Laws are in many ways a representation of the people and communities who shape them. Over the years and throughout the country, we have seen that laws are constantly changing and being updated to reflect the views of the public to whom they apply, and to ensure that they are aligned with what society deems fair and just. This is especially true of criminal laws, where changing views and trends continually redefine what we consider crimes and fitting punishment.
On the first of this year, 2017, a revision to the Missouri criminal code took effect. The sweeping 1,000 reworking of Missouri criminal laws were long overdue. They have also resulted in some notable changes that local residents and individuals charged with crimes should be aware of.
Here are some notable changes to Missouri law now in effect:
- Possession of Marijuana – Following suit with many other states across the nation, Missouri has not loosened laws on the personal possession of marijuana. Now, possessing 10 grams or less of marijuana is a Class D misdemeanor, rather than a Class A misdemeanor, and is punishable by up to $500 in fines and no jail time whatsoever. Keep in mind that you can still face Class A misdemeanor charges if you have a prior marijuana or drug offense, or if you have between 10 and 35 grams of pot (any amount over 35 grams is a felony). You may still also be arrested for DUI/DWI if an officer believes you are impaired by marijuana behind the wheel, although there is much debate as to how one can precisely determine if a person is too high drive.
- Felony Classes and Penalties – The revised code contains a revision that adds a new felony class where offenders face a more stair-stepped approach to penalties based on the nature of their offense. Class A felonies (10 – 30 year sentences) and Class B felonies (5 – 15 years) were not amended, but Class C felonies were revised to impose 3 – 10 year sentences. Punishment for Class D felonies were revised to what used to be those imposed by Class C felonies – 1 year in county jail, up to 7 years in prison, a $500 fine, or a combination of either. A new Class E Felony was added, and it carries up to a 4 year sentence.
- Felony Assault – There are now four degrees of assault that provide prosecutors with greater discretion when charging offenders with felonies. The expansion of assault laws now expose accused individuals to the possibility of harsher penalties, including those charged with assaults that have special enhancements for assaulting certain victims or having prior assault convictions.
- DWI Penalties – Under new Missouri law, individuals considered habitual DWI offenders must now serve 85% of their prison sentences. Drivers convicted of DWI resulting in death will also face tougher penalties, including an increase to up to 10 years in prison. The changes also now allow certain motorists with suspended licenses to have the opportunity to petition the court to use company vehicles without having to install ignition interlock devices.
These are only a few of the changes that come with Missouri’s new revised criminal code. At The Hammer Law Firm, LLC, our criminal defense attorneys have become acquainted with the new laws so that we can provide the best possible representation to our clients. Although certain laws may be different, we remain steadfast in our commitment to fight for our clients and to fight against the charges and penalties they face.
If you have questions following a criminal arrest in St. Louis or anywhere in the state of Missouri, contact our firm for a FREE consultation.