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Criminal procedure


Following arrest, an accused person is taken into police custody and booked or processed at the jail or detention facility. This booking process varies from state to state, county to county, and in the federal system, but generally includes the following steps:

• Collection of Information—The accused person’s name, address, telephone number, driver’s license number, place of employment, and other personal information is recorded, with information related to the criminal offense for which the defendant was arrested.

• Clothing and Personal Property Taken—The accused person will be given a jail uniform and their personal clothing articles and other personal property (wallet, phone, keys, purse) will be taken and held until they are released from jail—unless the accused’s clothing or personal property items may contain evidence of the crime, such as blood or DNA evidence, or property such as drugs or a knife, or electronic data on their phone or computer.

• Mug Shot—The accused person is photographed—usually from multiple angles, such as front and right and left profile—and their height is recorded.

• Fingerprinting and DNA Collection—An officer will place the accused’s fingers on an ink pad and roll the finger from side to side to capture all elements of the print on paper, or will capture the accused’s fingerprints electronically. The accused may also be required to submit a DNA sample (saliva swab, blood) depending on the nature of the crime and the jurisdiction.

• Health Screening—Booking officers may ask the accused health-related questions (diabetes, heart conditions, etc.) and conduct blood tests or X-rays to determine if the accused is in need of immediate health care.

• Full-Body Search—A full-body search or strip search requires the accused to remove all clothing for a visual search (and sometimes a body cavity search) that is designed to prevent weapons, drugs, or other contraband from entering the jail. These searches have generally been upheld by the courts when done for these purposes. See Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, 132 S.Ct. 1510 (2012).

• Database Search For Outstanding Warrants—The booking officers may run a database search for outstanding warrants for the accused’s arrest in the same or other counties, states, or federal jurisdictions.

• Incarceration—Upon completion of these booking procedures, the accused will generally be placed in a holding cell or in the general jail population to await trial or the posting of bail.

Unless an accused person has been arrested for a very serious crime (murder) they can usually secure release from jail by posting bail or, for less serious offenses, by signing an agreement to show up for future court proceedings—known as release on own recognizance (ROR) or release on personal recognizance (PR).

In Texas, following an arrest, the accused is taken into custody and undergoes a booking process that includes the collection of personal information, confiscation of personal property, mug shots, fingerprinting, and possibly DNA collection. The nature of the crime may dictate whether DNA is taken. Health screenings are conducted to identify any immediate medical needs. A full-body search is performed to prevent contraband from entering the jail. The accused's information is checked against databases for outstanding warrants. After booking, the accused is typically held in a cell to await trial or the opportunity to post bail. For less serious offenses, the accused may be released on their own recognizance (ROR) or personal recognizance (PR), which involves a written agreement to appear in court without the need to post bail. The specifics of the booking process and pretrial release can vary by jurisdiction within Texas, but the general procedures align with federal standards and are designed to ensure the safety of the jail environment and the integrity of the criminal justice process.

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