Revisions to Missouri Law Reflect Crack Down on Child Abuse, Sex Crimes
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 penalties.
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.