Earlier this month, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed House Bill 505 into
law, a measure that revises the laws regarding child abuse and neglect.
According to Governor Nixon, the bill is essential to closing loopholes
in Missouri law that relate to the mandatory reporting of child abuse.
It is also designed to speed up the reporting process of any sexual assault
or abuse against a child.
Although the new bill offers several revisions to Missouri's law, some
of the most significant changes revolve around the ways in which sexual
abuse is reported by those who are legally required to report abuse, including
teachers and employees in schools. Mandatory reporters who suspect any
abuse or neglect must now report directly to Social Services within 24
hours of receiving the information. Social Services will then have two
days to begin an investigation.
HB 505 was created and supported by a bipartisan task force that sifted
through current policies and sexual abuse reporting requirements for individuals
who are legally mandated to report abuse. Under the old laws and system,
abuse reports would have to climb a chain of command in order to have
actions taken. By eliminating the complications that arise throughout
this time-consuming process, abuse reports will be made to and handled
directly by the Children's Division of the Department of Social Services.
What's interesting to note is that this law actually takes quite serious
steps in the fight against child abuse and sex crimes. Most significantly,
the new law makes not reporting abuse or neglect a crime. Mandatory reporters
who do not come forward once they have received information of sexual
assault, abuse, or neglect can face misdemeanor charges and possible terms
of imprisonment for as long as one year, depending on the situation at
hand. Most law enforcement officers and teachers throughout the state
already believe that they are doing a good job at reporting abuse and neglect.
Harsh Treatment of Individuals Charged with Sex Crimes
HB 505 is yet another step forward in the battle against sexual abuse against
children. Throughout the years, and still today,
sexual abuse in schools, institutions, and other public settings have become a heated
topic in law and the media. In order to combat these offenses, law enforcement
agencies and advocacy organizations throughout the nation have pushed
for a number of legislative changes and have taken a tough stance against
sex offenders. Now, more than ever, individuals charged with
sex crimes – especially those involving children – face some of the harshest
social stigmas, aggressive prosecutions, and most devastating criminal
Sex crime allegations are among the most serious types of criminal charges
one can face. They create long-term and life-altering repercussions, many
of which are created by the negative connotations sex crimes have among
the general public. Individuals convicted of sex crimes can face hefty
fines and long terms of imprisonment, although these terms can vary depending
on the nature of the allegation. The societal impact and collateral repercussions
of a sex crime conviction, however, are perhaps the most devastating.
In many ways, having a sex crime allegation on one's criminal record
and having to register as a convicted sex offender can create profound
burdens and limitations in one's life.
If you, a loved one, or someone you care about is currently facing allegations
for any type of sex crime, please understand that you face harsh judgment
and vigorous prosecution, regardless of how these charges arose and regardless
of their validity. Law enforcement agencies and court systems take these
types of cases extremely serious, and in many instances, your future well-being
and life may very well be on the line. As highlighted by the passing of
this new law, the trends make it clear that there is little leniency or
tolerance offered to those accused of sex offenses. As such, you should
take the steps needed to work with experienced, supportive Missouri sex
crime lawyers who are capable of protecting your rights, guiding you through
the legal process, and fighting aggressively on your behalf.
With more than 30 years of combined experience, our firm's legal team
is equipped with the tools and resources to handle even the most serious
cases and allegations. As our attorneys are also former prosecutors who
know how the other side thinks, you can be confident that when you choose
to work with our team, capable legal minds will be in your corner.
Contact a St. Louis sex crime attorney from The Hammer Law Firm, LLC to learn more about your case.