Missouri Criminal Sentencing


Information provided on this page is for educational use only. Accessing this page does not give rise to an attorney-client relationship, and the information provided should not be regarded as legal advice. Laws of the State of Missouri are subject to change, and there is no warranty, express or implied, that the information included on this page is still accurate at the time of access. Please consult a licensed Attorney to discuss the specifics of any legal matter. Attorneys at Cline, Braddock & Basinger can be reached at (573) 443-6244

Sentencing Authority

The court's authority for sentencing is found in 557.011 RSMo. Most commonly this includes a fine, a term of imprisonment, or some combination thereof. No Missouri court may impose sentence other than those authorized by statute. The court's authority includes any of the following sentences:

  1. Sentencing the defendant to a term of jail/imprisonment pursuant to Chapter 558 RSMo;
  2. Sentencing the defendant to pay a fine pursuant to Chapter 560 RSMo.;
  3. Suspend imposition of sentence, with or without placing the defendant on probation;
  4. Suspending execution of sentence, and placing the defendant on probation; or
  5. Order a period of shock detention, and place the defendant on probation;

Classification of Felonies and Misdemeanors

Under Missouri law offense are categorized as felonies, misdemeanors, or infractions. The range of punishment for each offense is as follows:

    Felonies:

       Class A 10 to 30 years (or life) in prison fines are not authorized

Class B 5 to 15 years in prison fines are not authorized

Class C 1 to 7 years in prison fines up to $5,000.00

Class D 1 to 4 years in prison fines up to $5,000.00

    Misdemeanors:

      
Class A
Up to 1 year in county jail
fines up to $1,000.00

Class B
Up to 6 months in county jail fines up to $500.00

Class C
Up to 15 days in county jail
fines up to $300.00

    Infractions:

                                                                                 
fines up to $200.00

Some offenses are not denominated by a letter classification. If a Felony is not classified as A, B, C, or D then it carries the same range of punishment as a Class "D" felony, unless a different range is specified in the relevant statute. If a misdemeanor is not classified as A, B, or C then it carries the same range of punishment as a Class "A" misdemeanor, unless a different range is specified in the relevant statute.                                                                         

Sentence Enhancement and Persistent Offenders

Missouri law provides for additional enhanced punishments for defendants who have committed prior felonies, or certain violent/dangerous offenses. Defendant's meeting the following classifications generally are subject to enhanced (lengthened) sentences:

  • Persistent Felony Offender: Has previously been convicted of or pleaded guilty to at least (2) two felonies
  • Dangerous Felony Offender: Has previously been conviction of or pleaded guilty to one (1) class A or B felony or dangerous felony (see below for list of dangerous felonies), and is presently charged with a felony involving murder, endangerment, or threat to the life of another, or knowingly inflicting, attempting, or threatening to inflict serious injury on another
  • The effect of a finding that a defendant is a persistent felony offender, or dangerous felony offender is that such defendant will be subject to the range of punishment one (1) classification higher for any newly charged offense. For example if a prior and persistent offender is charged with a new class "C" felony, such defendant will be subject to the enhanced class "B" range of punishment of 5 to 15 years instead of the standard class "C" range of 1 to 7 years.

     In addition to the standard enhancements stated above, many offenses contain their own enhancement provisions for repeated violations of the same offense. Some common (though not exhaustive) examples include:


    First Offense Third Offense
    Domestic Assault 3rd Degree Class "A" Misdemeanor Class "D" Felony
    DWI Class "B" Misdemeanor Class "D" Felony
    Stealing (less than $500) Class "A" Misdemeanor Class "D" Felony

    Missouri's enhancement statutes are ever changing, and it is crucial to consult with an attorney to determine whether sentence enhancement applies to the facts of a specific case.

    Minimum Terms of Imprisonment

    In addition to sentence length enhancement in the case of certain prior offenders, Missouri law provides for minimum terms for certain defendants. If a minimum term applies the defendant may not be paroled until serving the minimum term in custody.

    Minimum terms of imprisonment apply to defendants who are charged with committing an offense after August 28th, 2003. Unlike sentence enhancement, minimum terms of imprisonment are not based on the prior number of pleas and/or convictions. Instead, minimum terms of imprisonment are applicable when a defendant has had a prior "commitment" to the Missouri Department of Corrections, or is presently charged with a "dangerous felony"

    A prior commitment is a prior sentence which was actually served in the Department of Corrections. Prior commitments do not include convictions which resulted in confinement in the county jail, probation or suspended execution of a prison sentence, 120 shock programs, or long term drug treatment programs.

    A "dangerous felony" is any of the following:

    1. Arson - First Degree
    2. Assault - First Degree
    3. Attempted Forcible Rape (if physical injury)
    4. Attempted Forcible Sodomy (if physical injury)
    5. Forcible Rape
    6. Forcible Sodomy
    7. Kidnapping
    8. Murder - Second Degree
    9. Assault of Law Enforcement Officers - First Degree
    10. Domestic Assault - First Degree
    11. Elder Abuse - First Degree
    12. Robbery - First Degree
    13. Statutory Rape - First Degree (child less than 12)
    14. Statutory Sodomy (child less than 12)
    15. Child Abuse/Kidnapping (detaining child at least 120 days)

    The minimum terms of imprisonment before parole are as follows:

  • 1 Prior Commitment: Must serve minimum of 40% of sentence
  • 2 Prior Commitments: Must serve minimum of 50% of sentence
  • 3 Prior Commitments: Must serve minimum of 80% of sentence
  • Dangerous Felony: Must serve minimum 85% of sentence
  • Sentencing Alternatives

    It is important to consult with an attorney to determine whether you may be eligible for an alternative to imprisonment or fines. Courts often have wide discretion to grant probation in lieu of prison time. Additionally, many courts in Missouri now include rehabilitative programs such as DWI court, drug court, and mental health court. Certain offenders may be eligible for such rehabilitative programs in lieu of a prison sentence. It is crucial to speak early and often with your attorney to determine whether such program is a possibility under the specific facts of your case.

    Attorneys at Cline, Braddock & Basinger are ready to assist you. It is our hope that you find these materials useful. When you are ready contact our offices to schedule a free consultation.


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