Criminal Code Revision Losing Steam

With the end of the session just weeks away, it appears less likely that the Missouri General Assembly will pass any major revision of the state’s criminal code this year. The bills – HB 210 and SB 253 – are massive bills (almost 600 and 1,100 pages respectively) and each bill has required several sessions in committee to explain the changes and answer questions of lawmakers. While many of the changes are organizational, including adding gender-neutral language, several changes affect the severity of punishments that offenders can receive.

Missouri last revised its criminal code in 1979. Over the last several years the Missouri Bar brought together a special committee of prosecutors and defense attorneys to find ways to update the code to make it more cohesive and suitable to current situations. Their recommendations were reviewed by a special interim committee of legislators last fall and were the basis of HB 210 and SB 253.

Despite this collaboration, the bills have moved slowly through the process. Leadership in both the House and Senate are now indicating that because of their extensive nature, the bills should have time to “breathe” over the summer and gather input from citizens. With leadership losing interest, these bills are likely stalled for the session.

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