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Depending on the location of an arrest, a defendant may spend time in a county or city jail. Inmates are held at a city or county jail while being charged, but typically not yet sentenced. While these types of holding facilities may exist in the same city, there are a few key differences.

City Jails. Police departments operate city jails. If arrested within city limits, police officers will charge, fingerprint, and photograph defendants in local city jails until released on bail or are transported to the county jail.

County Jails. The Sheriff’s office in each county operates the county jail. When brought in outside of city limits, defendants are charged and held at the county level until released on bail or released by a judge. ¬†Sometimes lower security level inmates, or those serving less than one year, are housed in county jails as well.

Prisons. Operated at both the state and federal level, prisons house inmates after sentencing. Generally, there is no option to bond out, and residents have either been found or pled guilty.