Criminal Defense Attorneys
Those Accused of Committing a Crime
Lee’s Summit Municipal Court and Jackson County Courts: If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Lee’s Summit, whether a major felony, D.W.I. (driving while intoxicated), D.U.I. (driving under the influence), drug or traffic charges, you will need the experienced criminal lawyers at Hamilton & Associates by your side through every step of the criminal trial process.
Most people charged with a criminal offense do not realize they cannot wait until the last minute to hire a lawyer. The lawyers at Hamilton & Associates understand the criminal laws of Lee’s Summit. Our law firm knows how negotiate with the people in charge in Lee’s Summit. We’ve known them for years. We will prepare you for trial and utilize resources such as private investigators, toxicologists, psychologists, forensic experts, drunk driving and drug evaluators and rehabilitation facilities. Being charged with a crime in Lee’s Summit can send you to jail and should not be taken lightly.
Will your driver’s license be suspended because of being charged with driving while intoxicated, possession of drugs, driving while suspended, failure to have insurance or reckless driving? Hamilton & Associates will help you through the administrative hearing process. We will do it for you.
Most people do not realize how long they can lose their license to drive and that they will be going before an Administrative Law Judge who has the power to keep them from driving. That can cost you your job. Most people don’t realize there are short time limits to appeal your driver’s license suspension (some as short as ten days!). Can you afford not to drive? We can help.
Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Law in Jackson County
- What rights do I have in Lee’s Summit Municipal Court?
- Can I be questioned, arrested or convicted if the Lee’s Summit Police did not tell me my rights?
- When should I see a lawyer?
- Who can arrest me for a Lee’s Summit criminal offense?
- Can someone other than a Lee’s Summit or Jackson County police officer arrest me?
- When is an arrest warrent used in Lee’s Summit Municipal Court?
- When can I be released from Lee’s Summit jail?
- What is bail in Lee’s Summit Municipal Court? How is it set?
- Who maintains arrest records for a Lee’s Summit criminal case? What do they include?
- What happens at an arraignment?
- What happens at a preliminary hearing?
- What should I do if I am arrested in Lee’s Summit?
Whether you are an adult citizen or non-citizen, you have certain rights if you are arrested by either a Lee’s Summit police officer, Jackson County Sheriff or Missouri Highway Patrol. Before the law enforcement officer questions you, the officer should inform you of your “Miranda” rights, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. If you are not given these warnings, your lawyer can ask that any statements you made to the Lee’s Summit police be excluded from evidence. This is an important distinction. Failure to “read you your rights” ONLY deals with admissibility of statements made by you to the police. Otherwise, it is irrelevant.
You also have a number of rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution, the Missouri Constitution, the laws of the State of Missouri and the ordinances of the city of Lee’s Summit. Whether these laws apply and how they apply will depend on the facts of your particular case. These issues should be discussed with one of our attorneys.
You can be questioned by a Lee’s Summit officer, without a lawyer present, only if you voluntarily give up your rights and if you understand what you are giving up. If you agree to the questioning, then change your mind, questioning must stop as soon as you say that you want an attorney. If the questioning continues after you request a lawyer and you continue to talk, your answers can be used against you if you testify to something different. You may be required to give certain evidence (physical things they want). For example, if you are suspected of driving under the influence, they’ll want you to take a Breathalyzer test to measure how much alcohol in your system (if any). If they think you are “high” on drugs, they’ll try to persuade you to give a urinalysis test. If you refuse to take either test, they will tell you that your driver’s license will be suspended and the refusal may be used against you in court.
So yes, you can be arrested, questioned, convicted and put in jail even if they police do not read you your rights. As a general concept, it is nearly always better NOT to speak with the police. Just politely tell the Lee’s Summit police officer that discussing the matter without your lawyer makes you nervous but you would be happy to cooperate once we are there with you. Remember, it is their job to get you to talk.
If you are given a court date for Lee’s Summit Municipal Court or Jackson County Circuit Court in Independence, you need to see us, the sooner the better! First, physical evidence tends to get lost, disappear, and change over time. They sooner we gather that evidence, the better your criminal defense will be.
The memories of witnesses do not improve with time. Worse, the Lee’s Summit Prosecutor’s office or the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office (unintentionally) may cause the witness to become biased against you. The sooner we can interview the witnesses, the more evidence we can get to assist your criminal defense; the more likely they will be on your side.
You need to contact us as soon as possible for your own peace of mind. You’ll need to know the range of punishment for your case. You’ll need to know the typical result for cases like yours. We know what is typical out of Lee’s Summit Municipal Court. We know what is typical out of Jackson County Circuit Court. Wouldn’t it help you to know as well? If for no other reason, you’ll need this information to make your financial and personal plans to assist you in your criminal defnese.
There is no substitute for a good criminal defense lawyer who starts early in the process.
All law enforcement officers – such as Lee’s Summit police officers, Jackson County sheriff’s deputies and Missouri state highway patrol officers – can arrest you whether they are on or off duty, in most cases.
A probation or parole officer also can arrest you. Do not expect this to happen. A probation or parole officer will rather report any perceived violation of either your Lee’s Summit Municipal Court probation or your Jackson County or Missouri parole violation to the court. Then the Court will issue an arrest warrant. Then, the police will arrest you when you next encounter them.
The test of whether a Lee’s Summit officer can arrest you is “probable cause.” This is defined as “reason to believe you committed a criminal offense.”
Can you be arrested for a traffic offense in Lee’s Summit? Absolutely. One typically will not see an actual “arrest” (where they take you to jail) unless the traffic offense is driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence, driving while suspended, driving while revoked or a more serious offense.
What if you don’t sign your ticket? Then, the Lee’s Summit police officer can arrest you and take you to jail. Signing the traffic citation is not an admission of anything. It will not be held against you. It is simply your promise to either pay the ticket or show in court.
Can they? Yes. SHOULD THEY? No. Any person, such as a private security guard or a regular person, can make a “citizen’s arrest” if they see a misdemeanor being attempted or committed. (A misdemeanor is a criminal offense punishable by less than one year in jail) They also can make a legal arrest for a felony as long as it actually was committed and they have good reason to believe you did it. The person making the citizen’s arrest must take you to a Lee’s Summit police officer or Lee’s Summit Municipal Court Judge to consider whether to take the person into custody.
Making a “citizen’s arrest” in Lee’s Summit or Jackson County, Missouri is foolish in nearly all circumstances. Stopping a violent crime for a short period of time before the police arrive can be heroic. That is one thing. Taking on the mantle of a police officer and making arrest because the person thinks the person “should” be arrested is another. This can be a crime in and of itself. (impersonating a law enforcement officer, assault, kidnapping, etc.)
A warrant is typically required before a Lee’s Summit police officer you take a person into custody in their home. However, one can be arrested at home without a warrant if the police officer personnel sees a crime being committed (watch those windows!) or if fast action is needed to prevent the person from escaping, destroying evidence, endangering someone’s life or seriously damaging property.
Warrants need to be signed by a Lee’s Summit Municipal Court Judge or a Jackson County, Missouri Circuit Court Judge. That judge must find that there is “probable cause.” (reason to believe that given the evidence as it exists at the time, that a crime has been committed)
If the defendant’s name is unknown, “John Doe” is typically used on the Lee’s Summit warrant – along with the person’s description. Once the arrest warrant is issued, the law enforcement officer that asked for the warrant typically tracks down the person (they usually already know where they are) and arrests them.
The officer does not have to possess a copy of the warrant. Generally, there is no time limit on how long the warrant will remain in effect before the arrest.
Before entering the suspect’s home, a law enforcement officer must knock. They must also identify themselves. Third, they must state that they are there for purposes of making an arrest.
If the person refuses to open the door – or if no one answers – or if there is another good reason – the officers can and typically will break in through a door or window.
If the Lee’s Summit police have an arrest warrant, you should be allowed to see it. If they don’t have the warrant with them, you can ask to be allowed to see it as soon as practical. The Lee’s Summit police and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office have the authority to search the area within the arrestee’s reach. If the person is arrested outdoors, they may not go inside and search the arrestee’s home or car. That would be beyond the scope of the arrest warrant (such evidence could later be excluded and not held against the person).
There are several ways to be released from jail in Lee’s Summit. First, you may be detained because of an active warrant. If this is the case, there will likely be a “bond.” This is money put down as your guarentee that you will show for your court date. In this case, one simply needs to put down the money Lee’s Summit Municipal Court is asking for and you will be released. If you don’t have the amount of money Lee’s Summit Municipal Court is asking for, then you need to check whether your bond says “surety.” In that case, you can hire a bail bondsman to loan you the money (for a price) so you can be released from jail. A good bail bonding company out of Lee’s Summit is Freedom Bail Bonds (Call Sean O’Malley at 816-898-7644).
A third way to be released from jail in Lee’s Summit is to ask either Lee’s Summit Municipal Judge Jum Tobin or Lee’s Summit Municipal Judge Dana Altieri to reduce your bond to a lower amount of money or to a signature bond (often called an “ROR” or “OR” bond). You’ll only get one or the other judge assigned to you. Getting released from Lee’s Summit Muicipal jail in this manner is unlikely, but still a possibility.
The fourth way to be released from Lee’s Summit Municipal Court jail is to complete your sentence. Naturally, the criminal defense lawyers at Hamilton & Associates do our best to see that you get no jail time at all, thus avoiding this problem.
The amount of bail in Lee’s Summit Court (money deposited with Lee’s Summit court to insure that you will appear) is set either by the Lee’s Summit Municipal Police or by a Lee’s Summit Municipal Court judge). Ultimately, the Lees Summit judge decides how much bail will be.
Is is possible to not have bail at all. This is called an “ROR” or “OR” bond, which stands for Release upon their Own Regonizance. The most recognizable example of this is a Lee’s Summit or Missouri State Highway Patrol traffic citation. The police office asks you to sign the back of your ticket and then you can go on your own way. It’s not an admission of anything. It can’t be held against you. It is simply your promise to show for court in Lee’s Summit.
The Lee’s Summit local police department keeps your records from Lee’s Summit Municipal Court. It keeps both court records and arrest records. Your past criminal record may also be in a national data bank, such as the ALERT system. The arrest record includes when and why you were arrested, whether the charges against you were dropped or whether you were convicted of the charges, and the subsequent sentence imposed. Both pleading guilty and being found guilty after a trial count as convictions.
Missouri also has its own arrest data bank. The Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System (M.U.L.E.S.) computer system keeps nearly all law enforcement information about Missouri residents and is for law enforcement purposes only. Don’t worry about your criminal arrest records in either the ALERT system or in MULES. Only law enforcement can access those records.
Lee’s Summit Municipal Court has its own computer system with a paper back up. It will contain your court documents. This shows what charge you were accused of committing, whether that charge was changed to some other offense, what you promised to do (say on probation), whether you are still on probation, whether you complied with probation (if applicable), whether you were convicted and what punishment you received. The records of Lee’s Summit Municipal Court are for the use of court personnel only. Regular folks do not have access to them.
Case.net is a computer system operated by the Missouri government (Office of State Court Administrators). It shows all Missouri State Court records (more or less). It also shows SOME municipal court records. Lee’s Summit Municipal Court does not submit its court record information to Case.Net. You’ll generally only find state court records there (such as Jackson County Circuit Court).
The Missouri Department of Corrections and the Missouri Secretary of State’s office maintains your criminal record. A conviction in Lee’s Summit Municipal Court will be reported to and will be reflected in these records. These records are available to the public and can be accessed by regular (non law enforcement) citizens. If you are charged in Lee’s Summit Municipal Court or Jackson County Circuit Court in Independence, you’ll want to hire a lawyer to keep any conviction off of these records.
The Missouri Department of Revenue keeps your Missouri Driver’s Record. This record will show any conviction from any Lee’s Summit Municipal Court traffic charge. It will also show any driver’s license suspension from a Lee’s Summit Municipal Court charge. Remember, this also applies to any other court in Missouri (or other state). These records are easily accessible to the public. One can even call the Missouri Department of Revenie over the phone and get this information. This is the record you will most want to keep clean and free of either convictions or driver’s license suspensions.
An arraignment in either Lee’s Summit Municipal Court or Jackson County Circuit Court is a simple process. First, the Judge will ask whether you are pleading guilty or not guilty. Second, the Judge will ask whether you want to be shown the charges (in case you are deaf but want to read them). Third, the Judge will ask whether you want the charges against you read to you (in case you can hear but not read). Last, if you plead guilty the judge will sentence you. If you plead not guilty, the Judge will set the matter over to another date. That is what happens in a Lee’s Summit arraignment.
You have certain rights at an arraignment. The arraignment must occur without unnecessary delay – usually within a short period of time- after being arrested. An attorney may be appointed for you at the arraignment if you cannot afford one AND if you are facing jail time AND if you did not bail out of jail (otherwise, no free attorney).
Bail can be raised or lowered at a Lee’s Summit Municipal Court arraignment. You can plead nolo contendere at an arraignment. It is very unusual for this to happen. This means you will not contest to the charges. Legally this is the same as a guilty plea, but it cannot be used against you in a non-criminal case (unless the charge can be punished as a felony).
You will want an attorney whenever court happens if at all possible. There are many ways to mess up one’s own court case and only one way to do it right.
Do not expect a preliminary hearing either in Lee’s Summit Municipal Court or Jackson County Circuit Court. Lee’s Summit criminal cases do not qualify. Jackson County criminal cases will be handled through a grand jury. This skips the preliminary hearing process. If the Jackson County Prosecutor did not use a grand jury in your case, and if you then ask for a preliminary hearing, expect for the Jackson County Prosecutor to dismiss the charges against you, convene a grand jury, send out an arrest warrant with a new bond, and the process starts over where it left off (except you have goen through a lot more trouble and money).
What happens during a preliminary hearing? In essence, the Jackson County Judge will hear evidence from the prosecuting attorney of Jackson County, Missouri and your criminal defense attorney. That evidence will revolve around whether the arresting police officer in Lee’s Summit had “probable cause” to make the arrest. Specifically, the judge will determine whether, based upon the evidence presented, there is reason to believe the defendant committed the crime accused.
The standard for a preliminary hearing in Jacnkson County, Missouri criminal cases is very low. During the preliminary inquiry or hearing, usually within a short period after arrest, the Jackson County, Missouri Prosecuting Attorney’s office must present evidence showing a reasonable suspicion that the crime was committed and that you did it. This hearing is often waived by the criminal defense attorney for strategic pusposes.
REMEMBER THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER! You could be sentenced to time in jail for driving while intoxicated, possession of drugs or reckless driving. It is important to contact a criminal defense lawyer prior to your court date.
The Lee’s Summit police arrested me! A Jackson County, Missouri Sheriff arrested me! What should I do?
First, you should NOT make any statements to the police. The vast majority of criminal defense cases are ruined by people making statements to the police. Remember, you are under arrest; it is already too late for you to talk your way out of trouble. Further, Lee’s Summit Municipal police, Jackson County Sheriff’s deputies and Missouri State Highway Patrolmen are highly trained in taking statements. They know how to get evidence from defendants. Let your criminal defense attorney do the talking.
Second, bail out of jail. It does you no good to stay in jail. This reduces the time you have to meet with your criminal defense lawyer. This reduces the time you have to get the money for fines, court costs, and yes. . . your criminal defense attorney. Further, staying in jail does not benefit plea negotiations. A criminal defense attorney cannot effectively negotiate for jail time that has already been served. This is just like going to a car dealership, handing them all your money, then asking to negotiate on price. Life does not work that way.
Third, call your criminal defense lawyer. The sooner the process of building your defense starts, the fresher the evidence will be, the more options you and your Lee’s Summit attorney will have.