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Kansas City Criminal Defense Law Blog

New criminal code increases punishments

Long-anticipated sweeping changes and updates to the Missouri Criminal Code recently went into effect on Jan. 1, marking the culmination of 10 years of vetting and careful legislative planning. The updated code has been the point of both contention and cooperation across many sectors of the criminal justice system, hopefully in the spirit of creating a more just system in Missouri. How well justice will be granted is still to be seen.

Much of the new legal architecture focuses on creating a more granular approach to charges and sentencing. The range of charges has been increased up to five felony classes, while other areas of the law provide more nuanced ways of defining charges, while attempting to eliminate redundant or unnecessarily harsh crime definitions and recommended remedies. Under the new laws, defendants will face more incremental increases in sentencing for a variety of crimes and instances of repeated crimes.

2 medical marijuana bills headed to the legislature

As the tide of cultural opinion continues to turn, Missouri may become one of the next few states to legalize the use marijuana for general medical purposes. Two separate bills have been authored and submitted for consideration when the state legislature reconvenes for 2017, both seeking to expand the right of patients and create the basis for marijuana-based businesses to operate legally within the state.

Missouri residents may remember that only a few months ago, citizen activists came within 2,000 signatures of placing a less restrictive medical marijuana measure on the ballot for November elections. Legal gears are already turning to ensure that one is on the 2018 ballot if one bill or the other is not passed by then. As it stands, Missouri only allows the use of marijuana for very specific cases of patients with intractable epilepsy.

Man convicted of sex with a minor

Sex crimes can seem like something that only happen somewhere else, separated from us on the other side of an invisible wall, or in an episode of reality T.V. Unfortunately, sex crimes happen every day, all throughout the country. A Kansas City man has been charged with sex crimes after he repeatedly engaged in sexual acts with a 14-year-old girl that he met online.

According to federal authorities, the man claimed also be a minor when he communicated with the girl online, justifying his older appearance by saying that he was a cancer survivor and that chemotherapy and radiation therapies caused him to look older.

Kansas City fugitive receives hefty sentence

When Dorothy famously observed that she and Toto weren't in Kansas anymore, at least she wasn't looking at the prospect of returning home to face serious drug charges resulting in years of prison time. That's just what happened to a Kansas man who has just received a hefty punishment after fleeing from authorities following an arrest.

The 36-year-old had been apprehended last year in connection with a drug trafficking operation in Kansas City. Among the charges leveled at him were conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, as well as money laundering, to which he had plead guilty, admitting involvement in the local operation. According to court documents, the man had been in possession of up to 100 kilograms of cocaine, among other things. While he was waiting to receive a sentence, the man fled custody and remained at large for six years.

Engage with your local authorities before you have to

The freedom to drink responsibly is one of the great rights that America grants its citizens. Even though each state maintains its own statutes about how drinking is to be handled and by whom, alcohol is nothing to be afraid of, in and of itself. It is true that some individuals are more prone to overindulge and engage in risky behavior, but for the majority of the population it is possible to drink regularly and not to run afoul of the law. Even many police officers understand that drinking is a culturally accepted component of the coming-of-age process, as demonstrated in a recent "responsible drinking" event held for Missouri State University students by local police.

Police partnered with the Taylor Health and Wellness Center to give students an opportunity to experience various states of simulated inebriation in a controlled environment. The department hopes that by allowing students to interface directly with the department, they will have a more complete understanding of both the effects of alcohol and the department's policies on how to deal with students who are publicly inebriated.

Kansas City passes 100 homicides in 2016

Kansas City may not be the most dangerous city in the country, but it is home to a unsettling trend in violent crime. Just a few days ago, the city suffered its 100th homicide for the calendar year of 2016, the most homicides in the city since 2012.

On Thursday, Oct. 27, there were two separate killings, one involving a toddler being killed by an older child who had gotten a hold of a loose weapon. By contrast, the city had only suffered 86 homicides at this point in 2015, and in 2014 only 65. 2014 also featured an historic low for homicides, with only 82 recorded in the whole year.

Actions on social media can lead to criminal charges

People sometimes feel like the Internet provides a layer of protection. They'll say and do things on social media that they may never do in real life. However, it's very important to remember that what is said and done online is still very real, and it can lead to genuine criminal charges. The false sense of security provided by the Internet will not protect you in court.

For example, one study found that social media sites are being involved more and more often in sexual assault cases. That study showed a rise in these cases of a staggering 300 percent.

For a self-defense shooting, your life must be in danger

If you shoot someone in self-defense, it may be legal. It's important to remember, though, that your life actually has to be in danger, or you have to think you're likely going to be killed. Shooting a firearm is to be viewed as a last-ditch effort to save your own life, where you believe you'll die if you don't do it.

This does get to be a tricky area in court, because the jury may not think you were in as much danger as you thought you were in. That's why it is so crucial to think about this before discharging the firearm. If you don't, you can still be charged, even when crimes were being committed.

Woman uses Alford plea to get misdemeanor conviction after crash

A woman from Columbia, Missouri, was involved in a deadly accident on Interstate 70, and reports claimed that she had been drunk at the time that she caused the wreck.

The woman recently went before the Montgomery County Circuit Court, and she used an Alford plea. As a result, she was convicted, but she got a misdemeanor conviction. It was for careless and imprudent driving.

Cocaine charges in Missouri can result in lengthy jail terms

People who live in Missouri likely know that the state takes a harsh stance on drugs. Cocaine certainly falls within this realm. Did you know that cocaine charges could potentially involve being sentenced to life in prison in the most severe cases? That's the case for people who have more than one cocaine-related conviction.

Let's start with cocaine possession, which as the least severe penalties of all cocaine charges. Even possessing a small amount of cocaine is a class C felony. This type of felony can mean a prison term of up to seven years. It is also associated with a one-year minimum sentence. There is a chance if you are facing your first cocaine-related charge that you will be sentenced to complete a drug treatment program and probation instead of incarceration.

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