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Criminal Law: Proposed Legislation

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Criminal Law: Proposed Legislation

Criminal Law: Proposed Legislation

The 2022 Missouri General Assembly located in Jefferson City is currently in session. Numerous bills have been submitted proposing a variety of changes. Some of these bills propose changes to Missouri’s Criminal Code, making this a legislative session worth following.  This information may be of concern to practicing Missouri criminal lawyers and those interested in the criminal justice system.

Two of the most important bills proposed include:

Senate Bill 664 which proposes to exclude juveniles convicted of second-degree murder from automatically receiving a parole hearing after fifteen years.

Senate Bill 850 which proposes to change the mandatory minimums for armed criminal action, changes the criteria for determining if someone is a dangerous offender and increases the penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm.

Armed Criminal Action Proposed Legislation

Any person who commits a felony by, with or through the use of a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon also commits the offense of armed criminal action. Currently, a person convicted of armed criminal action shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment for a term of, not less than, three years and not more than fifteen years. The punishment is imposed in addition to and consecutive to the crime committed by, with or through the use of a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon. No person is eligible for probation, parole, conditional release, or suspended imposition or execution of a sentence until the person has served at least three years of the sentence.

The proposed legislation provides that a person convicted of a first offense of armed criminal action, the minimum term of imprisonment shall be no less than three years. A person convicted of a second offense of armed criminal action shall serve a minimum term of five years imprisonment. A person convicted of armed criminal action shall not be eligible for parole, probation, conditional release or a suspended imposition or execution of a sentence.

Dangerous Offender Proposed Legislation

Missouri law currently defines a dangerous offender as a person being sentenced for a felony in which he “knowingly murdered or endangered or threatened the life of another or knowingly inflicted or attempted or threatened to inflict serious physical injury on another person and has been found guilty of a class A or B felony or a dangerous felony.” Section 558.016.4 RSMo. Under the current law, the court may sentence a person to an extended term of imprisonment if such person is a persistent or dangerous offender. The proposed legislation claims to modify the definition of a dangerous offender to include a person who has been found guilty of a dangerous felony, but the current definition seems to already address that issue. It will be interesting to see how this language is presented as the bill continues to work its way through committee.

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm Proposed Legislation

Under Missouri’s current Criminal Code, unlawful possession of a firearm is a class D felony unless a person has been convicted of a dangerous felony in which case it is a class C felony. The proposed legislation changes the penalty to a Class C felony unless the person has been convicted of a dangerous felony or the person has a prior conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm in which case, it is a class B felony.

Senate Bill 766 increases the time an offender can be held in jail if the person has been arrested for a criminal offense involving a dangerous felony. Currently, a person arrested for an offense cannot be held for more than twenty-four hours unless a criminal charge has been filed. This bill would allow a person involved in a dangerous felony to be held for forty-eight hours.

House Bill 1613 proposes to prohibit law enforcement agencies and prosecutors from referring, transferring or relinquishing possession of seized property to a federal agency for purposes of the property’s forfeiture under federal law.

When facing a state or federal criminal charge like those mentioned above, it is important to have a knowledgeable and experienced Jefferson City criminal defense lawyer on your side. With an office located three blocks from the Missouri Capitol Building where the General Assembly is in session, Scott keeps up with proposed legislative changes as part of his commitment to excellence in representing his clients. Scott concentrates his practice in the area of federal and state criminal defense. Scott is a member of the National Trial Lawyers Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. If you are seeking a professional and reliable criminal defense attorney, reach out to Scott Hamblin today.

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