Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Book ‘em, Dano.

Booking records provide information about the people who are brought to jail. Because booking creates an official arrest record, arrested suspects who can post bail immediately often can’t be released until after the booking process is complete. Even suspects who receive citations in lieu of being taken to jail often must go through a booking process within a few days of their arrest.

How Long Does Booking Take?

At its slowest, the booking process may take hours to complete. How long it takes depends on how many of the standard booking procedures are conducted (explained below), the number of arrestees being booked at the same time, and the number of police officers involved in the booking process.

Typical Steps in the Booking Process

Step 1: Recording the suspect’s name and the crime for which the suspect was arrested

In olden days, this information became part of a handwritten police blotter; now virtually all booking records are computerized.

Step 2: Taking a "mug shot"

Mug shots have a variety of possible uses. For instance, a mug shot can help to determine which of two people with the same name was arrested. A mug shot can also help to establish a suspect’s physical condition at the time of arrest. The suspect’s physical condition at arrest can be relevant to a claim of police use of unlawful force or to whether the suspect had been in an altercation before being arrested.

Step 3: Taking the suspect’s clothing and personal property into police custody

At a suspect’s request, some booking officers allow suspects to keep small personal items like a wristwatch. Any articles taken from the suspect must be returned upon release from jail, unless they constitute contraband or evidence of a crime.

Step 4: Taking fingerprints

Fingerprints are a standard part of a booking record, and are typically entered into a nationwide database maintained by the FBI and accessible to most local, state, and federal police agencies. Comparing fingerprints left at the scene of a crime to those already in the database helps police officers identify perpetrators of crimes. Most likely these will consist of black ink and a print card.  More modern police departments may have a print scanner, a device that electronically scans the print and saves the data.

Step 5: Conducting a full body search

Police officers routinely make cursory pat-down inspections at the time of arrest. Far more intrusive (and to many people, deeply humiliating) is the strip search that is often part of the booking process. To prevent weapons and drugs from entering a jail, booking officers frequently require arrestees to remove all their clothing and submit to a full body search.

Strip searches are legal even when the arrestee has been brought in for a relatively minor crime, such as an infraction; and even when there are no facts that would suggest that the arrestee is carrying a weapon or contraband. In a 2012 case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that such a search was legitimate even in the case of a person who was stopped for a traffic violation and arrested for failure to pay an outstanding fine (the fine had in fact been paid long ago).  (Florence v. County of Burlington, No. 10-945.)

Step 6: Checking for warrants

The booking officer checks to see if an arrestee has any other charges pending, ranging from unpaid parking tickets to murder charges in other states. Suspects with warrants pending are normally not released on bail.

Step 7: Health screening

To protect the health and safety of jail officials and other inmates, the booking process may include X-rays (to detect tuberculosis) and blood tests (to detect sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and AIDS).

Step 8: Eliciting information relevant to incarceration conditions

To reduce the likelihood of violence and injuries, jail officials often ask arrestees about gang affiliations, former gang affiliations, and other outside relationships. Depending on the answers, an inmate may have to be placed in protective custody or housed in one section of a jail rather than another. Routine questioning along these lines does not constitute an “interrogation” that requires officers to give a Miranda warning to the suspect. Information that suspects disclose in response to a booking officer’s questions may be admissible in evidence under the “routine booking question exception” to Miranda. (Pennsylvania v. Muniz, U.S. Sup. Ct. (1990).

Step 9: DNA sample

Suspects may be required to provide DNA samples that are entered in national DNA databases.

This information was excerpted from The Criminal Law Handbook, by Paul Bergman, J.D., and Sara J. Berman, J.D.


Chris said...

That was interesting, Jody. Probably much the same would apply here, although there might be minor differences between our two countries.

The biggest surprise to me was the allowance of strip searches no matter how minor the offence. Obviously there are times when it's vital to know what the arrested person's got secreted on them, but for across the board offences... hmmm. Would jaywalking (which we don't consider an offence here) be included in that? Is the police officer required to justify the use of one if the offender turns out to be innocent, or objects to the way they were treated for what was only a minor infringement? (It seems not, if your case above is anything to go by) Could it not technically be considered an assault? Where else, other than for medical reasons, would someone be allowed to force someone to strip naked and conduct an intimate examination on them and the person have no say in it. Are there any figures as to how often someone charged with a minor offence is strip searched? I just wonder if there mightn't be a temptation, if someone's a bit gobby or tries to throw their weight around like certain celebs or hugely wealthy business people who've behaved appallingly on planes, for the police to conduct a strip search just to bring them down a peg or two. Or are there parameters in place to prevent that?

Jody E. Lebel said...

@ Chris. All good questions. To answer the last couple first; yes, there are abusive officers who overdo things. When there are enough complaints lodged against an officer, said officer will most likely be sanctioned in some manner. There are always going to be people in every profession that abuse their power.

As far as strip searching wealthy persons or celebs, I suppose it could happen, but knowing the sh*t storm of publicity that's going to surround such an action, an officer would have to nuts to do it.

Here is some more on the subject that I think answers most of your questions:

"So just when can the police force you to undergo a strip search?

As with all police searches, police generally need a reasonable suspicion that you are concealing a weapon or contraband in the area the officer wishes to search. This means that there must be specific facts or circumstances that justify a strip search or body cavity search.

If a police officer reasonably believes that you may be hiding drugs, weapons, or any other illegal object under your clothes, the officer may be able to order you to undergo a strip search. Some factors that can potentially justify such a search may include the suspect acting high or having drug paraphernalia lying around.

The laws covering strip searches are somewhat unclear and can vary according to jurisdiction. Ten states forbid strip searches in minor crimes. In general, a strip search is considered to be inappropriate if it is performed:

* Without a reasonable
suspicion of criminal activity
* By an officer of the opposite sex
* In the presence of persons of the opposite sex
* In a manner that exposes the person’s body to the public
* In a manner that is degrading, insulting, offensive, or overly intrusive.

Not surprisingly, such justification is often the focus of civil lawsuits.

If you are taken to a jail house or prison, however, authorities may have even more leeway to order a strip search. Due to special concerns surrounding safety and security in jail facilities, corrections officers may intrude on someone's rights as long as the intrusion is related to reasonable objectives. This is true even if they do not have an individualized suspicion that you are hiding anything.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld such strip searches behind bars. And these types of searches can be allowed even if the person was arrested for a non-violent crime like a traffic stop or littering.\

Outside of jail or prison, it can be very difficult to determine just when a police officer has "reasonable suspicion" to perform a strip search or body cavity search, and it will depend upon the individual circumstances surrounding your arrest. If you believe that you have been unlawfully searched, you may want to contact an attorney to learn more about your rights."

Thank you to www.findlaw.com

Just to add some of my own experiences; I saw (in court) a jailhouse security video of a woman who was visiting her man in the jail. She sat in the visitor waiting room for awhile and then went to the ladies room and when she squatted over the toilet (we could only see her feet under the stall door) dozens of packets of heroin began falling all over the floor. She had inserted them into her body and was planning on sneaking them to her sweetie. Her plan might have worked, if only she didn't have to pee. There were -- get ready -- over 100 packets of heroin up her hoo-hoo.

Chris said...


Mary Jo said...

Lord, what a world.