Steps of the Criminal Process Part 2: Booking, Initial Appearance, and Preliminary Hearing

Part two in our series on criminal procedure in San Bernardino County will detail the processes of booking, the initial appearance before a judge, and preliminary hearing.

After the arrest, an individual is booked in jail. The booking process is relatively short and designed to get basic information about the arrestee. The process of booking is also what initiates an official record of that person’s arrest. During the booking process, the arrestee will:

  • Be fingerprinted
  • Asked to take a mug shot
  • Give their name and basic information
  • Have the nature of their arrest recorded
  • Be searched

During the process of booking, police will be able to determine if the individual has any warrants out for their arrest as well as their criminal history if any. The initial appearance will take place after the booking, usually no longer than 48 hours later but this depends on the court’s case volume.

The first or preliminary hearing, also commonly referred to as the arraignment, is when the accused has their charges formally read before a judge. During the arraignment, the accused is asked how they plead – guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If the accused pleads guilty, their case will proceed to sentencing. If they plead not guilty, the case will move into the pre-trial phase.

The next phase of the criminal process involves bail and pre-trial hearings. If the accused is able to post bail, they can await their hearing at home rather than in jail. Our next blog will cover how to post bail as well as pretrial hearings.

If you or someone you love was arrested and you need legal advice and counsel, we invite you to contact the San Bernardino criminal defense attorneys at Chung & Ignacio, LLP today for a free review of your case!