Missouri lawmaker pushes for tougher penalties for carjackers

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The Missouri Senate’s Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee heard testimony regarding a proposed change to the way authorities can prosecute carjackings.  State Sen. Bob Onder (R-Lake St. Louis) has introduced SB 561 which would create the offense of vehicular hijacking.  The bill has the support of the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and several law enforcement agencies.  They believe current laws leave a gap when it comes to prosecuting carjackings.

“These are violent crimes in which Missourians are terrorized in what should be a safe sanctuary,” said Onder.

He cited one case in St. Louis’s Central West End neighborhood where Onder said the offender was given 120 days shock time.  Onder and the bill’s supporters say carjackings have become nearly a daily occurrence in some communities.  His proposed legislation would make vehicular hijacking a crime with penalties similar to first- and second-degree armed robbery.

SB 561 would also trigger a mandatory certification hearing for any defendant between the ages of 12-18.  The committee chairman said one committee member had expressed concern about that provision of the bill.  No one testified against the bill during Monday’s committee hearing.

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