Booking

In New York City, from the time of arrest, it typically takes approximately twenty-four hours for a defendant to appear before a judge for arraignment. During this time there are several different government agencies working simultaneously to process a new arrest and commence a prosecution. A case will not be ready for arraignment until all these procedures are completed.

During the booking process, fingerprints and photographs of the defendant are taken. The collected data is then sent to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services' computerized criminal record index where a rap sheet, or fingerprint report, is compiled which shows the accused person's prior criminal record, if one exists. Following booking, the defendant is held in a jail adjoining the courthouse and must wait until all the paperwork required for the arraignment is prepared.

During this time a staff member of the Criminal Justice Agency (CJA) interviews the defendant. The purpose of this interview is to make a recommendation to the judge in deciding whether to set bail, release the defendant on his own recognizance (ROR), or hold the defendant in jail without bail (remand). The interviewer collects information about the defendant's occupation, residence, and family status, and tries to verify this information with third parties, such as a relative or neighbor. Statements made by the defendant during the interviewing process may be used against him in court.

Also during this time, the prosecutor consults with the arresting officer and sometimes with the complainant or other witnesses. The prosecutor decides whether there is sufficient evidence to support the charges originally brought by the police, determines the final charges, and drafts the complaint upon which the defendant will be prosecuted. In some instances, after evaluating the evidence, the District Attorney's Office declines to prosecute a case and the defendant is released from jail.

Finally, the court arraignment clerks create a court file, assign the case a docket number and enter the information into the court's database.