The Booking Process in California

The Booking Process in California 1

The booking process is the procedural set of events that happen when you are detained by law enforcement for suspicion of a crime.  If you have never dealt with the police in this capacity or have never been arrested, then this can be an understandably stressful and anxious time.  Here is a quick run-through of the usual steps that happen during this process

Basic Information

The first thing to occur is an officer will gather information about you to begin the process of creating a report.  This includes your basic information such as your name, address, charges, and other demographic information.

Mug Shots

After your information has been collected, you will have to have a picture taken of the front and side views of your face along-side your name and id number.

Collection of Personal Items

After your photo has been taken, you will have to surrender all of your personal items for safekeeping.  When you are released, your items may be released to you.  Illegal or contraband items, or something that may be considered evidence will be withheld.  After this, you are usually issued your jail uniform.

Fingerprint Collection

After you have changed into your jail uniform, you will have to have your fingerprints taken.  These are added to your file along with your mugshot and other information.

Body Search

Once all of your information has been collected, an officer will perform a full-body search to make sure that no contraband or weapons are being smuggled in.

Search For Outstanding Warrants

Law enforcement will also search local and national databases to see if you have any active warrants out.

Health Physical

You will also be subjected to a health check, similar to a physical, to assess if you are healthy enough to stay in the general population area of the jail, but also to check that you are not ill or at risk of injury.  Blood and other types of testing may also occur.


At this point, the defendant is held in the jail until either they are able to appear in court or their bond has been paid, whichever comes first.


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