What Does A Hold On An Inmate Mean?

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Prison or jail hold usually results from criminal charges unrelated to why your loved one is currently in prison or jail.

For various reasons, another jurisdiction may want the custodial or arresting agency to keep your close friend or family member on a prison or jail hold. 

An arresting agency involves the law enforcement officers who initiate the detention or notification of an individual with criminal charges. 

Usually, the custodial agency, including guards and prison detainers, would notify an inmate when a hold order entered the system. However, the notification only arrives on the inmate’s release date in some cases.

Criminal law refers to any individual confined or detained in prison or jail as an inmate. Law enforcement officers may detain individuals in a city or county jail if they perpetrate a criminal offense. 

Criminal cases may include felonies, misdemeanors, inchoate offenses, or strict liability offenses. The time limit and the type of punishment offenders may receive depend on the category of their criminal offenses. State laws are also deciding factors in criminal matters. 

Families and friends of incarcerated individuals may require further information regarding these different terms. Their family member may also be one of the people who are being held or detained.

Our website, lookupinmate.org can help you search for an inmate that is charged with these criminal cases. We collected crucial information from important websites to help you with your search. 

What Does A Hold Mean In Jail or Prison?

Hold orders serve as notices to a jail or prison not to release even if the inmate’s sentence is over. Holding an inmate happens when another court with competent jurisdiction issues a warrant that the inmate has another upcoming court date.

For instance, another county serves an arrest warrant to an inmate doing three months in jail for drug possession. That county may hold the inmate for a different matter, such as probation violation (also, probation hold) or failure to attend court appearances. 

Prisons and jails are forms of institutional correctional facilities. 

The federal and state legislation governs the organization and function of prisons and the rights of prison inmates. Moreover, prisons are facilities that confine felons serving terms of more than a year. 

On the other hand, local law enforcement administers jails to confine inmates serving shorter sentences (usually one year or less) and those awaiting trial. In most states, a county sheriff runs the jail.

In some cases, a person’s transfer from one jurisdiction to another may be in order. When this act occurs between two states, criminal law calls it extradition. 

Overall, a hold order on inmates refers to a notation on their files. This occurrence means that another jurisdiction has a pending charge against an inmate. 

Any competent jurisdiction with criminal charges or arrest warrants pending against an inmate can place a hold. A jurisdiction could be a county, state, or even the federal government.

Various agencies, including the Drug Task Force, the county sheriff, the city police, immigration authorities, or federal agents, can initiate a hold on an inmate.

Sometimes inmates or individuals under probation have a “hold off” status in their disposition. The exact definition of  “hold off” is not a standard legal term.

Some legal experts say that “hold off” means removing all holds. At the same time, others think it pertains to pending final disposition.

To avoid complications in the future, you may ask your probation officer or consult a law firm for clarification.

What Does Intake Hold Charge Mean?

When law enforcement officers arrest someone, they take the accused into their custody.

Usually, police officers must meet the Fourth Amendment’s standard of probable cause before they can have the right to arrest, perform a search, or acquire a warrant. 

If an arrest occurs, a judge will hold a hearing, usually at or in the jail, to assess if the arresting agency’s probable cause judgment was valid. This session must occur within 48 hours of the arrest (weekends and holidays do not usually fall within this time limit at the court’s discretion).

Courts commonly find a probable cause when there is a reasonable basis for the claiming that the accused committed a criminal offense or when evidence of the crime is available in the search location.

After an independent judge determines the legitimacy of a probable cause, the local prosecuting attorney’s office should settle whether they want to file a criminal charge.

A legitimate probable cause is a sufficient basis for detaining an accused. However, the confinement cannot exceed 72 hours. 

Suppose the prosecuting attorney fails to file what criminal defense attorneys call “rush” charges. In that case, the custodial agency must release the detainee.

The accused only receives a criminal charge for a minor offense in some cases. However, this act may only be because the prosecutor wants to prolong the detention period. 

An intake hold charge is an accusation of a minor criminal offense against individuals to extend their confinement time. This move may be because the prosecuting party is investigating and preparing for graver charges.

What Does “No Active Holds” Mean?

Arrested individuals can “post bail” if they want an early release from jail. In most cases, posting bail is only possible if there are no active holds on the accused. 

“No active holds” means that the defendant has no other pending legal issues. Some of the reasons for having active holds are immigration issues, parole violation, or probation hold. 

When an inmate with active holds arrives in the new jurisdiction, the court could set a bond, and regular procedure for posting bail applies. 

There are also instances when the new jurisdiction can release a transferee inmate based on service time in the previous county. 

The requesting county can also fail to pick up the inmate on hold within the required timeline. In this case, the custodial agency must release the inmate.

Bail is the cash or cash equivalent that defendants give to a court to ensure their attendance on a given court date. A  defendant can get his bail money back once the trial is over. 

However, whether to grant bail falls upon the magistrate judge. During the arraignment or initial hearing, the judge examines the possible risk of allowing the defendant’s temporary release. 

A judicial officer can only order the defendant’s pre-trial release on the following grounds:

  1. Personal recognizance: A release without the mandate of posting bail, based on the defendant’s written promise to attend court appearances.
  1. Unsecured appearance bond: Usually, the judge can release a defendant by setting a bond amount. An “unsecured appearance bond” implies that the defendant does not need to post any cash at that moment. 

Suppose the defendant fails to attend the court date or violates any of the terms of the bond agreement. In that case, the court can demand the defendant pay the total amount of the bond.

In some cases, an inmate’s bond is on hold because a judge has yet to set a bond or because the judge has denied the defendant’s chance to post bail.

The bail magistrate often proceeds with a no-bail condition in severe criminal cases. 

If your inmate in jail has a bond in one county and a hold in another, be cautious about posting bail. 

In some cases, the new county jail may accept your bond payment only to inform you that your inmate would remain in custody due to the hold. 

Before paying, you may consult with a criminal defense attorney.

What Is A Hold Agency?

The term “hold agency” may mean that an inmate has an open case in another agency (county, state, or federal authorities). 

Suppose an inmate could not clear the open case before serving their sentence. In that case, a “hold agency” will affect the inmate’s release date.

You may consult a law firm if you want to resolve the “hold agency” issue immediately.

What Is Release Hold Per Agency?

“Release hold per agency” means that the inmate has a pending criminal charge in another jurisdiction. 

In the case of “release hold per agency,” the requesting court can issue a warrant so other agencies may detain the inmate and transfer him to the holding court.

How Long Can Someone Be Held in Jail for a Warrant From Another State?

Each jail or prison has specific policies for keeping inmates in their custody before the other jurisdiction must come and get them. The time count begins on the day of an inmate’s initial release date.

Suppose a correctional facility has a 7-day hold rule. In that case, the requesting jurisdiction has one week from the inmate’s initial release date to pick up and transport them to face the new court.

A court order can prolong the timeframe above. However, the inmate is free if delegates from the other jurisdiction do not arrive within the set timeline.

Once an inmate has served their sentence, the jail or prison where they are confined is required to release them. However, release after service is not always the case.

Overdetention occurs when a jail or prison continues to keep an inmate entitled to a release. However, there are legitimate circumstances in which an inmate may exceed an initial sentence duration. 

Many individuals have misconceptions about the United States’ jails and prisons. 

Some individuals believe that inmates spend their days watching television and exercising. Others may even argue that imprisonment in the United States is hardly a punishment.

However, the unreasonable detention of inmates who have earned their freedom remains an issue that undermines the United States’ supposed goal of liberty and justice for all.

A legitimate reason for keeping an inmate in custody is a prison or jail hold. If you or your loved one is on hold in jail, consulting with a criminal defense attorney can benefit your case.


1.  Rule: 23.12.102
2. Prisons and Jail Standards
3. https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/
4. The Differences Between Federal, State, and Local Laws
5. Prisoners’ rights
6. “Hold” On: The Remarkably Resilient, Constitutionally Dubious 48-Hour Hold
7. How Courts Work
8. Initial Hearing / Arraignment
9. Conditions of bail
10. A Presumptive Constitutional Time Limit for Administrative Overdetention of Inmates Entitled to Release

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