"Carjacking specific" bill would increase penalties in Missouri

Penalties would increase for carjacking with or without a weapon

Alex Degman
February 19, 2020 - 8:32 pm

JEFFERSON CITY (KMOX/AP) -- Missouri lawmakers are trying to give prosecutors more options for charging people for carjackings.

Prosecutors now charge people with robbery or other related crimes. The House bill would create a specific carjacking law, making carjacking a felony punishable by five to 15 years in prison.

"It's very clear there is a rapid escalation of carjackings going on in the state of Missouri, last year it was on the rise this year it's even greater... on the rise, and it has to be stopped," said State Rep. David Gregory of St. Louis County, the measure's sponsor during floor debate.

The crime would be punishable by 10 to 30 years or life in prison if the carjacker causes serious injury, is armed with a real or fake weapon, or takes a vehicle with a child in it.

State Rep. Shamed Dogan of Ballwin, however, isn't sure about the measure -- he questions whether a fake weapon is worthy of a life sentence.

"There are people incarcerated right now who robbed banks with a BB gun, which could not actually hurt anyone, and didn't intend to hurt anyone," Dogan said. "But those people right now, under our robbery statute, are lumped in with the folks who actually have a weapon, who actually harm someone, who shoots someone, and that just doesn't make plain common sense."

On the other side, people in favor of the same sentence for real or fake weapons argue the emotional distress and trauma caused by what looks like a real gun is the same as if it were an actual gun.

The measure needs one more affirmative vote to pass through the House, then it's onto the Senate.

KMOX Jefferson City correspondent Phill Brooks provided this report, the Associated Press contributed. Additional editing by Alex Degman.

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