Reed warns that Supreme Court ruling will impact local suspects
Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed says a new Supreme Court ruling that went into effect Monday could mean that suspects charged in local-area crimes will not be held in jail while their case proceeds through the court system. Therefore, Reed says, it’s likely that residents will see defendants who normally would be held on a cash bond are instead released back into the community for months until a disposition can be reached in their case or a trial scheduled.
“This means that if someone comes in and burglarizes your house, and they don’t have a weapon with them, then they can’t be arrested and held on bond. They won’t be in jail,” Reed said. “Instead, they’ll just get a summons in the mail to appear in court.”
“We want people to know that this isn’t the sheriff’s department’s call. It really never has been,” Reed said, explaining that Missouri court judges set bail amounts in cases. “But now, it’s not even in the judges’ hands. This wasn’t something that was voted on by the citizens of Missouri. This isn’t something that law enforcement has any say in. It’s the Supreme Court’s ruling.”
Under the Supreme Court “Missouri Bond Reform” ruling, suspects charged with crimes will be released from jail while their cases are pending.
The new rule requires judges to consider conditions of release that do not require money first. If a monetary bond is issued, it must not exceed “that necessary to ensure the defendant’s appearance.”
The court must then determine if the bail should be waived or minimized before ordering a defendant to pay that bond. Also, a defendant may only be detained pretrial if “required for safety,” the ruling says.
Zel Fischer, Chief Justice of Missouri’s Supreme Court, rolled out the plan in his annual State of the Judiciary address in January. In his speech he said, “We all share a responsibility to protect the public, but we also have a responsibility to ensure those accused of a crime are fairly treated according to the law, and not their pocket books.”
Reed says he believes the new ruling will immediately impact Ozark County and the defendants in the court system, those involved in old cases as well as new cases.
In a message to the Times, he said, “Judges can make a defendant post bond if he [or she] has a history of failure to appear. If a judge also feels that he or she can be a threat to the public, a judge can make a bond requirement. Some folks are under a misconception that the sheriff releases them when in fact it’s the courts. We catch them, and then it’s the court’s decision whether to release or not.”
Reed added, “This is the main reason I have decided to retire and maybe advocate in a better way for law enforcement officers. The laws are turning against LEOs and the honest citizens. I have a lot more to address to the citizens in the future and will do so at the right time. Meantime, we will catch them, book them and let the courts do as they will.”