The effort to rewrite Missouri’s criminal law system involves trying to make punishments fit the crimes, an effort that could lead to a new system of punishment that is as simple as ABC. And D. And E.
There are four kinds of felonies now. The least serious is a class D, with a sentence of one to four years in prison; Class C is one to seven years; Class B is five to fifteen and Class A is ten to thirty, or life.
The co-chairman of the Missouri Bar’s committee that has helped draft a rewrite of Missouri’s criminal laws, Jason Lamb, thinks a new class needs to be added. He points to the present system that classifies forgery in the same felony category as an involuntary manslaughter. “Same punishment for a dead body as for a forgery,” he observes. The new category would end that problem.
He says the new category would give prosecutors and defense lawyers more negotiating space and would give juries more alternatives.
A senate committee is getting briefings on the thousand-page rewrite. But time is not in favor of passage this year.