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:
- Sentencing the defendant to a term of jail/imprisonment pursuant to Chapter 558 RSMo;
- Sentencing the defendant to pay a fine pursuant to Chapter 560 RSMo.;
- Suspend imposition of sentence, with or without placing the defendant on probation;
- Suspending execution of sentence, and placing the defendant on probation; or
- 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:
|Class A:||10 to 30 years||| fines are not authorized|
|Class B:||5 to 15 years||| fines are not authorized|
|Class C:||3 to 10 years||| fines up to $10,000.00|
|Class D:||1 to 7 years||| fines up to $10,000.00|
|Class E:||1 to 4 years||| fines up to $10,000.00|
|Class A:||Up to 1 year||| fines up to $2,000.00|
|Class B:||Up to 6 months||| fines up to $1,000.00|
|Class C:||Up to 15 days||| fines up to $750.00|
|Class D:||N/A||| fines up to $500|
Infractions: fines up to $400.00
Some offenses are not denominated by a letter classification. If a Felony is not classified as A, B, C, D, or E then its sentencing range is specified in the relevant statute. If a misdemeanor is not classified as A, B, C, or D 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: Is being sentenced for a felony during the commission of which he knowingly murdered or endangered or threatened the life of another person or knowingly inflicted or attempted or threatened to inflict serious physical injury on another person; and has been found guilty of a class A or B felony or a dangerous felony.
A “dangerous felony” is any of the following:
- Abuse of a Child if child dies
- Arson – First Degree
- Assault – First Degree
- Assault – Second Degree (if special victim)
- Assault of Law Enforcement Officers – First Degree
- Attempted Forcible Rape (if physical injury)
- Attempted Forcible Sodomy (if physical injury)
- Child Abuse/Kidnapping (detaining child at least 120 days)
- Child Molestation – First Degree or Second Degree
- Domestic Assault – First Degree
- DWI Habitual Offender
- Elder Abuse – First Degree
- Forcible Rape
- Forcible Sodomy
- Murder – Second Degree
- Robbery – First Degree
- Statutory Rape – First Degree (child less than 12)
- Statutory Sodomy (child less than 12)
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 3 to 10 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 “E” Felony|
|DWI||Class “B” Misdemeanor||Class “E” Felony|
|Stealing (less than $500)||Class “A” Misdemeanor||Class “E” 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.
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.
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
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.
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