At What Stage of the Pretrial Process Is the Accused Photographed?

We’ve all seen photographs of those accused of crimes, also known as mug shots, online and on TV. But at what stage of the pretrial process does the accused have their photograph taken?


It may come as a surprise to learn that this is one of the first things that happens after police make an arrest. The police typically take pretrial photographs during the booking process when they arrive at the station or jail with the accused.


But what else happens during the booking process? What can you expect to undergo if you’ve been accused of or arrested for a crime?


Collecting Identifying Information

One of the first things that happens in the booking process is that someone at the station or jail will collect your information. This information may include your full legal name, home address, and the crime the police allege you committed.


Photographing the Accused

After collecting your information, your photograph will be taken and added to a database. The point of these photographs is to make sure that the police arrested the right person. If the police arrest multiple people with the same name, they can use their pictures to tell them apart.


Another use for these photographs is to document the accused’s condition when they arrive at the jail. If you have bruises all over your face in the photograph, you may be able to use that as evidence of excessive force on behalf of the police. Or, if you don’t have injuries in your photograph but have them by the time your lawyer sees you, it may indicate that the police didn’t ensure your safety within the jail.


Fingerprinting the Accused

When the police take your photograph, they’ll also take your fingerprints. Fingerprinting suspects also helps differentiate them from each other, and police can compare them against fingerprints found at the crime scene.


Collecting Personal Items

The police will also collect any personal items you have with you, such as your wallet, keys, and phone. They may also take your clothes and provide you with something else to wear, especially if they believe your clothes are evidence.


Performing a Health Screening

You may have to undergo a health screening as part of the booking process. Health screenings make sure people aren’t bringing contagious diseases into the jail that could infect police and others held there. They’re also used to determine if the accused needs any medical treatment.


Collecting DNA Samples

The police may also request a DNA sample, such as a mouth swab, blood sample, or urine sample. Blood samples are particularly common if you’re accused of operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI).


Wisconsin Criminal Defense Attorneys

If the police accuse you of and arrest you for a crime in Wisconsin, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Contact Nicholson Goetz & Otis, S.C., for a consultation. Our attorneys will walk you through the next steps of the pretrial process and help you understand your legal options.