Arrests and Booking at the Multnomah County Detention Center

We often get questions about how the arrest and booking process works. Here is a primer about how booking is generally working these days if someone is arrested and taken to the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) and what you can do to get your friend out. The GDC continuously monitors the MCDC website throughout the day and bails people if needed. 

  1. Once someone is arrested, they are usually taken to the MCDC for processing and booking.
  2. Sometimes people are arrested on the street, given a citation, and then released without being processed and booked. If this happens to you, you still have an arraignment (formal charging hearing) to attend, just as if you were booked at MCDC.
  3. Once someone gets to MCDC: they will be fingerprinted, have their ID run, and have an interview with the recognizance committee. This process can take between 6 to 8 hours and sometimes even longer depending on how many people are arrested.
  4. During the ID process, if someone has previous charges in Multnomah County or another county that are pending or if they are on parole either in Multnomah or another county, they will be placed on a county hold until the parole violation is dealt with or they can be transferred to the other county to deal with the parole violation or outstanding issue.
  5. Also during the ID process, someone can have other charges added to them if they are being investigated for another charge. This can change their eligibility to be released on their own recognizance or the amount of their bail.
  6. Because of these two issues, it is important to wait until a persond is through the ID process before attempting to bail them as they may end up not being eligible for bail or have their bail increased beyond what is listed on the website.
  7. Once someone is through the ID process, they will be interviewed by MCDC personnel who will use an evaluation tool to determine if they can be released before their arraignment. This type of release is called ‘released on own recognizance ‘(ROR). Someone is released this way if the court believes they will appear at their upcoming arraignment hearing on their own. 
  8. If it is determined that someone can be ROR’d, it will take several hours for the release process to finish and for them to be released. The website may list a person as ‘released’ several hours before they’re actually released.
  9. If it is determined that someone cannot be ROR’d and if they don’t have any holds, they can be bailed out. You should call the jail back and confirm their bail again at this point. You can either bail them yourself and be reimbursed by the GDC or you can wait for the GDC or Defense Fund PDX to bail them. Once bail is posted, it is important to call the jail back and let them know that bail has been posted on Touchpay (the payment website used by Multnomah County. (You can also go to Inverness Jail to post bail in person using cash or card.)
  10. At some point in the booking process, the name, charges and bail info of your comrade will show up on the Multnomah County Sheriff Office website:
  11. This website is the public face of the Multnomah County Detention Center. It is  updated as a person’s status changes throughout the legal process. It doesn’t cost any money to use the site. It sorts information in various ways. The easiest way to find out if someone has been arrested is to search using their legal name. If you know when they were arrested, search ‘Booked Today’ and their name should be among the list. Again, this name will be their legal name.
  12. Once your comrade’s name shows up on the website, you can start calling MCDC at 503-988-3689. Make sure to follow the menu prompts so you get to the records desk (1-3-1-1). They can tell you where your comrade is in the process, confirm what their bail amount is and if they are eligible for bail. 
  13. We suggest you wait until your friend has either seen the recognizance committee and been denied or refuses to go through with the interview before you post bail. In most cases right now, we are seeing people being released on recognizance without having to pay bail. Paying bail only gives more financial resources to the state and if we can avoid having to give extra money to the state, we should. 
  14. If you or your comrade is kept in custody on a hold, you will go to your arraignment while in custody. Depending on what the hold is, you may have to wait to see a judge about parole issues before possibly being released or bailed. A transfer to another county might happen if the hold is from someplace other than Multnomah County. 
  15. If you are cited and released or booked and ROR’d later or booked and then bailed out, you will be given paperwork with an arraignment date on it. Most arraignment dates right now are one to two months out. At your arraignment you will be formally charged with a set of charges and you will be assigned a public defender.  There will be a lawyer present at the arraignment to represent you. You will only be allowed to plead not guilty at your arraignment. In most cases, you will not need a lawyer until after your arraignment and you find out what the district attorney’s office is formally charging you with.
  16. Under the District Attorney’s new policy, most people with misdemeanor charges are having their charges filed as no complaint. This means that the DA will not be pursuing charges against you at the time. The DA’s office has up to two years to file these charges before they are formally dismissed.