Three Strikes - What Does This Mean in Missouri?

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Three strikes laws typically apply to habitual offenders who commit serious felony crimes. Three-strikes and similar laws exist in a little over half of the states in the U.S., including Missouri.

Offenders who are convicted of the most serious crimes may be given a strike; these offenses include kidnapping, robbery, murder, burglary, arson, the majority of sex crimes, and those crimes in which someone suffered great bodily harm or a weapon was used in the commission of the crime. However, itís important to note that you do not have to commit a serious felony offense in Missouri to
find yourself facing a potentially life-changing legal battle.

What does this mean for offenders in Kansas City or throughout Missouri?

Ultimately, an individual who has been convicted of less serious misdemeanor charges may find him- or herself facing a felony charge, which results in punishment that's more severe along with other sanctions. While some states refer to the term "three strikes," Missouri refers to individuals who have been convicted of two prior serious criminal offenses as "prior and persistent offenders."

Three strikes laws or habitual offender laws are designed to keep those individuals who are considered more likely to commit crimes repeatedly behind bars for a longer period of time by imposing harsher sentences. Essentially, a "prior and persistent" offender may face a significantly longer prison sentence when compared to a person who commits the same crime for the first time.

We mentioned earlier that an offender in Missouri who commits a misdemeanor crime may be charged with a felony if that person is considered a habitual offender. An example of this would be someone who has been previously convicted on two occasions for driving under the influence; if this individual is charged with DUI a fourth time, it may be charged as a felony. Felony offenses leave those found guilty facing punishment that is substantially harsher than that for misdemeanor convictions. In this case, the offender may be sentenced to years behind bars and lose certain rights including the right to vote or possess/own a firearm. Fines, loss of driving privilege, and a criminal record are other consequences.

Regardless of the situation, if you are considered a prior and persistent offender and are facing felony criminal charges it is imperative to work with a skilled Kansas City criminal defense attorney who will develop a solid defense, explore all legal options and protect your legal rights.

AUTHOR: Joel McLaughlin

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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