS and gonorrhea. X-rays, for detecting tuberculosis, are also done before prisoners can associate with the general prison population.
  • Shoe laces and belts may be removed for suspects who are considered to be self-destructive or a threat to others.
  • Even suspects arrested for seemingly minor crimes, such as unpaid traffic tickets, may have to go through full-body strip searches.
  • Bail hearings are also conducted to decide if a suspect can be released while awaiting his or her pending trail. They’re also done to set the amount of bail. After bail has been posted, by either a bail bond agent or the defendant, the suspect is released.
  • Suspects who have pending arrest warrants generally aren’t released on bail.

It’s only until the police begin questioning suspects, regarding what occurred at arrest scenes, or when they’ve been placed in a lineup with other defendants, that a criminal defense lawyer is needed. At this time, it’s important that they consult a qualified criminal defense attorney and not take part in answering any more questions. If you, or someone you know, has been arrested and needs help, don’t hesitate to contact us.