St. Louis, MO (KTRS) Lawmakers are taking steps to combat carjackings in Missouri.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt joined other lawmakers during a Monday press conference to announce a measure to better track carjackings and create harsher penalties. The statute was introduced that would allow prosecutors to charge carjackers with motor vehicle hijacking rather than a broader robbery charge, which will allow for more efficient prosecution, simplified and more detailed statistical tracking, and an increase in uniform sentencing.
“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..
Schmitt added, “This statute will streamline the prosecuting process, increase uniform sentencing, and lead to more accurate statistics relating to carjackings in the state of Missouri, and I want to thank Senator Onder and Representative Gregory for joining in this incredibly important fight. This is about removing the most violent criminals from Missouri streets. 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 statute, prosecutors would charge carjackers with motor vehicle hijacking rather than a broader robbery charge. The main issue with prosecuting and reporting carjackings in Missouri is the lack of uniform charge or sentencing. Some carjacking incidents are charged as robbery first, robbery second or stealing. This can lead to Class A, Class B or Class D felonies.
With a carjacking statute, the baseline classification is a class B felony, but the use of deadly weapons or dangerous instruments as well as the victim being a child under 17 or a special victim would elevate the offense to a class A felony.
The statute would also be used in conjunction with charges for Armed Criminal Action in the event a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument is used.
The statute is sponsored by State Senator Bob Onder and State Representative David Gregory.
According to the St. Louis Police Department, there were more than 300 carjackings in the city last year.