House Committee Advances Bill to Reorganize Missouri's Criminal Code

Missouri Bar Proposal First Major Changes in More Than 30 Years

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – The Missouri House Judiciary Committee today advanced legislation to reorganize Missouri’s criminal code making it more transparent to the public. The measure, House Bill 210, is the result of four years of cooperative work of The Missouri Bar Criminal Code Revision Subcommittee comprised of experienced prosecutors and defense attorneys, as well as representatives from the judiciary and the legislature. It marks the first major update of the Missouri Criminal Code since 1979.

HB210 is sponsored by the committee chairman, Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia. The supporting vote by the committee recommends the bill for debate by the full House.

Missouri Bar President Patrick B. Starke said the modernized Criminal Code would be more cohesive and make penalties more consistent.

“It is great to see the work of the criminal justice professionals who crafted this proposal gain the committee’s full support,” Starke said. “We appreciate the time and energy Rep. Cox and the committee members devoted to carefully examining each section of this large bill and voting to advance it. Organizing and clarifying the Code will allow the criminal justice system to be more efficient and reduce errors, saving taxpayers money.”

The Criminal Code includes statutes that pertain to crimes and punishments, sentencing provisions, defenses, and principles of liability. Since its enactment, some statutes have become outdated, new crimes have been defined and some punishments have become inconsistent.

The specially appointed bar committee was chaired by Jason Lamb, executive director of the Missouri Office of Prosecution Services, and Gwenda Robinson, district defender of the Appellate/Post-conviction Office of the Missouri State Public Defender System in St. Louis. The panel considered, revised and reorganized the scores of statutes comprising Missouri’s Criminal Code.

Starke noted the most prominent aspect of the proposal is the reclassification of felony offenses in which a fifth felony class would be created. The subcommittee agreed this would allow for punishment to more appropriately correspond with the nature of the crime. The proposal also would increase fine amounts that have not been adjusted since the Code was enacted.

Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, and has received several hearings in the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. A summary of the Bar’s proposed revisions to the Criminal Code is available at http://www.mobar.org/legislative-proposals.aspx.

Each year, The Missouri Bar drafts and endorses a variety of legislative proposals designed to improve the law on behalf of the public. The Missouri Bar is a statewide organization that is dedicated to improving the legal profession, the law and the administration of justice for all Missourians. Created in 1944 by order of the Supreme Court of Missouri, it serves all 30,000 of Missouri’s practicing attorneys. To achieve its mission, The Missouri Bar provides a wide range of services and resources to its members, as well as the media, educators and the citizens of Missouri. To learn more about The Missouri Bar, visit www.mobar.org.

MoBar Quick Info

Organization and Purpose: The Missouri Bar is the statewide organization that all Missouri lawyers must belong to if they practice law. The Missouri Bar was created in 1944 by order of the Supreme Court of Missouri. It is considered an instrumentality of the state, not a private association nor a state agency. Its mission is to improve the legal profession, the administration of justice, and law on behalf of the public.

Member Size: Currently, the bar is comprised of about 32,000 members.

Staff Size: The executive director, Sebrina Barrett, supervises a staff of 50 employees. Click here to see a Staff Directory

Budget: Approximately $10 million. No tax dollars are used to support Missouri Bar activities. Most money is derived from dues that lawyers pay; some is derived from CLE programs and publications, grants and The Bar Foundation.

Governance: The Board of Governors of The Missouri Bar determines policies and sets the course of action for the state bar to follow. The 45 members of the Board are elected by bar members. The Board elects a president, president-elect and vice president to serve as officers of the bar.

Sections and Committees: The Missouri Bar offers more than 50 substantive law committees for its members to join. It also has two sections: a Family Law Section, and the Young Lawyers' Section.

Location: The Missouri Bar Center is located in Jefferson City, at 326 Monroe St.

Missouri Bar Resources and Activities: The Missouri Bar provides a wide variety of services and resources, not only to its members, but also to the news media, school teachers and the citizens of Missouri. These include: CLE programs and publications, an Annual Meeting, a Solo and Small Firm Conference, teachers’ programs, committee meetings and extensive services for attorneys. The bar also administers a minimum continuing legal education requirement for attorneys.