Saturday, December 31, 2016

Lee's Summit Republican explains effect of new law on school fighting charges

(From Rep Mike Cierpiot, R-Lee's Summit)

Before the beginning of a new session starting next week, I wanted to provide clarification on some issues regarding the new changes to Missouri’s criminal code. 

 As many are aware, come January 1 a comprehensive rewrite of Missouri’s criminal code will take effect. This overhaul is long overdue since there has not been a complete revision of Missouri’s criminal code since the late 1970s. 

 Though the rewrite mostly provides cleanup language and clarification to Missouri’s criminal code, the changes also provides Missouri prosecutors with modern sentencing options. One of the changes that will go into effect is a clarifications on the use of a felony charge for students who get into a fight on school property.

Under existing laws, it is a felony to knowingly cause physical injury on school property. The new revised criminal codes narrows the instances in which assaults will be considered felonies. 

 A few school districts around the state have interpreted these changes to mean harsher penalties for students who could now be charged with felonies for getting into a fight in school. However, the new revised criminal code adds another type of assault, so what was considered an automatic felony could now be considered a misdemeanor. 

 In practice the new revised criminal code should result in fewer felony charges for students. As today, judgement will be involved from school districts.

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