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New Rules on Setting Bond for Criminal Defendants

On July 1, 2019, the Missouri Supreme Court issued new rules on setting bond for criminal defendants. These changes require judges to set bond within 48 hours of the defendant’s initial appearance, excluding weekends and holidays. The purpose of these changes is to require judges to think of other factors when setting bond such as the defendant’s ability to pay, family status, and danger posed to the community. The new rules also call for judges to present clear and convincing evidence as to why they believe a defendant must be held for longer than 48 hours. And if a defendant is held for over 48 hours, there must be a bond-review hearing within seven days of the initial appearance, excluding weekends and holidays. This will also affect defendants arrested on probation violations. Prior to the change, defendants needed to have a hearing within 96 hours of re-arrest. Now, that window has been expanded to seven days, excluding holidays and weekends. There was some concern among Missouri judges regarding when the 48-hour clock began. However, the new changes state that the 48 hours begins once a defendant has been confined under a warrant within the issuing county. Further, if a defendant is transferred to a neighboring county, the 48 hours begins once the holding county has confined the defendant.

What does this mean for those already incarcerated? The court is now required to hold bond-review hearings within seven days for all defendants currently in jail who had been detained for longer than 48 hours. According to U.S. District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig, the purpose of these new rules is to instill a “proper procedure that is not based solely on dollars . . . consistent with what the Missouri Supreme Court has already determined needs to happen.”