DEALING WITH A WARRANT IN MISSOURI
Our office commonly gets calls from clients who think they have a warrant in Missouri for their arrest. The first and best step to take, or if you hire our firm, what we will do first, is call the court where you think you have the warrant and inquire with the clerk.
Another option in Missouri is to check Case.net online (https://www.courts.mo.gov/casenet/base/welcome.do). The problem with Case.net is the information is not as current as the information you can get from the court. Also, very few municipal courts participate in Case.net.
Our firm can not only confirm whether you have a warrant but for what purpose and then advise you on the steps we need to take to have the warrant recalled.
Warrants can be issued in Missouri for failure to pay fines and courts costs for a traffic ticket, often for not following through with a payment plan that was established with the court for those fees.
Failure to appear (often referred to as an FTA) in court is probably the most common reason for a warrant to be issued. Courts will often not issue and FTA until you have missed a second court date.
Again, identifying WHY you have a warrant or hiring an attorney to do that is the first step to resolving the warrant.
Once you know where and why you have a warrant, the next step is to have it recalled (lifted).
If you hire an attorney, you can usually have the warrant lifted instead of having to file a bond and the attorney will get a new court date. From there the case will proceed as any other normal case would, with your attorney working on your behalf to get an amended or dismissed charge for the original matter which started the warrant process.
Some courts, however, will require the attorney to enter his appearance (notify the court they are representing you) and post bond. There are a few courts, particularly in St. Louis County, that operate this way.
A few other things about warrants should be discussed:
- If you have more than one warrant or even several warrants in Missouri, the process is much trickier. If you show up to pay bond at one court, then you will likely be placed under arrest and sent to jail in the next municipality. You’ll have to pay an additional bond there before you are released. If you have another warrant, you’ll be sent to jail in the next municipality and so on. The best way to avoid all of this is to hire an attorney to represent you to have each warrant (if possible) lifted without a bond. The way this is handled would be very specific to your circumstances.
- Warrants are not specific to a given area. If you have a warrant in O’Fallon for example, you can’t avoid getting arrested or picked up on that warrant by avoiding O’Fallon. Anywhere you get pulled over that O’Fallon warrant is going to show up.
- Remember that when you post a bond, the whole point is to ensure that you show up to your next court date. It’s really a deposit to ensure your future attendance at court. So let’s say you post bond of $300 in St. Charles Municipal Court and then hire a lawyer to assist you with your case. The lawyer gets the case resolved favorably but you have to pay a fine of $150. You’ll actually be able to use your bond money to pay the fine and you’ll get a refund, in this example of $150.
- Keep in mind that rules related to warrants, failures to appear and bonds, particularly in St. Louis County municipal courts have changed considerably since Ferguson. Generally speaking, the rules in general are changing and the courts are changing their own procedures. Some of that has been required by changes to Missouri law and some of that is self-imposed. Generally speaking, these changes are benefiting the public at large.
The best advice I can give you if you find yourself with an outstanding warrant in Missouri is to act and to do so quickly. Warrants don’t expire. You have to take action to deal with them. Problems can only multiply and the situation will grow more expensive and complicated if you fail to act.