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What is the Booking Process in Texas When You are Arrested?


Were you or your close loved one arrested for a crime in Texas? It is normal to feel extremely worried, even overwhelmed. Knowing the nuts and bolts of what is going to happen next can bring some relief. Here, our San Antonio criminal defense attorneys provide a general overview of the booking process in Texas.

What is Booking?

Broadly defined by the Legal Information Institute, booking is “the process where information about a criminal suspect is entered into the system of a police station or jail after that person’s arrest.” Law enforcement record the arrest and document key details—most often taking photographs and obtaining fingerprints. Booking starts the formal criminal justice process.

Most People Arrested Start Out in a Local Jail

Where is a person booked? It depends on where he or she is arrested. That being said, most people who are arrested will be booked in a local facility, such as the City of San Antonio Detention Center or the Bexar County Adult Detention Center. Local jails serve multiple purposes: they detain persons awaiting trial who cannot afford bail, hold misdemeanor offenders serving short sentences, and process newly arrested individuals through booking.

An Initial Appearance Will Typically Occur within 48 Hours

After a person is booked in Texas, they may or may not be released without a court appearance. With minor charges, it is not uncommon for release to happen without an initial appearance. However, with more serious charges, there will be an initial appearance. In Texas, the initial appearance typically happens between 24 hours and 48 hours after an arrest. During the initial appearance, the following three things are likely to happen:

  • Read the Charges: charges against the defendant are formally read in court. This is a crucial step as it informs the defendant of the specific allegations they face. To be clear prosecutors can—and sometimes do—add additional charges after investigation.
  • Set Bond Terms: The court usually addresses the matter of bail during the initial appearance. Setting bond terms determines whether the defendant can be released from custody while awaiting trial. The judge considers various factors, including the severity of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, ties to the community, and the perceived risk of flight. In some cases, a defendant may be released on their own recognizance. In other cases, they may be required to post bail.
  • Schedule a Court Date: Finally, the next court date will be scheduled. It is this that establishes the timeline for the criminal justice process. It could be an arraignment or a preliminary hearing. Before any other court date happens, a defendant should be represented by an experienced San Antonio, TX, criminal defense attorney.

Call Our San Antonio Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

At Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, PLLC, our San Antonio criminal defense lawyers fight hard to protect the rights and interests of defendants. Do not take on prosecutors alone. If you have any specific questions or concerns about the booking process in Texas, we can help. Give us a call now or contact us online to set up your completely confidential initial appointment. With an office in San Antonio, we defend criminal charges in Bexar County and throughout South Central Texas.