Getting arrested or surrendering for a crime can be a scary experience. The unknown can be the biggest fear especially when it comes to the criminal justice system. Knowing what to expect when going through the arrest and booking process can help allay some fears and help you maintain your rights. 

Let’s review what to expect should you be arrested in Massachusetts as well as what the booking process will entail. 

police car

Arrest Process

While every state has its own criminal process and procedure such as the arrest and booking of an assailant, there are some similarities in the overall process including the rights of the person being arrested. 

Defendants who are arrested are typically brought to a neighboring police station. Unless the person is surrendering with their lawyer, the arrest usually takes the form of being handcuffed and placed in the back of the police car for the trip to the station. 

During the actual arrest, law enforcement will read the defendant a Miranda Warning which explains the rights of that person to remain silent, that anything they say during the arrest and booking process could be used against them in a court of law and that they have a right to legal counsel. Should they not have legal counsel or are not able to afford one, the government will provide one for them. 

The Booking Process 

The booking process creates an arrest record that will be used in your criminal case. Once law enforcement arrives at the police station with the defendant, this process begins. This involves several steps including:

  • Collecting biographical information such as name, date of birth, and current address.
  • Taking a mug shot which is a visual that is helpful to establish a suspect’s physical condition at the time of arrest.
  • Personal property and clothing are taken by law enforcement and are returned after release from jail. 
  • Fingerprints are digitally taken as part of the booking process. These are entered into the National Database which is maintained by the FBI. 
  • A body search is conducted by law enforcement to ensure that there are no contraband weapons or drugs on the person. 
  • Law enforcement checks for other warrants through a police database. 
  • A health screening may take place to determine the wellbeing of the defendant especially if there was an altercation or injury that occurred during the arrest or prior to it. 
  • Questioning may occur if the defendant’s lawyer is present and determines that it may do more good than harm to cooperate with the investigation. 


The booking process may take a few hours depending on the time of day and how many other people are being processed at the same time. Once the arrest and booking process is complete, a defendant will be brought before a magistrate or judge or an initial court appearance called an arraignment. 

For more information or if you have questions about this process, talk to our team at the Law Office of Patrick Conway.