JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Supreme Court considered Wednesday whether criminal defendants can be required to pay cash to be released from jail before trial.
Many who are arrested can be released from jail after posting bond. Defendants sometimes contract with a bail bondsman who covers the bond for a fee. Judges also have set cash-only bail that requires defendants to pay the full sum in order to be released.
Questions about the validity of cash-only bail arose from a St. Charles County case in which a man was accused of invasion of privacy by using a concealed camera in a massage therapy business. A judge in March issued an arrest warrant for Kirk Jackson and set cash-only bail at $75,000. Prosecutors filed an indictment in April charging Jackson with 14 felony counts.
Lou Horwitz, an attorney representing Jackson, argued Wednesday that cash-only bail should not have been allowed. He said it violates part of the Missouri Constitution stating "all persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses, when the proof is evident or the presumption great."
In a written argument submitted to the Supreme Court, Horwitz said that when a defendant has not yet posted the bond for bail and a capital offense is not charged, "it seems strikingly clear to us that both our nation's Founding Fathers and the framers of our state constitution intended cash-only bail to be unconstitutional and it should be so recognized."
Prosecutors from St. Charles County defended cash-only bail. They said bail should be adequate for the defendant to return to court. Plus, prosecutors note another section of the constitution permits courts to deny bail or impose special conditions for defendants who pose a danger to crime victim, community or others.