The Jail Booking Process

Hey there! Have you ever wondered how long it takes to book someone in jail? Whether it’s from watching TV shows or hearing news stories, we often hear about people getting "booked" but might not know what that really involves or how long it takes. The jail booking process is combined with multiple steps. Someone being arrested and convicted of a crime is sent to the jail where a booking officer will collect a variety of things, and help get all evidence and information into the system. Today, I'm diving into the details of bookings and arrests to shed some light on what does it mean to be booked in jail.

Jail Bookings 

Jail bookings tend to consist of 9 separate steps, all of which are in this article. Please note that these steps may not happen in this order, but according to the jail, that a suspect is booked at.

a barbed wire fence with a prison in the back ground

Step #1 Collecting name and crime being convicted of

A booking officer will collect any useful information from the man or woman convicted, such as the name of the person and criminal activity that was committed. Once these are obtained and in the system, the malefactor will begin the next step. 

Step #2 Mug Shot

The suspect then begins to pose for his mug shot and gets his/her photo in the system and will be paired with all other information in the booking system. Mugshots are used for things like telling two people apart that have the same name, having an updated picture in the system in case of release or escape. Mugshots also help police to know the condition of the malefactor in case of evidence needed against a claim of unlawful force and to show whether the suspect had any fights before the time of the arrest.  

santa claus mug shot

Step #3 Removal and Replacement of Clothing

All clothing of the suspect is removed and replaced with jail appropriate clothing. If requested by the suspect, they may be able to keep some personal items such as a bracelet or watch. The booking officer or state can hold any personal items if they can be used for evidence in a crime. Other personal items and clothing will be returned once the suspect is released from jail. 

several items of clothing and a pair of shoes

Step #4 FingerPrints 

Collecting fingerprints from a malefactor is one of the most critical steps of the jail booking process. Once suspects give prints to the booking officers at the jail, it will be entered into a database across local, state, and federal agencies, and will be maintained and used by the FBI. 

hand cuffs and a key on a fingerprint page

Step #5 Full Body Inspection

A police officer will usually do a quick pat-down search at the time of arrest, but a more advanced check will be done when booked to check for smuggled drugs or even hidden weapons. Suspects will be required to remove all clothing as the booking officer searches for any concealed items, even if the suspect has a small offense on record and has no sign of hidden or smuggled items this step may still be required. 

magnifying glass over an eye

Step #6 Checking Records

Booking officers will then check to see if there are any warrants in your name. They check for warrants ranging from small ones like unpaid parking tickets to the larger possibilities like murder charges. 

Step # 7 Health Screening

Suspects are given a screening test and blood tests, to control the safety of staff and other inmates. These can determine if there are any sexually transmitted diseases, other dangerous diseases, or types of tuberculosis.

x ray screen of a human hand

Step #8 Asking Questions (Gang Related Afflictions)

To prevent any injuries or harm to the suspect, they will be asked about any gang-related instances or if they have been involved with a gang or have any destructive relationship in or outside of the jail. Depending on the answers of the suspect, they could be put in protective custody or a separate part of the jail from other inmates.

Step #9 DNA Testing 

A DNA test is not always required, but suspect may be subject to giving having one to put in the DNA database. 

several microscops lined up next to each other in a long counter

How Long Does it Take to Get Booked in Jail?

What Does "Booked" Mean?

Once again, let's clarify what being booked actually means. When someone is arrested, being booked is the next step where the police station records their information. This includes:

  • Taking their personal details like name and date of birth
  • Recording information about the alleged crime
  • Taking photographs (also known as mugshots)
  • Collecting fingerprints
bronze analog clock that says 12:15

Factors That Affect Booking Time

So, how long does it take to book someone in jail? It's not a one-size-fits-all answer. Several factors can influence the time it takes, but usually a couple hours at most:

  • Severity of the Crime: More serious charges might require more detailed investigations.
  • Staff Availability: Fewer staff members can mean longer wait times.
  • Number of Arrestees: More people being booked at the same time can slow down the process.
  • Technology and Resources: Efficient systems can speed things up.

Typical Booking Process Timeline

time line infographic - Arrival at the Station: Once the person arrives, they are held in a temporary holding area. Personal Information Recorded: This usually takes about 10-30 minutes. to Fingerprinting and Photographs: This part can be quick, around 15-20 minutes, if there are no issues. to Property Collection: Personal items are collected and stored, which takes about 5-10 minutes. to Waiting Periods: there might be waiting times between each step.

Here’s a rough breakdown of what might happen and how long each step could take during a typical booking process:

Thank you for reading this article “Jail Booking Process.” If you or someone you love is in jail and you need help bailing them out, Sportsmans Bail Bonds is the place for you. We will do our best to get you results as fast as possible and bring your family home to you. You can call us at 801-623-6877 or contact us online.