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Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Reorganize Missouri’s Criminal Code

Missouri Bar Proposal First Major Changes in More Than 30 Years

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Legislation to reorganize Missouri’s criminal code and make it more transparent to the public was filed last week by State Representative Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, in the Missouri House of Representatives. Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, also is expected to file similar legislation in the Missouri Senate. The proposal is the result of the 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.

“This legislation is a product of a specially appointed Missouri Bar committee that worked for more than four years to draft this proposal,” Cox said. “Having participated in the process and working with prosecutors and defense attorneys with extensive experience, it is clear the revisions proposed in House Bill 210 will be helpful, constructive and important improvements to Missouri’s Criminal Code.”

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 Since its enactment, some statutes have become outdated, new crimes have been defined and some punishments have become inconsistent.

Missouri Bar President Patrick B. Starke said the modernized Criminal Code would be more cohesive and easier to understand, plus make penalties more consistent and just.

“I commend the work of the criminal justice professionals who carefully considered the practical realities of each change,“ Starke said. “And I appreciate Rep. Cox and Sen. Justus for their work heading a special joint interim committee which closely examined this voluminous proposal and their efforts to reintroduce this legislation and advance it this year to vastly improve our state’s criminal justice system.”

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.

Rep. Cox’s bill is House Bill 210. A summary of the Bar’s proposed revisions to the current Criminal Code may be found online at

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

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    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 Supreme Court of Missouri, not a private association nor a state agency. Its mission is to improve the legal profession, the administration of justice and the law on behalf of the public.

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