FAQs Pretrial Release & COVID-19:
1) Are those in custody awaiting trial entitled to a new bail hearing because of COVID-19?
- Rule 33.05 of the Missouri Rules of Criminal Procedure allows a defendant to request a review of an order of detention.
- A number of federal and state courts have reconsidered previously imposed orders of detention in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- If the court holds a new detention hearing, it will consider how the virus impacts the purposes of bail. They do this to assure the appearance of the defendant in court while protecting the community.
2) Are “at risk” individuals due to age or medical condition automatically eligible for pre-trial release?
- Courts will consider a pre-trial defendant’s age and/or medical condition in light of the purposes of bail.
- Once again, this is another way to ensure the defendant’s appearance in court. It also helps protect the safety of the community.
3) What are the factors the courts consider when making a pre-trial release determination?
By statute, the court must consider:
- the nature and circumstances of the offense charged;
- the weight of the evidence against the accused;
- the accused’s family ties, employment;
- financial resources;
- character and mental condition;
- the length of his residence in the community;
- his record of convictions;
- and his record of appearance at court proceedings or flight to avoid prosecution or failure to appear at court proceedings.
4) Can someone convicted and/or currently serving a sentence be released?
- Under Missouri law, there is a limited number of procedural avenues to pursue compassionate release. They include medical parole and executive clemency/commutation.
- In some circumstances – for those serving a sentence under federal law – when an inmate demonstrates an extraordinary and compelling reason, they are entitled to compassionate release.
5) Have any defendants in Missouri been released pending trial due to COVID-19?
- Many defendants awaiting trial didn’t have to go due to the pandemic. Many of them are awaiting trial for lower level crimes. Others have a medical condition which puts them at high risk if they contract the virus.
6) I know someone who has been released, but they did not request release. Why is this?
- In addition to requests by defendants awaiting trial, judges and prosecutors across the state are analyzing cases to determine who can and/or should be released. The intended goal is to reduce the jail and prison populations during the pandemic.
7) If I want to ask the court to review my case for release pending trial, what should I do?
- Your attorney can file a motion with the court on your behalf to request release pending trial.
- The law is very complex and it is best to consult an attorney on how to best proceed.
Other Questions about Bail and Release in Missouri during COVID-19
If you have questions about bail and/or release in Missouri relative to the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact us.