House Committee Advances Bill to Reorganize Missouri’s Criminal Code

Senate Panel Expected to Advance Similar Measure Today 

Feb. 3, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – The Missouri House Judiciary Committee advanced legislation last week to reorganize Missouri’s criminal code making it more transparent to the public. The measure, House Bill 1371, 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.

HB1371 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 Jack Brady, of Kansas City, testified at the committee’s hearing on the bill and said the reorganization is needed.

“Organizing and updating the Code will allow the criminal justice system to be more efficient and work better for the people of Missouri,” Brady said. “We appreciate the committee’s swift action to advance the bill and are thankful for the time committee members have devoted to carefully examining this extensive legislation over the past year.”  

Similar legislation, Senate Bill 491, was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, and has been heard by the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. The committee could vote on the Senate version as early as today.

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 Since its enactment, some statutes have become outdated, new crimes have been defined and some punishments have become inconsistent.

Brady noted the measures include the reclassification of both felony and misdemeanor offenses in which a fifth felony class and a fourth misdemeanor class would be created. The subcommittee agreed the new penalty scales would allow for punishment to better correspond with the nature of the crime. The proposal also would increase fine amounts that have not been adjusted since the Code was enacted.

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.

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