What Does Active Hold Mean in Jail?

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In the United States, some people are kept in jail or prison because of an active hold. Prisoners can’t get out of prison, get paroled, or even post bail in some cases because of an active hold.

What is an active hold, and how does it affect an inmate’s chance for release? How can one prevent getting into this kind of situation?

This article explains the concept of prison or jail holds and how they happen. It also discusses the consequences of receiving an active hold, especially for inmates nearing release.

Furthermore, this write-up shows how legal experts can help resolve an incarcerated individual’s active hold issues.

If you need more information about the different prison and jail facilities in the United States, visit LookUpInmate.org. Our website provides a vast database of over 7,000 correctional facilities handled by state jurisdictions and the federal government.

What Does a Hold Mean in Jail or Prison?

A hold order is a notice to a correctional facility to delay an inmate’s release from incarceration even if they served their prison or jail sentence in full.

An active hold applies when an inmate has an existing warrant or detainer that prevents their release. Detainers are legal documents instructing the prison or jail to detain a person.

A hold order is issued because an inmate may have more than one warrant issued against them. These arrest warrants can come from other states or jurisdictions, which the inmates should also face.

An arrest warrant is an order issued by the judge authorizing law enforcement to arrest someone accused of a crime. Warrants are issued upon showing probable cause, meaning that there’s a reasonable belief that suggests the accused did the crime.

To ensure inmates face these outstanding warrants, the correctional facility delays their release upon receiving this notice and cooperates with the state or jurisdiction that’s asking to take inmates under their custody.

The holding facility has to alert the authorities of the jurisdiction that issued the warrant when a prisoner they’re interested in is ready for release.

What Does Intake Hold Charge Mean?

An intake hold charge is a way to detain an inmate scheduled for release to ensure that they face the adjudication of other criminal cases charged against them from other states. This detaining method is done by filing a minor criminal charge or misdemeanor against the inmate to “hold” them in jail.

One purpose of an intake hold charge is to delay an inmate’s release for law enforcement to complete its investigation of a more severe charge against the detainee.

When an intake hold charge is issued, the inmate won’t be able to get out of prison even if they’ve completed their sentence or posted bail. The hold charge ensures that the inmate attends court appearances for the subsequent criminal charges they’re facing.

What Is a Hold Agency?

A holding agency, typically federal, has accountability for a person kept under hold. It’s the responsibility of the holding agency to ensure that the inmate with a hold charge remains in jail during the entire length of the hold order.

Let’s say an inmate is released from imprisonment while a hold order is in effect. In that case, the holding agency will face accountability issues.

A holding agency or correctional facility is responsible for public safety, keeping possibly dangerous criminals behind bars with more than one warrant.

What Does Booking Type Enroute Mean?

When law enforcement arrests a person, they are taken into custody and brought to the county jail.

Once in jail, the suspect’s personal information, including mugshots and fingerprints, is taken. This pretrial process is called booking.

Sometimes, the prisoner must be moved or transferred to another jurisdiction because of certain factors, like facing another criminal charge.

In this case, an inmate can be placed on hold in a correctional facility en route to the prison or jail destination in another state or jurisdiction.

Taking an inmate into custody on the way to an out-of-county destination is called en route booking or booked courtesy in some counties.

What Does “No Active Holds” Mean?

“No active holds” means that no detainers or criminal charges from other states or jurisdictions exist to hold or prevent an inmate’s freedom upon release date from a federal or state prison.

Prison authorities check if the prisoner has any warrants, pending charges, or detainers before they can be sure the prisoner has no active holds.

The correctional facility must verify that the prisoner has no other pending charges like probation violations, domestic violence cases, or parole violations.

Suppose the prison or jail prisoner is verified to have no active holds. In that case, there’s no reason to delay their release once applicable.

What Is Release Hold per Agency?

A “release hold” per agency implies that the prisoner has an outstanding warrant or criminal charge in another state or jurisdiction.

On the other hand, a holding agency is any federal or state agency that has accountability over an inmate under hold.

So, a release hold per agency means that the prisoner is facing additional or pending legal issues in another jurisdiction, and could not be released.

What Does It Mean to Have an Active Warrant?

An active warrant is an active court order giving authority to law enforcement, like police officers, to detain and arrest a suspect accused of a crime.

Sometimes, the accused isn’t present in the state where the warrant was issued. In this case, the warrant becomes a basis for an active hold of the accused if caught in another jurisdiction.

Help With an Active Warrant Search

An active warrant is problematic and stressful, especially if the prisoner already has a release date.

An active warrant can delay a prisoner’s release. Moreover, the prisoner can be transferred to the state or county issuing the warrant to face the charges against them.

Let’s say your loved one has an active warrant. The defendant should have a criminal defense attorney to help them with their legal issue. You can help your loved one get access to their criminal records, which are public records.

You can visit LookUpInmate.org to access documents with information about the degree of offense, the prisoner’s admission date, the name of the court that handles the proceedings, and sentence status.

In-Custody Defendants With Multiple Warrants

Prisoners with multiple warrants have more than one warrant issued against them, usually from different states or jurisdictions. One cause of numerous arrest warrants is when the defendant crosses states after being charged with a crime and then commits another offense.

Active Holds on Defendants

As mentioned above, if a prisoner has more than one warrant or charges filed against them, they’re placed on active hold. It means the prisoner cannot be released even if they have served their sentence in full.

There are ways to get around this problem. However, it involves the help of a criminal law expert to deal with the other warrants filed by other jurisdictions.

Making a Deal With the Other Jurisdiction

A criminal lawyer can work out a deal with the state or jurisdiction that issued the warrants or charges an inmate faces. However, the deal’s success hinges on the defendant’s willingness to plead to the applicable charges.

For instance, Mr. John, currently facing a burglary charge in California, has another arrest warrant for petty theft in Nevada. The defense lawyer can make a deal with the prosecution in Nevada, where the defendant pleads guilty to the burglary charge in exchange for dismissing the petty theft charge.

The defense and prosecution work out the deal to achieve the best possible outcome for both parties.

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

When an inmate or a recently arrested person is detained and held due to a warrant from another state, the issuing state must pick up the inmate as soon as possible.

In states like Texas, the hold will last up to 180 days, ample time for the state that issued the warrant to pick up the inmate. The person is set free if the jurisdiction that issued the warrant doesn’t pick up the defendant after the allotted time frame. If the prisoner is set for release, then after the hold, the prisoner is released.

How Long Can a Jail Hold You on a Warrant From Another County?

In the case of another county, states and jurisdictions also differ. For instance, an inmate hold for another county may last up to 10 days in Texas.

The county that issued the warrant must pick up the defendant, or they will be set free by the holding agency by personal bond.

What Happens if an Inmate Has an Outstanding Warrant?

An outstanding warrant is a court order for the arrest of a defendant that’s not yet fulfilled.

Arrest warrants typically don’t have a time limit or expiration. This court order remains active until the subject of the warrant is caught or the court recalls the order.

If an offender crosses states to flee a warrant, the order remains active and becomes an outstanding warrant.

When an accused is booked, law officers check their background. Police can check the criminal database to reveal the arrestee’s criminal history, including outstanding warrants. The presence of an outstanding warrant can cause the following problems.

Delaying the Inmate’s Release

Once prison officials know an inmate has an outstanding warrant from another jurisdiction, their scheduled release can be delayed.

Still, an inmate can be released for the following reasons:

  • Bail bonds posted: Bail is an amount ordered by the judge for the defendant to pay for a temporary release from jail. A bail bond is an agreement not only with the court but with a bail bondsman who charges the defendant a fee in exchange for guaranteeing the payment of the bail amount.
  • Released by personal recognizance: This is a release method where the defendant is released with no bail involved. However, the defendant must promise to attend hearings on a specified court date.
  • Sentence completed: When the defendant completes serving the sentence in full, they’re released.

However, despite these prison release methods, an outstanding warrant will place a hold on an inmate and prevent them from getting out of prison.

Loss of Prison Privileges

Another problem resulting from an outstanding warrant and the subsequent hold is the loss of certain prison privileges.

For instance, prisoners with outstanding warrants may not access work release programs due to the hold order. Even benefits from good behavior and parole may not be available.

An inmate must clear these outstanding warrants first to regain access to these privileges through the help of lawyers from law firms specializing in criminal defense.

Fighting the Charges While in Prison

Another setback that can happen is when the prisoner tries to fight the charge set against them.

Suppose the inmates lose the case and get a criminal conviction. In that case, the charges can be served consecutively (one after another) or concurrently (all served simultaneously).

However, the ordeal isn’t over even if the inmate wins one of the cases. The prisoner is sent back to prison to face the next criminal charge.

How Are You Notified of a Warrant?

Let’s say you’re an inmate facing another warrant, or you have a family member facing the same issue. You are notified that you have an active warrant through different means depending on the policies in your state.

For example, in Texas, warrants are personally presented to the accused at their residence or left with a person who knows the accused.

Police officers initially knock at the door but can legally enter the offender’s residence forcibly if they receive no response. Also, the arresting officer doesn’t need to have a copy of the warrant with them during the arrest.

Once the offender is arrested, they’re brought to jail, booked, and sent to an arraignment, which is the first step of the criminal case. The judge reads the charges against the defendant, and their lawyer enters their plea. Conditions for bail are typically included in the arraignment.

How Prisoners Can Clear an Outstanding Warrant

An attorney can help a prisoner clear a warrant. However, the process involves a few steps.

  • The lawyer gathers all information about the warrant, its case number, and the reason for its issuance.
  • The lawyer sends a demand letter, which includes the reason why the defendant failed to appear when the warrant was issued, to the prosecuting attorney of the state or jurisdiction that issued the warrant.
  • The lawyer then requests a speedy trial where the state that issued the warrant sends for the offender. The lawyer can also request to defer the charge until the offender completes the current sentence or else demand the case dismissed entirely.

Is a Warrant a Public Record?

Legal documents, including warrants issued by the court, are public records. Warrants of all types, like search and bench warrants issued to offenders, are all public records.

How Do You Find Out if You Have Active Warrants?

Law enforcement typically goes to your home to inform you of a charge you must face in court. You can find out that you have a criminal charge by doing a background check on yourself or searching the criminal database for active warrants or criminal charges filed against you.

How Can You Check if You Have a Warrant Online?

States have a Division of Criminal Justice where you can inquire about active warrants. They have an online warrant search that people can use to check whether they or their loved ones have active warrants that they should face.

Consult an Attorney

When confronted with a legal issue such as a warrant filed against you or your loved one, it’s best to consult a legal expert to help you.

You must have lawyers who know state criminal laws. Developing attorney-client relationships is vital, especially as court battles may take months or years to reach a final decision.

You can also help your attorney build a defense against a criminal charge by gathering all necessary documents like criminal records. You can visit LookUpInmate.org and access criminal records filed in the country’s over 7,000 state department of corrections and Bureau of Prisons facilities.


  1. Hold Order [Prison Law] Law and Legal Definition
  2. Arrest warrant
  3. Police Booking Procedure
  4. What Is a Bail Bond?

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