Category: KC Defense Counsel Articles

Requirements For Probable Cause In Missouri


Probable Cause Criminal Defense

In criminal law, probable cause is defined as the legal standard by which law enforcement officers have reasonable grounds to believe that a particular individual has committed a crime or is going to commit a crime, especially to justify making an arrest, obtaining an arrest warrant, conducting personal or property search, seizing property relating to a suspected crime, or preferring criminal charges. Missouri laws obligate police officers to have valid reasons to undertake the aforementioned law enforcement duties.

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What is the difference between an SIS and an SES?


Difference between SIS and SES in Missouri

In Missouri, when an accused person pleads guilty to an offense or is convicted at trial the court can grant the defendant probation. There are two common types of probation that Missouri courts impose for criminal offenders-Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS) and Suspended Execution of Sentence (SES). The two probation options may be somehow confusing especially for persons who do not have a good understanding of the law.

In SIS, a defendant who pleads guilty to the charges does not get sentenced and instead, they are placed on probation for a fixed period of time. However, the trial court retains the right to pronounce a sentence which lies within the statutory range stipulated in the criminal statute if the defendant violates the terms of the court and their probation is revoked. But if the defendant completes the probation period in good standing, no sentence is imposed on them and the offense does not appear on their record. Therefore, SIS simply means the court sets the sentence aside until probation is completed under specific terms set out by the court. This option not only keeps defendants out of jail, it also gives them a chance to demonstrate to the courts that they can adhere to the requirements of the probation. More often, SIS probation is imposed for first-time offenders and persons who commit minor felonies. This option is perceived to be more lenient but that is not always the case.

SES may seem to be similar to SIS in terms of being placed on probation but it’s different. In SES, a defendant who pleads guilty in court is convicted and sentenced with jail time but execution of the sentence is suspended. The defendant will not serve the jail time and they are placed on probation. Should they fail to successfully complete the probation in good standing, the court has the jurisdiction of executing the jail time. The conviction permanently appears on the defendant’s record even after successfully completing probation.
An SES is considered to be a final judgment by Missouri courts while an SIS is not. Should a person who has received an SIS violate the stipulated terms of probation, they are taken before a judge who will determine if indeed they violated the probation requirements. If the court finds the defendant guilty of violating probation requirements, all parties will go back to the drawing board to determine the sentence to be imposed. On the other hand, a person with an SES and has violated probation terms will have the previously-agreed sentence executed. For instance, if you had an SES with 4 years of probation, violating your probation means you’ll be serve a jail time of 5 years with minimal chances of negotiation.
More often, first-time misdemeanor defendants prefer SIS to SES simply because the former is not considered a conviction provided one completes their probation period successfully. Under the criminal statute, SIS is not a conviction and can only be considered in subsequent trials and not other purposes. In case the defendant commits a similar offense, the courts will treat the SIS as a prior offense. A defendant who completed their probation successfully can deny any prior criminal convictions when applying for employment. On the other hand, the SES is an actual conviction that applies for all purposes.

Overall, an SIS is considered less strict than an SES. If you violate an SES, the court has a right to execute the actual sentence but as for the SIS, violating terms of probation will get the parties back to the drawing table to determine a new sentence.
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Do I Plead Guilty or Not Guilty?


Criminal Defense Not Guilty

What is the most likely outcome of my court date tomorrow?

I have used all my allowed continuances and tomorrow 7/18/18 @ 6:00pm is my court date where I’ll have to plead either guilty or not guilty to 3 charges. 1. Leaving the scene of an accident. 2. Very small amount of marijuana possession. 3. Not sure what it’s actually called but as I was pulled out of my vehicle to speak with Overland PD someone in the back seat tossed an eye glass container with an unknown substance into my driver side floor board. I was told it would be sent to a lab to test what it is. Now I am NOT guilty of the unknown substance charge whatsoever they could dust it for prints and mine will not be there. The insignificant amount of marijuana I am guilty of. The accident was more like our mirrors tapped in road rage while the other driver drove on the wrong side of the road to get around me. I’m not sure what to plead or what to expect, I am currently looking for work and can not afforded hire an attorney unfortunately.

Attorney Justin C. Hunt Answers

Best Answer
I am assuming that the judge either took your plea or you went to trial. It’s also possible that the judge set the trial for a later date. If you have more time, hire an attorney to keep this off your record. If you did plead guilty, it’s not too late! An attorney can attempt to set aside your guilty plea and work out a new arrangement to keep this off your record. Contact a local attorney for more information.

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Marijuana Laws, Missouri, Kansas, And Federal


Marijuana Laws

Depending on where you live in the United States will determine your access to both recreational and
medicinal marijuana. Currently, 10 states and the District of Columbia allow adult recreational use while
33 states permit medical usage of marijuana.

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Missouri DUI Check Points And The Constitution


traffic attorney kansas city

In the state of Missouri, law enforcement officials are permitted to set up DUI checkpoints. Typically, these checkpoints are placed on busy roads and the officers involved will either stop every car that comes through or they will use a pre-formulated system to stop cars in a seemingly random manner. Once stopped, a driver may be asked to submit to either a field sobriety test or a breath test and if they fail, they will be arrested and charged with a DUI – even if they didn’t show signs of drunk driving before reaching the DUI checkpoint.

Do DUI Checkpoints Violate The 4th Amendment?

Under normal circumstances, when a police officer initiates a traffic stop in order to determine if someone is driving while under the influence, they first need probable cause to show that there was a legal reason for pulling the driver over.  For example, if a driver runs a red light or is erratically swerving across lanes, an officer has a legal reason to pull them over. Then, based on their interaction with the driver, they may proceed with a field sobriety test or ask the driver to take a Breathalyzer test. Without probable cause, the stop and subsequent DUI can be legally challenged in court.

Knowing this, it’s easy to understand why so many Americans believe that DUI checkpoints violate the 4th Amendment.

What Is The 4th Amendment?

The 4th Amendment states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Basically, this protects Americans by prohibiting law enforcement from making searches and seizures without probable cause. When applying the 4th Amendment to DUI checkpoints, the following should be noted:

  1. Stops Are Conducted With No Probable Cause: Either all drivers are stopped or predetermined cars are stopped, such as every third car. It doesn’t matter if every traffic law has been followed, the driver will be stopped.
  2. There Can Be No Oath Or Affirmation: This means that the officers involved can’t swear to the driver’s behavior prior to the stop. For example, in a typical DUI arrest, the officers could swear something like “I witnessed the driver go through two red lights before finally coming to a stop.” This would be their legal reason for pulling over the driver. While an officer may note the driver’s behavior after they approach them in the DUI checkout, they cannot confirm that the driver was breaking any laws prior to the stop.

 Despite this, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that DUI checkpoints are legal, as long as they meet specific criteria.

DUI Checkpoints: Law Enforcement Must Meet Certain Criteria

In order for a DUI checkpoint to be viewed as constitutional, the following criteria must be met:

  1. The decision to proceed with a DUI checkpoint at a specific site must be made by a law enforcement supervisor – not an officer in the field.
  2. Neutral and mathematical selection must occur. This means that officers cannot single out drivers because of age, race, vehicle type, or any other factor.
  3. Safety must be taken into account. When setting up a checkpoint, proper warning signs and lighting must be used to ensure that drivers have a sufficient amount of time to slow their vehicle and come to a stop. In addition to this, clearly marked law enforcement vehicles must be used at the stops.
  4. The checkpoint site must be in a “reasonable” location.
  5. Officers must use “good judgment” when determining what time the checkpoint should begin and end.
  6. Anyone passing through the checkpoint should only be stopped long enough for the officer to check for signs of intoxication.
  7. The time and location of the checkpoint should be publically announced in advance.

If law enforcement fails to meet with this criteria it may be considered an unconstitutional checkpoint and anyone charged with a DUI may be able to use this argument as part of their defense.

Do I Have To Go Through A DUI Checkpoint?

If, while driving, you note that a DUI checkpoint is ahead and you can legally turn or make a legal U-turn to avoid the checkpoint, you may do so. However, there are almost always officers posted to specifically watch drivers who avoid going through a checkpoint and if you violate any traffic laws they will pull you over.