JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A new, wide-ranging bill signed into law in Missouri creates a new criminal offense and makes changes to the punishment of violent crimes in the state.
Governor Mike Parson signed Senate Bill 600 into law Monday. The new law will create the offense of vehicle hijacking, the first offense on the books in the state specifically for carjacking. Previously, carjackings would be charged as robbery or stealing, which resulted in difficulty tracking the crime.
The new offense will be a Class A felony and will be classified as a "dangerous felony."
Senate Bill 600 will also add armed criminal action and conspiracy to commit a dangerous felony to the list of dangerous felonies in the state.
"This legislation is a large step towards safety and justice for our communities," Gov. Parson said in a press conference Monday. "However, there is a lot more to be done. These tools are just the beginning of the work that needs to be done to fight violent criminals. We will continue working together to identify solutions, address crime, especially violent crime, and to keep Missourians safe.
The bill also changes sentencing laws to require prison time for people convicted of dangerous felonies.
In addition to the newly classified crimes. Missouri classifies the following as dangerous felonies:
- Abuse of a Child if child dies
- Arson – First Degree
- Assault – First Degree
- Assault – Second Degree (if special victim)
- Assault of Law Enforcement Officers – First Degree
- Attempted Forcible Rape (if physical injury)
- Attempted Forcible Sodomy (if physical injury)
- Child Abuse/Kidnapping (detaining child at least 120 days)
- Child Molestation – First Degree or Second Degree
- Domestic Assault – First Degree
- DWI Habitual Offender
- Elder Abuse – First Degree
- Forcible Rape
- Forcible Sodomy
- Murder – Second Degree
- Robbery – First Degree
- Statutory Rape – First Degree (child less than 12)
- Statutory Sodomy (child less than 12)
The law also adds new punishment for crimes deemed to be part of criminal street gang activity. The new law would lower the threshold for classifying a crime as gang activity and increase the punishment.
Previously, prosecutors would need to prove that the main motivating factor for the crime was gang-related. Under the new law, prosecutors would only need to prove that gang affiliation was one of the motivating factors for a crime.
People found guilty of gang-related crimes will be sentenced to at least two more years in prison. If the crime is a dangerous felony, the prison sentence will be increased by five years.
The law will take effect on Aug. 28. Read the full bill here.