Increasing Penalties For Violent Crime – State Senator Dan Hegeman

This year, lawmakers passed a measure that takes a serious look at violent crime in our state. Senate Bill 600 is a multi-faceted approach to fighting crime in Missouri. Toward the end of last year, a task force was put together, with the job of listening to law enforcement officials and those who have been directly affected by dangerous crimes over the years. Members of this panel then took their findings and worked on legislation that would best-suit this crisis and find ways to curb these heinous crimes from occurring in our state.

Among the changes SB 600 seeks to make is adding armed criminal action and carjacking to the list of dangerous felonies in Missouri. From my perspective, carjacking has been on the rise in certain parts of the country for the past few years. This is the act of literally stealing someone’s vehicle while the vehicle is either running or being driven. In my opinion, using a weapon while committing this type of crime should add to the punishment, as should child endangerment or kidnapping. These are very serious crimes, and I believe this change to state law will provide prosecutors and law enforcement with the tools they need to put these criminals behind bars.

Senate Bill 600 also establishes the “Missouri Criminal Street Gangs Prevention Act.” The definition of “pattern of criminal street gang activity” would be changed to include “dangerous felony” as one of the offenses that would constitute such a pattern. Over the years, it appears gangs have moved from the largest cities to smaller cities to smaller towns. I believe the language include in this act will strengthen existing laws regarding criminal gangs and provide prosecutors greater flexibility in charging individuals engaged in organized crime.

I am glad this governor signed this legislation into law. In my opinion, we must do everything we can to give law enforcement the tools they need to keep our communities safe. I believe this legislation takes several steps toward making our state a safer place to live, work and raise a family.

As always, please feel free to call, email or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is dan.hegeman@senate.mo.gov and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.