What you need to know about the upcoming changes in the Criminal Code come 2017
New Criminal Code in Missouri beginning January 1st, 2017

Introduction

For a decade now, Missouri’s lawmakers have been working hard to revamp the state’s criminal code in a view to reviewing the state’s sentencing laws and modify some felonies and misdemeanors classification structures. After many sitting and deliberation, the bill has been signed off by both the Senate and House of Representatives and presently awaiting Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s approval for the reviewed law to be taken effect by 1st of January, 2016.

The largest modification in the criminal code is the presentation of the new felonies and misdemeanors classes that will take effect at said date with effect changes that may have a severe impact on criminality in Missouri. The Missouri General Assembly passed the bill containing revision to the current criminal code in the years back. The Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorney said it takes ten years to draft, pass and implement a review as it is in the case of this criminal code. According to the Association, the criminal code revision is an effort to put a modern criminal code in place to serve as a 21-century basis for the criminal justice system in Missouri.

The amendment cut across all facets of criminal law such as violent offenders, intensifying repeated punishment, strengthening DWI enforcement laws and increasing child sex predators’ penalties. The revision also features some other issues such as the addition of incest as an aggravator in molestation cases of a child, addition of a fifth-felony class, habitual classification of offenders as dangerous felonies, the formation of four levels of felony child molestation, and increasing the punishment of drunk driving crash death.

Changes in the Missouri Criminal Code

The legislative arms of Missouri have effected many changes in the criminal code in a view to address some crime issues in the country. Highlighted below are some of the significant changes made to the criminal code:

Changes to Missouri DWI law: Around the world, driving while intoxicated by alcohol is not encouraged; hence, the rule of law to stop this habit in a view to minimizing the rate of accident in the highway. Due to changes in the Missouri criminal code, the state’s DWI laws would receive effects in many ways when it finally takes effect by January 2017. A change would include a label of “habitual offenders” for multiple intoxicated driving offenses convicts. These hardened criminals such as repeated convicted drivers of any of the under listed offenses:

– Three impaired driving offenses if at least two of the offenses involved the injury or caused death of another person
– Four or more impaired driving offenses if at least one offense caused death or involved injury of another person
– Five or more impaired driving offenses

The classification of Missouri drivers as “habitual offenders” under the reviewed law would be highly subjected to severe punishment for repeat DWI convictions compared to other individuals. It is not only limited to road driving, but also to the waterway in the state as it will extend to boating while intoxicated. Reviewed classes for felonies and misdemeanors: Another change in the criminal code is a new classification of some felonies and misdemeanors. Not only classification was made, but also restructuring and sentencing laws in agreement with each class. There is a creation of additional class D and E for misdemeanor and felony respectively in the bill. The new bill positions change to a jail term of Class C felony from three to ten years as opposed to the current law which stated Class C felony prison term to be not more than seven years. Also, there is increment of jail term from four to seven for felony DWI. Changed Bill would relax penalties in some areas: Generally, people of Missouri believed that every changed criminal code is often focused in cracking down on convicted people that may be condemned for certain crimes or the other. Nonetheless, the bill would also relax some penalties on some convicted offenders as opposed to people’s thought. Some of the examples of these penalties that the new bill would relax are;

– The bill modify the DWI ignition interlock law by taking away the requirement of equipped GPS devices
– The new bill will also lessen the punishment of the first-time convict of marijuana possession especially in the case involving drug of 10 grams or less weight. This means that the crime will be classified as Class D under misdemeanor as against Class A which was classified before. The convicts will only offer to pay a fine as against jail term.

Other significant modifications for intoxication-related boating and traffic offenses: County and municipal decree driving violation under the alcohol or drugs influence were reinserted into this bill, defined as “intoxication-related traffic offense”. This ordinance violations are contained under the current law definition as against in the reviewed code which will take effect by January 2017. However, under the reviewed code, it is cleared stated that any criminal indictment associated to the operating of a vessel, vehicle, or even airplane with excessive alcohol content or wholly intoxicated unless existing other evidence must be discharged. This new development implies that the reference to offenses handling a vehicle, aircraft or vessel with excessive content of blood alcohol has been removed, thereby only employs to operating aircraft, vehicle, or vessel while impaired or intoxicated.
Changes definitions and punishment scales

The new criminal code has effected definition changes for being “aggravated” or “persistent offender” in both traffic and boating intoxicated-related offenses:
The bill reviewed that “a person is a ‘persistent offender’ if the individual has been found guilty of one intoxicated-related traffic offense in which the defendant was operating a vehicle while intoxicated, and another person was injured or killed.” This change is also similar to “persistent boating offender” definition. The bill states clearly that anyone finds wanting of this crime of intoxication-related and boating must serve a two-year jail term before being eligible for probation under the review edition. Also, the reviewed bill defined this as concerning an “aggravated boating offender” that; “A person is an ‘aggravated boating offender’ if he or she has been found guilty of two or more intoxication-related boating offenses committed on separate occasions when at least one of the incidents involved the defendant injuring or killing another person while operation a vessel while intoxicated.”

The offense of boating or driving under the influence of alcohol is recently listed under Class B misdemeanor; however, it has been reviewed to take effect by January 2017 with exclusive circumstances involving children in the vehicle with a prior number of offenses of the offender. Intoxicated-related traffic and boating offenses have a complex definition and punishment scale. Let’s quickly look at the scale as changed to be taken effect by January 2017:

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A St. Louis native and graduate of Saint Louis University Law School, Chris Combs has been recognized as one of St. Louis' top criminal defense and personal injury attorneys. He is passionate about getting positive results for all his clients and values personal communication above all.

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