Anyone in Texas or elsewhere who has ever been in a jail cell understands that a person's main concern in such a situation is usually what he or she can do or say to get out. Any number of issues can land you behind bars, but arriving there doesn't necessarily mean you are going to have to stay there. Between the moment of your arrest and the closing of your case, a lot goes on. Two terms you'll want to understand if a police officer arrests you are bail proceedings and booking.
The latter has to do with authorities processing you into the criminal justice system. The former has to do with you getting out of jail. There are certain situations that would prompt a judge to deny bail, so you'll also want to be aware of such issues to avoid negative surprises if yours is a serious situation and things seem to be heading in that direction. It's also a good idea to know how to access support because there are people who can try to help mitigate your circumstances.
What happens when you're booked?
If a police officer tells you he or she is placing you under arrest, it might be one of the most stressful experiences of your life. Whether you are at the scene of a traffic stop or officers have just conducted a search of your home, what happens from that point on may greatly affect your future. The following list includes information regarding the booking process:
- The booking officer will record your personal identification information, such as your name and when you were born. If you have any identifying body marks, such as a birthmark, the officer may note this as well.
- You've likely heard of a mug shot. This refers to the photograph officials will take of you when they process you into police custody.
- You will also have to submit to fingerprinting.
- If the arresting officer hasn't already done so, officials will check your criminal record to see if you have a history of arrests or convictions.
- Just before police place you in a jail cell, they will take away all your personal belongings, such as a wallet or pocketbook, keys, cell phone or jewelry.
Once you are fully "booked," an officer will lock you in a cell. If things go your way, you may be able to secure your release without bail. This is known as personal recognizance. If you're in jail on a minor issue, and police have no reason to think you will try to evade court proceedings, they may decide to simply let you walk out the door (after signing an agreement) with plans to show up for court at the appointed time.
In some circumstances, the court may require a financial guarantee that you will appear in court. This is known as bail. The amount of bail varies and the court sets it at its discretion. If you can't afford the amount set, you can ask a bail bondsman to front you the money. There are fees involved in bonding assistance. A bail bondsman basically promises to pay the court if you don't show up when you're supposed to.
Facing criminal charges in Texas or anywhere in no way constitutes guilt. From the time you enter a jail cell to the time a judge makes a final decision in your case, there may be several options available to help you avoid conviction. Seeking guidance from someone who can help protect your rights is always a good idea.