Sheriff's Office

Authorities in Franklin County are collaborating to keep violent offenders jailed. 

Law enforcement agencies, including the sheriff’s office, are taking a new approach when drafting probable cause statements in response to a supreme court rule that took effect July 1 intended to provide nonserious offenders who can’t afford to bond out other options to leave custody but ensure they appear in court. 

The probable cause affidavits are written by arresting officers to include justifications as to why a person should be charged with a crime. The statements are based on evidence and then submitted to a prosecuting attorney’s office.  

With the implantation of Supreme Court Rule 33.01, officers are including reasoning to keep a suspect in custody, who otherwise could be released under the terms of the new rule. 

“Franklin County law enforcement is working collaboratively and proactively to ensure that violent offenders and repeat offenders are incarcerated in jail unless and until they post bond as opposed to merely receiving a summons in the mail notifying them of their court date,” said Franklin County Prosecutor Matthew Becker.

Earlier this week, a county man was charged with multiple assault and weapons charges involving the same victim he previously had been stalking, authorities allege.

Prior to his arrest, the man attempted to evade arrest by driving at high speeds and erratically, which Franklin County deputies feared could have injured other motorists.  Included in the probable cause statement, the sheriff’s officer detailed previous efforts to arrest the man noting the threat he posed to the victim and the risk that he would not appear back in court if he were to be released.

“The additional information in the probable cause statements — together with a supplemental memorandum my office prepares — are intended to give the Court as complete of a picture as we are capable of providing as to the nature of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, the likelihood of a defendant failing to appear in court, and the danger a defendant poses to the victim or to the community,” Becker told The Missourian

Court Rule

The rule that took effect last month orders state courts, such as the 20th District Franklin County Circuit courts, to use the least restrictive methods necessary to get criminal defendants to show up for their court dates.

Monetary bond is the last resort for suspects charged with a crime who are determined to not be a danger to themselves or the public, including nonviolent felony charges, such as stealing.

No Local Control

One  point made clear by Becker is judges in the 20th District courts, and other lower courts, had no input into the rule but still must follow the change established by the high court.

He noted that judges within the circuit are appreciative that the probable cause statements are including more reasons to keep a suspect locked up.   

“The judges appear to be grateful for the information as the Supreme Court Rule changes also make their job much more difficult,” Becker commented.

If a judge has “clear and convincing” evidence to believe that no conditions of release will do enough to protect crime victims or public safety, they may order that a defendant be held in jail without release until their trial. 

In such a case, the defendant is entitled to receive a trial within 120 days of a written request.