When a person is arrested, they’re taken immediately to the local police station or jail to undergo booking and processing. If the person hasn’t been arrested before, the situation can be pretty scary. After all, most people’s general knowledge doesn’t really include the jail booking process and how it works.

The booking process is the method law enforcement uses to verify the identity of the person they have in custody and to get them entered into the jail system. Depending on how busy the jail is at the time of the arrest, the entire process can take anywhere from one hour to several hours to complete. Generally, the booking process will include:

  • Recording the arrestee’s name and the nature of their crime in the police computer blotter
  • Taking photographs to go with the booking record
  • If there were any physical alterations with police, they will be noted
  • Record the arrestee’s fingerprints and run them through a crime database
  • Check for additional state or federal warrants
  • Conduct a full-body search
  • Set bail

Above are the typical steps included when going through the booking process at a local police station. If the arrestee is taken instead to a county jail, additional steps would include:

  • Removing the arrestee’s clothes and personal items and replacing them with jail-issued attire
  • Health screening to check for injuries and diseases
  • Ask about gang affiliations

Once the booking process has been completed, bail will be set and it will be possible to obtain a defendant’s release via bail bond. The bail bond process can be started at any time – even while the arrestee is going through the booking process. It can’t be completed, though, until bail has been set. Once that happens, a bail agent can post the bond any time of day or night and the defendant will be released once they are processed out of the jail system.