Under Missouri Supreme Court Rule 33.05, the Court MUST review your detention or conditions of release as soon as possible but no later than seven days after your initial arraignment. These seven days do not include weekends or holidays and are subject to the right of the victim to have notice and an opportunity to be heard at the hearing.
What is Decided at this Bond Hearing?
At the bond hearing, the judge will decide whether you must be detained or released while your case makes it's way towards trial. If granted release, the Judge must implement the “least restrictive” conditions possible to assure the safety of the community and your appearance back at court. More on this below. The Judge must first consider non-monetary conditions for your release. However, if he or she determines that non-monetary conditions are insufficient, they will order that a monetary bond must also be posted. When setting the amount to be posted, the Judge must consider your financial resources when setting a reasonable bond.
The Judge can also decide that no amount of money or conditions can assure the public safety and your appearance in court and order you detained while your case is pending in court. These situations arise more frequently in cases involving violent crimes, vulnerable victims, or defendants with a long criminal record. Hopefully, none of these apply you.
What is this decision based on?
Under Missouri Supreme Court Rule 33.01, the Judge will use the following factors when considering detention, release, and bond conditions:
- The nature and circumstances of the offense charged;
- The weight of the evidence against you;
- Your family ties, employment, financial resources, including ability to pay, character, and mental condition;
- The length of your residence in the community;
- Your record of convictions;
- Your record of appearance at court proceedings or flight to avoid prosecution or failure to appear at court proceedings; and
- Whether you were on probation, parole or release pending trial or appeal at the time the offense for which the court is considering detention or release was committed.
While this list is a good place to start, other practical considerations may include whether you have a stable home plan, the wishes of any alleged victims of the crime, any severe medical issues you're experiencing and whether you are gainfully employed.
What type of conditions can the Court order?
A full, general list of conditions can be found in Rule 33.01 (c), here. The most common type of non-monetary conditions odered by the Court are house arrest, GPS monitoring, full time employment or school, no contact with any victims, drug testing, and prohibiting the use and possession of drugs, alcohol and the like. Again, the goal of these conditions are to make sure you come back to court and the community is safe with you in it.
What if the Court doesn't grant bond?
If after your bond review hearing the Judge orders that you be detained until trial or sets a monetary bond that you can't afford to pay, you have a few options. First, make a record during your hearing of your financial status so that the Court is on notice that you cannot afford the high bond as set. If you are on record as making minimum wage but the Court sets the bond at 1 million dollars, that bond is no longer reasonable and should be reduced. Second, there is no limit on the number of bond hearings you can request. You have the right to file another motion for bond reduction and have the Judge reconsider her original decision. If your case ends up in front of a different judge, you could also try to get that judge to reduce the bond even though the first judge would not. Finally, if all else fails and you cannot get the Court order a reasonable bond, you can file a request for speedy trial under Rule 33.01. This request would require that would require the court to schedule your trial and have your case heard within 120 days of being denied bond. While it doesn't get you released, it at least puts a limit on the length of time you can sit in county jail waiting for the conclusion of your case.
Do I need an Attorney for a Bond Hearing?
It is best for you to have a criminal defense attorney help you with you bond hearing. Your attorney can contact the prosecuting attorney ahead of time to try to convince them to agree to a bond you can make before the hearing date even occurs. If the State will not agree to a reasonable bond, your attorney can help you put your best foot forward to the Judge in order to get the Court to grant or reduce bond at your hearing. We represent people seeking bond reductions in court every day - contact us if you or a loved one is sitting in the county jail and in need of a bond reduction.