Hands unbuckling handcuffs

How Bail Works in Missouri

Howard L. Lotven, P.C. Nov. 21, 2023

If you’ve been charged with a crime in Missouri, you may be wondering how bail works in Missouri and about the requirements for bail. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, call me at Howard L. Lotven, P.C. in Kansas City, Missouri. As your criminal defense attorney, I can help you explore your bail options and ensure that you meet all required court dates, as well as support you throughout your entire case.    

What Is Bail?   

Bail is a financial incentive for defendants to make all scheduled court appearances. In exchange for cash or a bond (purchased from a bail bond seller), the defendant will be released from jail until the case is over. The bail will be refunded at the conclusion of the case. If the defendant misses a court appearance, the bail will not be refunded, and a warrant will be issued for their arrest.    

The judge may also set other conditions for bail; the bail amount will be forfeited and the defendant may be arrested if these conditions are not met. In Missouri, these conditions may include meeting curfew, not possessing weapons and drugs/alcohol, and finding or keeping a job.   

Who Qualifies for Bail and How Is Bail Determined in Missouri?

If you’ve been charged with a crime in Missouri, you are usually eligible for bail for most offenses that are not capital offenses (or offenses that are punishable by the death penalty, such as capital murder). You are also usually eligible if you are deemed unlikely to be a danger to yourself or others and are not deemed a flight risk.    

The judge will make their decision regarding the amount of bail based on such considerations as the severity of the crime, your criminal history, and your employment status. They may also examine your community ties (such as having family or a close network in the area).   

The judge will either set an amount of bail, deny bail, or release you on your own recognizance. Release on recognizance (ROR) often requires that you sign an agreement outlining the penalties for not appearing in court, which may include a financial penalty. 

In July 2019, the Missouri Supreme Court set new rules prohibiting courts from holding defendants in custody if the defendants cannot afford bail. As a result, a judge might have to consider a non-monetary condition of release if you cannot afford bail and if you are not considered a flight risk or a danger to yourself or others. 

What Are Bail Bonds? 

Bail bonds are alternatives to cash bail. Bonds are sold by bail bond sellers; to purchase a bond, the defendant or the defendant’s close family or friends will usually pay a premium amounting to 10% of the bail amount. (Anyone can pay bail, although the bail bond seller may also require a co-signer depending on the signer’s financial situation.)  

If the defendant does not make a court appearance, the bail bond seller will have to pay the full bail amount to the court. The bail bond seller can attempt to find the defendant and also recover funds from the signer or co-signer. For these reasons, it is important to talk to your criminal defense attorney regarding bail bond options and ensure that you make all court appearances; failure to do so can lead to financial trouble. 

You may also cover the amount of bail using a property bond. A property bond involves offering collateral (including land deeds, vehicle titles, or other valuables) to cover the rest of the bail amount. 

The Bail Process in Missouri  

If you are charged with a crime in Missouri, the judge will usually set bail at your first court appearance. You will most likely be able to pay the bail immediately at the court or at the police station. As long as you meet all bail conditions and appear for all scheduled court dates, your bail will be refunded at the close of the case (minus the premium paid to a bail bond seller if you chose that route). Your bail will be refunded regardless of the outcome of the case. 

You Deserve the Best Defense  

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Missouri, call me at Howard L. Lotven, P.C., serving Kansas City, Missouri as well as Independence, Rock Port, and Lexington. I will assist you in determining the best possible bail option for your situation, as well as make sure that you meet all bail conditions and attend all required court dates. In addition, my previous experience as a prosecutor and judge ensures that I will be able to see your case from all sides. I know how the prosecution is likely to think, and will utilize that knowledge in my fight for the best possible outcome for your case. Call me today for an appointment.