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Criminal Code Revisions

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Criminal Code Revisions

                        MISSOURI OVERHAULS CRIMINAL LAWS

Recently, the Missouri legislature voted in favor of significant revisions to Missouri’s criminal code.  Beginning on January 1, 2017, these changes come into effect as law.

These changes include the creation of new offenses, new grades of felony and misdemeanors, increased fines associated with class C and D felonies and class A, B, and C misdemeanors, increased fines for infractions, the establishment of fines for the newly created class E felony and class D misdemeanor offenses, and the decriminalization of certain controlled substances and paraphernalia.

Right now, Missouri courts recognize four separate classifications of felony grade offenses: A, B, C, and D felonies.  Effective January 1, 2017, there will be a fifth classification of felony grade offenses, class E.  In addition to the creation of a new category for felony offenses, the changes also modify the ranges of punishment for C and D felonies.

Under the new law, a class C felony will have a range of punishment of incarceration in the Missouri Department of Corrections for not less than three years and not to exceed ten years, a fine up to $10,000.00, or any combination of that fine and those imprisonments.  Sections 558.011 and 558.002, R.S.Mo.

A class D felony will have a range of punishment of incarceration in the Missouri Department of Corrections for not more than seven years, imprisonment in the county jail or other authorized penal institution for not more than one year, a fine up to $10,000.00, or any combination of that fine and those imprisonments.  Section 558.011 and 558.002, R.S.Mo.

A class E felony will have a range of punishment of incarceration in the Missouri Department of Corrections for not more than four years, imprisonment in the county jail or other authorized penal institution for not more than one year, a fine up to $10,000.00, or any combination of that fine and those imprisonments.  Sections 558.011 and 558.002, R.S.Mo.

Like felonies, misdemeanors are likewise affected by changes to the criminal code.  Instead of three classifications of misdemeanor grade offenses, there will be four, including the newly created class D.  A class D misdemeanor will not be subject to any term of imprisonment, but a fine up to $500.00 will be allowable.  Section 558.002, R.S.Mo.

Unlike with felonies, the changes to the existing classifications of misdemeanors will not affect terms of imprisonment.  They will, however, increase the fines associated with class A, B, and C misdemeanors.  The same is also true of infractions.  Now, infractions are subject to fines up to $200.00.  On January 1, 2017, the maximum fine doubles to $400.00.  Section 558.002, R.S.Mo.

The modifications to the criminal code also include the creation of new offenses, such as manufacturing a false identification, a class A misdemeanor, and significant alterations to offenses like arson, assault, child kidnapping, fraudulent use of a credit or debit device, harassment, identity theft, invasion of privacy, passing bad checks, property damage, robbery, stalking, and stealing.

Some of the more obvious changes to the criminal code are that of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Under the new laws, possession of a controlled substance except thirty-five grams or less of marijuana or any synthetic cannabinoid will be a class D felony, whereas possession of more than ten grams but less than thirty-five grams of marijuana or any synthetic cannabinoid will be a class A misdemeanor, and possession of ten grams or less of marijuana or any synthetic cannabinoid is a class D misdemeanor.  If, however, the accused has previously been found guilty of possession of a controlled substance or a related crime, the possession of ten grams or less of marijuana or synthetic cannabinoid is subject to enhancement to a class A misdemeanor.  Section 579.015, R.S.Mo.

Similarly, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia will be classified as a class D misdemeanor unless the person has been found guilty of a prior offense of any controlled substance related crime, which enhances the classification of the violation of law to a class A misdemeanor.  If, however, it is alleged that the defendant used, or possessed with intent to use the paraphernalia to manufacture, compound, produce, prepare, test, or analyze amphetamine or methamphetamine or any of their analogues, the offense will be classified as a Class E felony.  Section 579.074, R.S.Mo.

If you are charged with a criminal offense and are in need of an attorney, contact our firm to schedule an appointment with our Associate Attorney, John G. McIntosh.  As a former public defender and assistant prosecuting attorney, John G. McIntosh has extensive experience in criminal law, which includes both bench trials and jury trials.

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Guest Tuesday, 24 October 2017