Carjackings came to the forefront in the news in Missouri the past week when Attorney General Eric Schmitt and two state lawmakers proposed a law that will deal with this crime more directly and sternly. We think it is needed.
The proposed law would permit prosecutors to charge suspects in carjacking with motor vehicle hijacking rather than a broader robbery charge, which would allow for more efficient prosecution and more detailed statistical tracking, and an increase in uniform sentencing, according to the attorney general and his supporters in the General Assembly.
Last year there were more than 300 carjackings in the St. Louis Metro area, including over 200 in the city of St. Louis. They are on the increase. Often drugs are involved.
We have had a few incidents of carjacking in Franklin County. They have been rare. However, crime has a way of moving out of St. Louis to our county. We probably will see more crime incidents of that type in the future.
The state officials said the main issue with prosecuting and reporting carjackings in Missouri is the lack of uniform charge or sentencing. Some carjacking incidents are charged as robbery first, robbery second or stealing. This can lead to Class A, Class B or Class D felonies.
With a carjacking statute, the baseline classification is a Class B felony, but the use of deadly weapons or dangerous instruments, as well as the victim being a child under age 17 or a special victim, would elevate the offense to a Class A felony. The statute also would be used in conjunction with charges for Armed Criminal Action in the event a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument is used.
The attorney general said the bottom line is if you attempt to or successfully commit a carjacking with a gun, you would be going to jail for at least 10 years.
Statistics on carjacking in the state are difficult to determine as they aren’t uniformly charged or reported, and carjacking isn’t listed as an offense in FBI crime statistics. The statute objective would be to improve reporting of statistics with uniform charging and prosecuting carjackings.
The attorney general explained with the proposed statute Missouri would join other states in establishing a state statute on carjacking, and the state would catch up with federal prosecutors who have added more resources to handle carjacking.
It wasn’t too long ago that carjacking was not common. It happened, but not that often.
Time brings changes and we have to add laws to deal specifically with certain crimes. The goal is tough punishment, which may deter certain crimes. But when people are under the influence of drugs, it’s a different story. They are apt to do anything to get money to buy drugs.
Yeah, we know some people will say we have enough laws on the books, but times change, types of crimes also change, calling for additional statutes to more adequately deal with specific criminal activities.