Upon being arrested the accused often has several weeks, if not months, before charges are formally filed with the Court. In these situations the accused is released on what is called “pending application of warrant” or P.A.W. This is a confusing time as many assume that the initial release means that charges are not going to be brought.
However, when someone is released P.A.W. the police reports are sent to the Prosecutor for review. It is likely that charges will be filed in the weeks that follow. It is during this time period that the accused needs to be preparing for an upcoming charge.
All Felony cases and many misdemeanor cases will result in a warrant being issued for the Defendant once the charge is filed.
Upon issuing the warrant the Court will set a bond. Traditionally bonds have been set with the idea that the bond should reasonably assure the appearance of the Defendant for trial. In the past, getting out on bail was a matter of finding a bondsman or posting the necessary cash to get the Defendant out and nothing more.
However, in recent years bond settings have been used by the Court to go beyond simply assuring the Defendant appears for trial. The laws of the State of Missouri give judges authority to set conditions for a bond for the purpose of “protecting the community.”
What “protecting the community” means is that the Court can and often does set conditions for a bond, such as requiring mandatory drug testing, electronic monitoring, SCRAM and even GPS monitoring. These conditions are set from the outset of the case and well before any finding of guilt is even evaluated. Further, the Defendant is completely responsible for the expenses associated with these conditions.
As it takes time for the State to file charges, it is best to use this time while you are awaiting charges to get an attorney hired so that your attorney can have a say in whether those conditions are necessary.
If a Defendant waits to hire an experienced attorney until after charges are filed, the Court will make the initial bond decision without the presence of the Defense. In some cases, the Court will set a “No Bond” and have the Defendant wait in jail a couple of days before making its decision. Furthermore, if the Defendant wants to amend the initial bond setting, the Defendant will have to give the Court and State seven days notice before the initial bond setting can be amended. Meanwhile, the Defendant is often stuck in jail for several days causing disruptions in home life and jeopardizing employment.
Stephen Vighi, Linda Freeman and Thurman Law Firm have years of experience aggressively defending those accused in Jefferson County. Hiring an attorney immediately after arrest and not waiting until formal charges are filed is an extraordinary benefit. Not only does it enable us to get to the Judge immediately upon the issuance of a charge it also enables the accused to meet face-to-face with an expert experienced attorney and to properly prepare the defense of the upcoming charge.