The local sheriff has said the defendants would be treated like everyone else should they surrender at the jail; the process for Donald J. Trump could be different.
To locals, the jail is known simply as “Rice Street.”
And over the next nine days, the sprawling Atlanta detention center is where defendants in the racketeering case against Donald J. Trump and his allies will be booked. The local sheriff, who oversees the jail, says that even high-profile defendants like Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, and Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff, would be treated like everyone else should they surrender there.
That means they would undergo a medical screening, be fingerprinted and have mug shots taken, and could spend time in a holding cell at the jail, weeks after the Justice Department announced an investigation for what it called “serious allegations of unsafe, unsanitary living conditions” there.
On Wednesday, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office prohibited news media from gathering near the jail as it prepared for the defendants to be processed. Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, has said that she wants all 19 people charged in the case to be booked by noon on Aug. 25. Her office has led a two-and-a-half-year investigation into election interference by Mr. Trump and his allies that culminated this week with a 98-page racketeering indictment.
The Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Tuesday that “at this point, based on guidance received from the district attorney’s office and presiding judge, it is expected that all 19 defendants” would be booked at the Fulton County Jail, as the Rice Street jail is officially called. But whether Mr. Trump himself is processed there will very likely depend on the Secret Service.
After surrendering this year in Manhattan, where he has been indicted in an unrelated case, Mr. Trump was allowed to forgo certain procedural steps, including being handcuffed and having his booking photo taken.
The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office has not described in detail how the booking process will unfold for Mr. Trump’s co-defendants, leaving it unclear if they will truly follow standard operating procedure in one of the highest-profile prosecutions in the state’s history.
After the bookings, the defendants will be arraigned in court, where they will hear the charges against them and enter their pleas. On Wednesday, Ms. Willis’s office filed a motion seeking to schedule arraignments for the week of Sept. 5, but the judge assigned to the case, Scott McAfee, will ultimately decide.
She is also seeking to start the trial on March 4 of next year, the day before the Super Tuesday primaries. The Sheriff’s Office has said that some arraignments and appearances in the Trump case “may be virtual as dictated by the presiding judge.”
The Rice Street jail is not a place for the faint of heart, said Robert G. Rubin, a veteran defense lawyer who has had many clients booked there. In recent weeks, two inmates have been found dead at the jail. Last year, a detainee was found dead in his cell, his body covered in bites from bed bugs and other insects, according to his lawyer.
At least two songs on Spotify are titled “901 Rice Street,” the jail’s address. The popular rapper Latto has a song whose title refers to Rice Street with an expletive. And a line from a Killer Mike rap goes, “Locked in like Rice Street without a bond.”
Typically, as soon as a defendant surrenders to the police, they go to a holding area with other detainees, Mr. Rubin said. “It’s miserable. It’s cold. It smells. It’s just generally unpleasant,” he said, relying on his clients’ past descriptions. “Plus, there’s a high degree of anxiety for any defendant that’s in that position.”
At some point after that comes the booking process, which includes checking to see if the detainee has outstanding warrants. Mr. Rubin says that the computer systems used for such checks sometimes fail, causing delays.
Gerald A. Griggs, another Atlanta-area trial lawyer, said the booking process could take “four hours or four days,” although a matter of hours at Rice Street is the most likely scenario for the defendants in the Trump case. That is because their lawyers will have probably negotiated their bond with prosecutors before turning themselves in, obviating the need for a bond hearing before a judge.
History suggests that the Trump defendants could receive some special treatment. Both Mr. Griggs and Mr. Rubin represented clients in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating case, which targeted a number of teachers and educators who were accused of changing students’ standardized test scores. Both lawyers said their educator clients were allowed to stay in detention areas segregated from the general jail population.
Mr. Griggs said he could foresee that happening with the Trump case defendants, on the grounds that the high-profile nature of their case may heighten the chance that they could be targets of violence.
The Rice Street jail is about four miles northwest of the downtown Atlanta courthouse where the indictment against Mr. Trump and his allies was handed up by a grand jury late Monday night. The high-rise building is set amid stands of trees and cannot be seen from the entrance to the front parking lot.
The immediate surroundings are weedy and industrial, with a few bail bond companies and bus stops within walking distance. Some of the nearby residential streets are dotted with forlorn and boarded-up homes.
The sheriff department’s decision to close off the parking lot in front of the main jail entrance came as a shock to veteran local reporters. For years, news crews and reporters have set up there to record the comings and goings of high-profile defendants.
On Wednesday morning, a photographer for The New York Times was waiting at a second jail entrance identified as an “intake center.” She was told by a sheriff’s deputy to leave her position on a public street, and when she protested she was soon surrounded by three other law enforcement officers on motorcycles.
Mr. Rubin says that he advises his clients to prepare for the experience by showing up at Rice Street in comfortable clothes with minimal personal belongings, which will likely be confiscated for the duration of their stay.