This is prompted by the Khobragade incident in New York (MPSIMS thread here), but also by a number of other cases reported from the US (mostly one high-profile person or another arrested for shoplifting, for patronizing a prostitute, for DUI etc.)
My impression is that it is SOP in the US not only to identify a suspect, check for outstanding warrants, and invite him/her to make a statement (in hope he/she is stupid enough to do so), but also to arrest the suspect and hold him/her at the station for at least a short period of time.
To Americans this seems to be the obvious procedure to follow, but it is markedly different from what I see here in Germany in the few cases of minor crime I witnessed (mainly shoplifting) and the many read of in the local papers’ police column.
For example when someone is caught shoplifting in the supermarket over the street from me the procedure usually is: police van arrives, suspect is escorted to the van (which has a small table, statement forms for the filling of), police and suspect converse for a few minutes there (presumably ID card is produced, police computer queried, suspect asked if he wants to make a statement), then suspect walks off and supermarket staff enter van to make their statements. A few minutes later police leave, and presumably the prosecutor has a new folder in his (physical) inbox a few days later.
If I were accused of a white-collar crime like Ms. Khobragade, I’d expect the police knocking on the door early in the moring with a search warrant, a search of my apartment and/or office for relevant evidence made in my presence depending on the nature of the case (with the police pricing their ears for me letting something slip), later to receive an invitation by the prosecutor’s office to make a statement (I have to go but can decline all questions except for identifying myself), still later to receive the indictment and a court summons. *
What I’d not expect, as someone with known identity, with known and fixed residence, would be to be arrested at the beginning of the case. If I were arrested for a nonviolent offence, I also would expect not to be handcuffed (the handcuffing of nonresisting arrestees part looks to me to be a major part of European-media horror stories of travelers’ experience with US law enforcement/customs - it looks like gratuitous humiliation) *
So, is arresting and booking really invariably a part of the prosecution process in the US, and, if this is the case: why?