AFTER THE ARREST, YOU NEED CRIMINAL DEFENSE (and sometimes before)
A Criminal Defense Attorney provides legal help anytime there is contact between a potential defendant and a law enforcement officer. Many times the defense attorney can set a bond before the defendant is in custody. This is often not possible, and the defendant first seeks legal help after the arrest.
If you have not posted bond, I will file a motion to reduce it to an amount that gives you the best chance for release. I advise clients not to a hire a bail bondsman. Bondsmen normally charges 10% of the bond as a non-refundable fee. In contrast, if I successfully get your judge to authorize release for that same 10%, and someone posts that money, it is refunded at the conclusion of the case–assuming you do not flee! The Court Clerk holds the bond to insure the defendant’s appearance in court until the case is over.
Felonies are charges where the maximum punishment is in excess of one year in the county jail, consequently the state penitentiary is where felons do their time. Criminal defense is vitally important in these cases due to the greater range of punishment. As a result, each strategic move by the defense attorney has a magnified consequence. Most of all, lawyers have the smallest margin of error in handling the case. Experience matters.
Because an Associate Circuit Judge is not empowered by Missouri’s Constitution to handle felony trials, cases start in Associate Circuit Court and remain there until either:
- a grand jury issues an indictment or,
- Associate Circuit Judge finds there is “probable cause” to believe a felony has been committed, following a preliminary hearing. If so, the Judge send the case to the higher Circuit Court. The prosecuting attorney is required to turn over its evidence to the defense after the case reaches the Circuit Court.
Misdemeanors are charges where the maximum punishment cannot exceed one year in the county jail, $1,000.00 fine or both. The prosecutor files these cases in the Associate Circuit Division. The Associate Circuit Judge is empowered to hear all misdemeanors from beginning to end. I will get all of the evidence that the Prosecuting Attorney has against you right away. When I do, you and I will meet to discuss it in detail. Afterwards, I will discuss your case with the Prosecuting Attorney, who will hear your side of the facts for the first time. The Associate Circuit Judge conducts misdemeanor trials without a jury. Even so, the defendant has the right to have a jury trial.
St. Louis alone has over 90 municipalities, each adopts its own ordinances. When the municipal prosecutor charges a defendant with an ordinance violation, the defendant is exposed to jail time, a fine, or a combination of both. Defendants need legal help. The municipal judge may tell the defendant that there is a significant risk of the defendant doing time in the jail. Many ordinance violations cover areas that overlap State charges. DWI, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana and drug paraphernalia are some examples.