Circuit Attorney News & Updates

 
The Warrant Office: How a Crime Becomes a Case
April 29, 2014
 

The Warrant Office is the first stop for police when they bring criminal charges to prosecutors for consideration. It is the “entry port” for the prosecution of a criminal case.

 

The charging policies of the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office have remained largely unchanged for more than 20 years. They are designed to honor the constitutional rights of the accused, hold people accountable for breaking the law, and protect the safety of the public.

 

Our charging process is unique, as we require investigating officers to bring witnesses, victims, police reports, and other evidence into the Warrant Office to speak with prosecutors prior to issuing charges. Most prosecutors in Missouri require only police reports to make charging decisions, with the exception of high-level crimes like sexual assaults and homicides.

 

If a prosecutor in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office decides a violation of state law has been committed and there is sufficient evidence to prove the suspect’s guilt of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, then that person is charged.

 

If a prosecutor declines to file charges brought by police, the Circuit Attorney’s Office may take the case under advisement for further investigation.

 

This can allow police to gather more evidence such as a lab test, and allow prosecutors to speak with a victim or witness who was unable or unwilling to come to the Warrant Office. The top reason the CAO can’t issue charges and hold an offender accountable is due to the lack of cooperation from victims and witnesses. 

 

Each year, an average of 4,000 felony cases and between 3,000 and 7,000 misdemeanor cases are issued from the Warrant Office, which is staffed each day with at least three prosecutors.

 

On evenings and weekends, a prosecutor is available via a beeper for urgent matters. 

 

Do you have questions about the Warrant Office? Email caocommunications@stlouiscao.org

 
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