St. Louis had more than 300 carjackings reported in 2018 – nearly one every day. Newly-proposed legislation aims to crack down on carjackings statewide.
During Monday’s press conference, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt joined Republican bill sponsors, State Senator Bob Onder of Lake St. Louis and State Representative David Gregory of St. Louis County, to announce a proposal that Schmitt says could put those convicted of a violent carjacking offense behind bars for ten years to life in prison. It is designed to better track carjackings and create harsher penalties. The measure would allow prosecutors to charge carjackers with motor vehicle hijacking rather than a broader robbery charge.
“There’s always more we can do and should do – especially while Missourians continue to worry about falling victim to violent crime in their own neighborhoods. Grandfathers shouldn’t have to worry about having their cars violently stolen on the streets they’ve lived on for years, and families shouldn’t have to avoid certain parts of town for fear that they’ll be carjacked.” said Schmitt.
He said the main issue with prosecuting and reporting carjackings in Missouri is the lack of uniform charge or sentencing. According to Schmitt, some carjacking incidents are charged as robbery first, robbery second or stealing. The legislation could lead to Class A, Class B or Class D felonies.
“This statute will streamline the prosecuting process, increase uniform sentencing, and lead to more accurate statistics relating to carjackings in the state of Missouri. This is about removing the most violent criminals from Missouri streets,” said Schmitt. “With today’s announcement, we’re sending a clear message to those who seek to harm others: we will bring you to justice.”
Under the proposed measure, the baseline classification would a class B felony, but the use of deadly weapons or dangerous instruments and the victim being a child under 17 or a special victim would elevate the offense to a class A felony. It would also be used in conjunction with charges for Armed Criminal Action, in the event a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument is used.
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