What Does Hold Agency Mean in Jail?

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There are instances where prisoners, at the time of their release date, may be denied freedom and instead detained for a considerable amount of time.

This type of pretrial incarceration happens when a “hold agency” orders a prisoner’s detainment because of outstanding warrants and unresolved criminal cases.

What is a “hold agency,” and how does it affect a prisoner in jail? Is there more than one type of hold? How does one receive a hold order?

This article explains how the “hold agency” operates. It also discusses the types of hold and how prisoners get detained by this legal method.

Furthermore, this article explains how arrest warrants and immigration issues can cause holds and how bail and bonds work.

Visit LookUpInmate.org to access the contact details for over 7,000 correctional facilities nationwide. With our inmate locator, you can search for an inmate incarcerated in jails and detention centers in the United States.

What Is a Hold Agency?

A hold agency is any state or federal agency accountable for holding or detaining a prisoner. A correctional facility where a person has been imprisoned can become a hold agency if there is a legitimate reason for the continued custody of the inmate.

A prisoner on hold remains under the supervision of the institution where the prisoner was imprisoned after issuing a hold order. This order can be an arrest warrant, a misdemeanor charge, or any detainer that can prevent an inmate’s release from incarceration.

A detainer is a notice of a criminal charge or an unserved sentence pending against a prisoner. After the completion of the present sentence, the prisoner will be held until the turnover to the authorities for recommitment or prosecution.

The “hold agency” ensures that the inmate adheres to the court order and is present on all court appearance dates in the future. If the defendant isn’t detained, the agency responsible for the hold will face accountability issues.

What Is Release Hold per Agency?

“Release hold per agency” means a prisoner has a criminal charge or an arrest warrant in another jurisdiction or state. In this case, the inmate faces more than one criminal case, resulting in multiple warrants.

Police officers only need probable cause to secure an arrest warrant from the court. There is also no need to prove the suspect is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The police officer should only point out the probability that the defendant is highly likely to have committed a crime.

What Does a Hold Mean in Jail or Prison?

A hold agency happens when a prison or jail receives notice that a prisoner has an active warrant or has a pending case in another jurisdiction or state. This notice automatically places a “hold” on the prisoner, preventing them from gaining freedom from bail, parole, probation, or even if the sentence term was already completed.

What Is a Federal Hold?

A federal hold is issued when the federal government is interested in a particular incarcerated individual, especially when it plans to file charges against them. The order informs the facility that the federal government will take custody of the individual once appropriate.

Under federal law, when a suspect or person of interest is arrested and charged with a crime, they will be detained until a hearing can be held.

Like a hold from other states or county jurisdictions, a federal hold effectively denies a prisoner any means to gain release while the order is in effect.

However, the difference between a federal hold and that of other agencies is that one can’t post bail for the charges brought by the federal government. Any bail posted will go to the state case, not the federal one.

What Does Intake Hold Charge Mean?

An intake hold charge is a minor criminal offense charged against an inmate to delay and prevent the release. Prisoners get detained or held in prison, especially if the charges are severe and have multiple cases.

The purpose of the intake hold charge is to ensure that justice is served, especially for repeat offenders. The hold also assures the court that the defendant will not flee to another state.

Overall, the “hold order” prevents the release of an individual that may threaten public safety.

In some cases, local law enforcement is in the midst of an investigation, filing a case against a person of interest in prison to prevent release. The prosecution can use this delaying tactic to buy the necessary time to build a better case against the defendant.

What Does “No Active Holds” Mean?

When a prisoner has no other charges from other jurisdictions, there are “no active holds.” If this is the case, then the prisoner, once applicable, can be set free.

Let’s say your loved one got arrested and is booked in prison. If the arrestee has no prior record or outstanding warrants from other states, there’s “no active hold.”

You can post post bail for the arrestee if allowed by the court. However, the arrestee is automatically detained if there’s a hold notice for them after booking and background checks.

What Is a GPS Hold in Jail?

A GPS in the criminal law context means “general population segregation.” Inside correctional facilities, prisoners are regularly segregated according to different criteria.

GPS is disciplinary segregation where inmates with severe criminal charges are kept in restrictive housing, similar to solitary confinement.

Essential disciplinary segregation is the removal of a possibly dangerous inmate from the prison population for prison management. Segregation aims to ensure the safety of everyone inside the facility.

Suppose your loved one behind bars was subjected to disciplinary segregation. In that case, it’s best to have a criminal defense lawyer. You can have the lawyer visit your loved one even during disciplinary segregation.

What Is ICE and How Could It Affect Me?

ICE is short for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This agency handles investigations and enforcement of immigration laws in the country.

ICE carries out the following actions:

  • Enforcement and removal operations
  • Homeland security investigations
  • Management and administration

An ICE hold is an immigration and customs enforcement request to hold a prisoner for another 48 hours. They are booked when arrested due to an ICE violation, and their information, like fingerprints, is taken as part of processing. The information taken from the booking is sent to different law enforcement agencies nationwide.

What Does That Mean and What Should You Do?

When facing an ICE arrest, you face immigration issues against the United States. Once an ICE hold is in effect, you may still get detained an extra 48 hours, even after a bond is placed. The Department of Homeland Security is alerted and will take you into custody.

However, if the DHS doesn’t take you into custody after 48 hours, the holding agency, like a county jail working with the ICE, must release you. Remember that the 48-hour timeline doesn’t start until you’re released from jail after serving your sentence in full or if you’ve posted bail.

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

In the United States, a prisoner with a hold order due to an arrest warrant can get detained for 30 days after a supposed release date. However, it’s crucial that the holding agency and the state that issued the warrant cooperate to deliver the inmate to the proper jurisdiction to face the charges.

The act of transferring an inmate from one state to another is called extradition. The extradition process between states is similar to that of other countries. Extradition works when one state formally requests the custody of a person of interest from another state.

Each state has specific jurisdictions, its “area of responsibility.”  Policies, rules, and regulations affect people under its jurisdiction. So, full cooperation between jurisdictions is necessary for law enforcement to arrest criminals.

Should You Post Bail?

Bail is an agreement between the defendant and the court. The defendant posts a specific bail or bond amount in exchange for a temporary pretrial release. However, the condition is that the defendant will be present on the scheduled court date.

Upon appearance in court during the scheduled date, and according to the conditions in the bail bond agreement, the defendant can get the money back, even if they’re convicted.

Whether to pay bail is up to the defendant’s lawyer. The defendant should consult a criminal defense attorney for legal advice.

Suppose you’re on hold, facing more than one charge. In this case, you won’t be able to post bail. Instead, your lawyer can talk to the state court that issued the warrant and arrange a deal.

An example of a deal would be for you to plead guilty to the crimes charged by another jurisdiction in exchange for a lower sentence.

Here is an example of how hold works in jail or prison:

You’re arrested for a DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated) and can post bail. Once you post the said amount,  you’re free from the detention facility until the specific court date.

Once you appear on the specific date for the judge’s adjudication, you get your money back. However, if you fail to appear in court on the said date, your money is forfeited, and you’ll get a warrant. Once you’re caught, you’ll get arrested.

Even if you cross state borders to avoid the arrest warrant, the order for your arrest still stands because it has no expiry or time limit. Notices will be posted to alert other states of your arrest warrant.

Suppose you’re arrested in a neighboring state and get booked. The police will check the database as they get your personal information. When they see the outstanding warrant placed against you, you’ll be put on hold automatically, making it impossible to post bail.

The jail you’re in will alert the state that issued the warrant or detainer. Then, the two law enforcement agencies will cooperate to ensure you’ll face all your criminal charges. At this point, a criminal defense lawyer can help you face these multiple cases.

Attorney’s Perspective on the 72-Hour Rule

One of the core principles of the U.S. Constitution is the Sixth Amendment, which is the right to a speedy trial. Still, in some cases, an arrested person can get detained for up to 72 hours due to holds and detainers.

The term “speedy trial” doesn’t include a specific time frame on which to base. So, in most states, the 72-hour rule has been accepted as the limit for a correctional facility to detain a person without an arraignment.

However, sometimes public prosecutors, like district attorneys, may not file the charge immediately after an arrest. If this is the case, after the 72-hour rule, you’re set free, and you won’t get a criminal record, but you still get an arrest record.

If you or a loved one is in a dilemma, such as a prison hold, it’s best to have a competent lawyer from a reputable law firm. A solid lawyer-client relationship can help resolve the issues as you or your loved one is more open with your legal team.

There are law firms online that provide criminal lawyers and personal injury lawyers for cases that involve incarceration. Some may even offer a free consultation.

If you need documents, you’ll need to build a case. You can visit LookUpInmate.org and access over 7,000 correctional facilities to gather legal documents you may need during the trial.


  1. Probable Cause and Probable Cause Hearings in Criminal Law Cases
  2. Hold Order [Prison Law] Law and Legal Definition
  3. Extradition Between States: Law and Process
  4. How Long Can You Be Held Without Charges?

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