St Louis County Prosecutor Says No More Warrants for Misdemeanors or Certain Felonies- Summons Only
Blue Lives Matter reports that newly sworn in St Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell says his office will no longer issue warrants for any misdemeanor or Class D and E Felonies. There are some exceptions, but the police union is not happy with the plan and are hoping he will reconsider – the plan places people at risk.
“The St. Louis County Police Association hopes that Mr. Bell reconsiders these changes which immediately impact St. Louis County’s most vulnerable people, specifically, women and children…Law enforcement agencies throughout St. Louis County must now enforce the laws with one hand tied behind their backs. Many of the crimes for ‘summonses’ rather than arrest warrants includes shockingly heinous offenses.” Joe Patterson, President of the Police Union in a statement
Some of the crimes for which the prosecutor will no longer issue warrants are: second-degree rape, fourth-degree child molestation, sexual contact with a student, possession of child pornography, abuse/neglect of a child, second-degree burglary, and second-degree domestic assault, according to KSDK.
Summonses are “promises” to appear on a certain date. Warrants allow a person to be arrested physically. Relying on criminals to show up in court on a promise is not the wisest move.
If someone assaults a victim, but is not arrested, only given a piece of paper to appear in court, how does that protect the victims from retaliation? It doesn’t. There are a few exceptions to the prosecutor’s memo.
The exceptions as reported by KSDK
For misdemeanors, if the victim of the crime has signs of a physical injury or if the suspect is a danger to a witness or victim, prosecutors can request arrest warrants or cash bond. [Note: for most of the charges listed above, this would be the case. Does Mr. Bell realize that?]
For class D and E felonies, prosecutors can request arrest warrants or cash bond if the suspect is a threat to a witness or victim, has more than one prior conviction involving the same victim or has failed to appear in court twice in the last two years. Those failures to appear in court must have been in an effort to avoid prosecution. Examples include evading police upon arrest or using an alias in a police encounter.
Do criminals “accidentally” avoid prosecution? Isn’t that for a judge to decide in open court?
What is his reasoning?
It appears as we read his memo that he is trying to get rid of “overcharging” of a suspect, among other things. They plan to only prosecute what is proven beyond a reasonable doubt, not offenses that are based solely on probable cause. Probable cause is the generally accepted criteria for charging someone in every state.
Persons still in jail at a bond hearing are assumed to be unable to pay and an “alternative” to their incarceration has to be done. They aren’t to be allowed to ask the judge for additional money as a condition of release. Must be the “kinder, gentler” prosecutors.
Mr. Bell’s memo is preliminary, and subject to input from other employees. But it appears that there are some flaws in his reasoning, the chief being that criminals rarely do what they’re told by a court.
Here is the prosecutor’s full memo:
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