5 essential things to know about bond reduction hearings in Missouri

bond reduction hearing

If you’ve been charged with a crime in Misssouri, the court may order you detained pending trial and require you to post a bond. The bond serves as colllateral to ensure that you return to court and that you comply with the bond coditions set by the court.  It is not uncommon for the court to set the bond at an amount greater than you can afford. Accordingly, its important to have a skilled criminal defense attorney who can advocate for a lower bond at a bond reduction hearing. At the Law Offices of Brian J. Cooke, we have succesfully argued hundreds of bond reduction hearings in St. Louis County, St. Louis City, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, and throughout the State of Missouri.

How do courts set bond at bond reduction hearings in Missouri?

In Missouri, Judges have broad discretion to set a bond amount, so long has the Court does not impose a constitutionally excessive amount. Judges set bail to ensure defendants appear at future court dates. Bonds will vary greatly from County to County throughout the state of Missouri. For instance, St. Louis City Courts initially sets all bonds for felony case at “no bond allowed”, but generally releases most defendants on a personal recognizance. By contrast, Jefferson County judges will generally set relatively low bonds, but require the defendant to post the bond using a bail bondsman. However, all Missouri courts will consider the following factors at a bond reduction hearing:

  1. The nature and facts of the alleged crime
  2. The defendant’s prior criminal history
  3. The defendant’s financial resources
  4. The defendant’s employment
  5. The defendant’s ties to the community
  6. The defendant’s past history of appearing in court
  7. Safety of the community
  8. Safety to the victim
  9. Whether the defendant was in probation or parole at the time of the offense

How long does it take to get a bond reduction hearing in Missouri?

In Missouri, there are two mandatory bond reduction hearings: the initial appearance and the 7 day bond hearing.

Generally, a defendant will have an initial appearance within 48 hours of being arrested on the courts warrant. Under Missouri Criminal Rule 22.07, the court is required to advise the defendant of nature of the allegation against him, the conditons of bond, and determine whether or not the defendant can meet the conditions of bond. If the court finds that the defendant cannot meet the conditions of bond, the Court may modify the conditions, subject to the right of a victim to be informed of and heard at a bail hearing, Practically speaking, in most cases involving a victim the court will not reduce the bond at the intial appearance but instead will set a bond reduction hearing 7 days out so that the prosecutor can have an oppurtunity to notify the victim.

If the defendant has not made bond after the intial appearance, he or she is entitled to another bond reduction hearing within 7 days, pursuant to Missouri Criminal Rule 33.05. At this hearing, the prosecutor and defense attorney will present arguments to the court and, if the case involves a victim, the victim will have an oppurtunity to express any concerns to the court as well. The Court will then decide whether or not to reduce the bond and to set conditions on the bond. After the 7 day bond reduction hearing, additional motion for bond reduction hearing can be made; however the judge will usually want to hear new and additional facts at the subsquent bond reduction hearing.

What are the different types of bonds in Missouri?

Recongizance bonds: A personal recognizance means you are released upon a written promise to appear in court. A sponsored recognizance means you are released after a third party signs a document promising that he or she will ensure your appearance in court.

Cash bonds: If a bond is set at “cash only” this means that you must post the full bond amount in cash. When the case is over, the court will return the bond to you.

10 percent authorized: If the judge authorizes 10 percent on the bond, you only have to post 10 percent to be released. However, if you fail to appear in court, you will be liable for the full amount of the bond.

Surety authorized: A surety bond means that you can use a bail bondsman to post the bond. Generally, the bail bonds man will keep 10 percent of the bond as a fee. For example, if the bond is $50,000 the bail bondsman will charge you $5,000 and may allow you to pay the fee over time. Unlike cash bonds, you will not get the money back when the case is over.

Property bonds: Involve the posting of real estate located in the State of Missouri in order to secure the release of the arrested party. An arrested party may not use his or her own property. A person can post a property bond provided that they are 21 years old, a reputable person, a Missouri resident, and provided that they meet the other requirements as stated on the General Qualification Form that each person posting property bond must sign. In order to post a property bond, you need to bring the following documents:

  • A document from your mortgage holder showing the outstanding loan balance. If the property is free and clear, bring the Deed of Release, the Deed of Trust marked “Paid” or the Certificate of Title. A General Warranty Deed is not acceptable.
  • Your paid real estate tax receipt for the previous year. During 2005 for example, you would need to bring the 2004 receipt.
  • All owners named on the tax receipt must be present to sign the bond. If one of the owners is deceased, you must bring a copy of the death certificate.

What are the common bond conditions in Missouri?

Under Missouri Criminal Rule 33.01 the Court may set any of the following conditions at a bond reduction hearing:

(1) Place the defendant in the custody of a designated person or organization agreeing to supervise the defendant;
(2) Place restrictions on the travel, association, or place of abode of the defendant during the period of release, including the holding by the court of the defendant’s passport;
(3) Require the defendant to report regularly to some officer of the court or peace officer, in such manner as the court directs;
(4) Require the use of electronic monitoring of defendant’s location, the testing of defendant for drug or alcohol use, or the installation and use of ignition interlock devices. The court may order the eligible defendant to pay all or a portion of the costs of such conditions, but the court shall consider how best to minimize the costs to the defendant and waive the costs for an eligible defendant who is indigent and who has demonstrated to the court an inability to pay all or a portion of the costs;
(5) Require the defendant to seek employment, to maintain employment, or to maintain or commence an educational program;
(6) Require the defendant to comply with a specified curfew;
(7) Require the defendant to refrain from possessing a firearm or other deadly weapon;
(8) Require the defendant to abstain from possession or use of alcohol or any controlled substance without a physician’s prescription;
(9) Require the defendant to undergo available medical, psychological or psychiatric treatment, including treatment for drug or alcohol dependency and remain in a specified institution if required for that purpose;
(10) Require the defendant to return to custody for specified hours following release for employment, school, treatment, or other limited purpose;
(11) Require the defendant to be placed on home supervision with or without the use of an electronic monitoring device. The court may order the eligible defendant to pay all or a portion of the costs of the electronic monitoring, but the court shall consider how best to minimize the costs of such condition to the defendant and waive the costs an eligible defendant who is indigent and who has demonstrated to the court an inability to pay all or a portion of the costs;
(12) Require the defendant to execute a monetary bond in a stated amount wherein the defendant promises to pay to the court the stated amount should the defendant fail to appear or abide by the conditions of release;
(13) Require the execution of a monetary bond in a stated amount with sufficient sureties, or the deposit in the registry of the court of a sum in cash or negotiable bonds of the United States or the State of Missouri or any political subdivision;
(14) Require the execution of a monetary bond in a stated amount and the deposit in the registry of the court of 10 percent, or such lesser sum as the court directs, of such sum in cash or negotiable bonds of the United States or the State of Missouri or any political subdivision;
(15) Require the deposit of a property bond of sufficient value as approved and directed by the court;
(16) Impose other conditions necessary to secure the appearance of the defendant at trial, or at any other stage of the criminal proceedings, or the safety of the community or other person, including but not limited to the crime victims and witnesses.

How a St. Louis criminal defense attorney can help

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime and needs assistance with a bond reduction hearing, please do not hesitate to contact St. Louis criminal defense attorney Brian Cooke today. We have extensive experience advocating for defendants at Missouri bond reduction hearings. We will make sure your side of the story is heard and that you are treated fairly at the bond reduction hearing. We offer a free consultation where we can review the facts of your case and discuss your options.