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The New Missouri Criminal Code

In May of 2014, the Missouri Legislature passed a bill completely revising the Missouri criminal code.

Though there have been many amendments to the existing criminal code over the years, the new bill marks the first comprehensive revision of the code since 1979 .

According to the summary of the bill on the Senate’s website, the new criminal code makes several departures from the previous code. Among the changes, the new code adds a new “Class E Felony” and “Class D Misdemeanor” classification and alters the terms of imprisonment and the limits of fines for the felony classifications. Among other changes, the new code also includes: a modified definition of “dangerous felonies,” enhanced penalties for assaults on newly defined “special victims,” and modifications to various sexual offenses.

Though Governor Jay Nixon did not veto the bill he chose not to sign it either. Rather the bill became law without action by the governor fifteen days after delivery to his office. In a press release issued after passage of the bill, Nixon’s office expressed concerns with potential flaws given the scope and complexity of the changes (the bill [pdf], in the form available on the Senate’s website, is 645 pages long).

In addition, legislators preemptively offered that there would be additional bills passed to amend any errors that come to light prior to the effective date of the bill. Although the Missouri Constitution gives a standard period of 90 days from the end of the session in which a bill is passed until the law takes effect, it also allows an effective date to be specified. In the case of the new criminal code the effective date has been set for January 1, 2017 to allow additional review and amendment.

Further information regarding the bills passed in the recently completed Missouri legislative sessions can be found on the sites of the Missouri Senate and Missouri House of Representatives.


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