by John Osgood, Esq
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In federal cases the rule of thumb is you either are detained without bond period, or you are released on a signature bond (your own signature and perhaps that of a family member sometimes pledging assets such as real property).  It is an extremely rare exception indeed where an actual bail bondsman would become involved in a federal case, so this discussion focuses on the common daily issue of bail in a state case. 

Article I, Sections 20 and 21 of the Bill of Rights of the Missouri Constitution provide for the right to bail in all state cases except capital murder cases where the proof is evident or the presumption of guilt is great.  The mere charge of capital murder, absent the latter proof or presumption, may still entitle the accused to be released on bail.  In non-capital cases the bail may not be excessive and may only be set at a sufficient amount to ensure the presence of the defendant for trial and to protect the safety of the community.

When arrested and charged, the natural tendency is to immediately start a frantic search for a bail bondsman to get the loved one or family member released on bond at the earliest moment.  This is more often than not a wrong and bad decision for several reasons.  The very first person that should be contacted is a criminal defense attorney.  The following bullets explain why.

RECENT JACKSON COUNTY MISSOURI BAIL REFORM STEPS:  Following an unfortunate incident in Jackson County in March of 2010 where a released defendant killed a child in a subsequent high speed chase after having been arrested and released on a number of prior occasions for "driving while revoked", the Jackson County prosecutor announced an across board rule on bail recommendations for anyone charged with such an offense.  This now appears to have been nullified in large measure by a rather detailed Jackson County Administrative Order issued by the Chief Judge which sets specific guidelines for prosecutors and defenders when it comes to bail.  The order adds clarity and establishes some long needed reasonable rules on how to approach this sometimes thorny subject of balancing constitutional rights to bail and presumption of innocence against issues of threat to the community and flight risk.  The full order can be reviewed at:   Administrative Order.


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