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.

Much of the law has been driven by victim advocacy groups and law enforcement, leading to stronger possible charges for defendants. Some of the more notable changes include stiffer penalties for those charged with violent crimes, increasing penalties for drunk driving that results in death to up to 10 years of prison time and the expansion to four levels of felonies in child molestation charges.

While the Missouri criminal code has needed some Spring cleaning for quite some time, the new laws may make it even harder for some defendant to find fair treatment, with punishments becoming more harsh in most instances. If you have been charged with a violent crime, it is more important than ever to have a strong defense. The legal climate for accused criminals in Missouri just got significantly hotter, and receiving fair treatment will likely require an experienced attorney committed to fighting for your rights.

Source:, “Revised Criminal Code Takes Effect January 1n A Decade in the Making,” Jan. 04, 2017


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