What goes on during the booking process

The booking process is probably one of the most well-known aspects that occur during an arrest. We have all seen it portrayed in tv and film but is it exactly like what actually happens? Well, yes and no. It tends to be not quite as dramatic. Here is what actually happens during the booking process:

Collecting Basic Information

After an arrest, the first thing that will happen is law enforcement will have to collect basic information such as name, contact information as well as information about the pending charges, and if there is any type of record already in place for the defendant. If there are, the new charges would be added to the record or otherwise, a record would be created for the database.

 Taking Mug Shots

Following the collection of information, the defendant will next need to pose for mug shots. These are headshots that will be added to their record in case police need identifying information.

 Collection of personal belongings

Once mug shots have been completed, law enforcement will proceed by collecting all the personal belongings of the defendant. This means any clothes they came in with as well as personal belongings such as wallet, phone, and keys. As long as the property is not confiscated for evidence, these items will be held securely and returned to the defendant once they have been released. After all the proper information and pictures have been taken, law enforcement will then collect any belongings the t defendant had on them during the time of the arrest.

Obtaining Fingerprints

Fingerprints are probably one of the most well-known parts of the booking process. This is when the police have the defendant place their fingers in ink and then leave an imprint on paper. This is done because every person has a different set of prints and it can be used as identifying information in not only the current case but also as a reference in future cases if law enforcement ever needs to verify if the defendant is involved.

Cavity and Body Search

This is probably the step that gives people the most anxiety but it is necessary to ensure that the population of the jail is safe. During a body search, the defendant will be taken to a private room and met by a same-sex officer who will first do a visual search for any contraband or weapons. In some cases, they may also require a cavity search to ensure that nothing is being smuggled in. This can feel jarring and embarrassing but it is important to remember that these officers do this every day and the officers will be professionals and should pass no judgment while completing this task.

Health Evaluation

Just as with the cavity search, a health evaluation must be completed to ensure the safety of the defendant as well as the entire jail population. This health check should feel very similar to a general wellness exam. The doctor is making sure that the defendant does not have any contagious disease or possible mental health problems that could put themselves or others in danger. If there is found to be an issue, it may lead to the defendant being kept away from the general population.


The final step on the journey will be where the defendant is taken to the detention facility and held there until the bond hearing takes place. In the end, the number of steps that happen during the booking process can be considered overwhelming, but it’s important to note that it all goes rather quickly and should be accomplished in a professional and courteous manner.