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Posting Bail in Criminal Cases

For anyone charged with a felony in Missouri, they probably had to post bail to get out of jail.This article addresses the factors courts consider in setting bail and the various types of bail that are used in St. Louis County and St. Louis City.

Traditionally, the only legitimate legal purpose in setting bail was to ensure the Defendant's appearance at trial, and any amount in addition to that figure would have been considered excessive. However, with the passage of Article I, § 32 of the Missouri Constitution, as well as Senate Bills 763 and 554 in 1994, the legal theory behind setting bail has drastically changed, and the focus has shifted to witness and community protection.

In addition to witness and community protection, when setting bail courts will often consider the following information:

  • The nature and circumstances of the offense charged
  • The weight of the evidence against the accused
  • The accused's family ties, employment, financial resources, character and mental condition
  • The length of the accused's residence in the community
  • The accused's record of conviction
  • The accused's record of appearance at court proceedings or flight to avoid prosecution or failure to appear at court proceedings

These factors will also be weighed in determining whether the bail will be secured, or unsecured. Recognizance type bonds are unsecured and fall into three main types:

  • Personal recognizance, which is a release of an individual on his/her promise to appear
  • Sponsor recognizance, which is a release based on a sponsor's promise to supervise the person charged
  • Cash deposit recognizance which typically requires a 10% posting of the bond amount

A secured bond requires a prisoner to make a property bond, to post the full amount of the bond in cash, or to have a bail bond agent make the bond.

There are times when bail is set excessively high for the charge(s). This can result in a person spending months in jail awaiting trial without ever being convicted. If you or a loved one are in this situation, contact the criminal law attorneys at Millikan Wright, LLC for a free consultation. In some cases, it may be possible to reduce the amount of bail.

Categories: Criminal Defense

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