Effective July 1, 2015, a Missouri Supreme Court Rule prohibits municipal courts throughout the state from placing defendants in warrant solely because they failed to settle payment obligations or stated to the Court an inability to pay. So, prior to this Rule, if an individual showed up to court but then didn't pay the assessed fine, a warrant could be issued for his/her arrest. Not so anymore.
From today forward, defendants who have missed a payment on their case in the City of St. Louis will be issued a letter reminding them of their payment obligation and asking them to come to the Court to schedule a new payment date or to get on a payment plan. This buys defendants 30 days and another court date to become compliant with their payment obligations without the burden of a warrant. If defendants miss their reassigned court date, a warrant will be issued for their arrest since they had been given a second chance and still failed to act.
The Missouri Supreme Court requires this of all municipal courts throughout the state for any case from today forward. However, Mayor Francis Slay is taking this measure a step further by asking the Court to retroactively lift all warrants stemming from a failure to pay and extend the 30-day grace period to all such cases -- not just those protected by the Supreme Court's Rule change, which covers cases July 1 or later.
"That's the most ethical and fair thing to do," Mayor Slay said. "We want people to fulfill their obligations to the law, but when a person's only remaining commitment is to make a payment on their case, doing so shouldn't create an undue stress or burden. Having a warrant out for your arrest can cause understandable stress and complications in seeking a job, housing, or other resources, which in turn, increases the difficulties someone might have fulfilling their payment obligations to the court in the first place."
Canceling warrants from failure to pay and extending the grace period affects about 29,000 people, representing a total of nearly 56,000 cases in the City. However, these individuals must still come in to court to receive a new court date if they are unable to pay immediately.
The St. Louis City Municipal Court is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1520 Market Street (enter off of 16th Street). Defendants have until Friday, July 31, 2015, to get a new court date to avoid a warrant for their arrest.
An individual may choose to pay off his/her assessed fine any day at the Court, or instead, he/she can receive a new court date to arrange payment. No money is required to schedule a new court date.
Furthermore, Supreme Court Rule 37.65(a) makes law of what the St. Louis City Municipal Court has been doing for years: If a defendant cannot pay his/her fines in full, the court will give the individual additional time to pay or be put on a payment plan. St. Louis City municipal judges also take into account a violator's ability to pay and also may assign community service in lieu of assessed fines.
Office of the Mayor
Courts and Justice System
Feedback is anonymous.