A Brief Guide to Missouri Criminal Law & Legal Issues

Missouri criminal law is the body of legal codes establishing what is considered a crime and what the procedures and penalties are if someone is accused of committing a crime in the state of Missouri. 

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Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney

August 21. 2021.

Missouri Criminal Law Statutes


Criminal law is a system of laws that determine the punishment of the individual that commits a crime. Missouri’s criminal laws include crimes such as sexual assault, robbery, battery, and different types of homicide. The newest Missouri law also classifies those convicted of DWI or drug possession as dangerous felons. 


Seek Legal Advice Regarding Missouri State Statutes On Criminal Law

If you’re facing a criminal trial, you need to get legal advice from a Missouri criminal defense attorney. An arrest or a conviction can turn your life upside down, but a criminal defense lawyer will protect your legal rights and will closely study the charges against you. Depending on your legal issues, our Kansas City attorneys will develop a strategy to prove your innocence or resolve the charges you are facing. 

Types of Crimes In Missouri


A crime occurs whenever a person breaks the law and commits an illegal act. If you or a family member is accused of a crime in Missouri, you first need to know more about your offense and the consequences it involves. 

When the police believe that a crime has been committed, they may arrest the person. The next steps depend on the severity and nature of the crime allegedly committed by the suspect.


Theft Related Crimes

Under Missouri’s criminal laws, stealing might be punished with fines or time in jail. Depending on the class type of misdemeanor or felony, the penalties can start from $500 and reach up to $10,000. The liability for a class A felony is 10 to 30 years incarceration or life imprisonment.


Driving and Alcohol-Related Crimes

It is illegal in every state of the United States to drive intoxicated. If found guilty of DUI or a DWI crime, your driver’s license may be suspended and you may face fines of $500 or time in jail or prison.


Marijuana or Any Drug Possession and Sale

Missouri was known as the methamphetamine capital of the nation until around 2014 and was also ranked ninth in the country for violent crime rates in 2015. Under Missouri law, possessing drugs without a medical prescription is a class C felony and includes fines of $5,000 and up to seven years in prison. Other drug crimes include the illegal trafficking, sale, or manufacture of controlled substances. 

Felonies may be penalized with anything from a year in prison to the death penalty for the most severe cases. On the other hand, infractions are crimes, too, but do not constitute a criminal offense. For additional information about criminal laws in Missouri, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at 816-281-0941.

Missouri’s Criminal Laws: Prosecutor & Trial Judge


After the police have enough information about a crime, they will give further details to a prosecutor. A prosecutor is a lawyer who represents the government. After reviewing the Missouri Criminal Code, they will decide whether to charge a person with a crime. A prosecutor will also determine the seriousness of a crime. 

After a person is charged with a crime in Missouri, a judge will consider if the defendant represents a threat to the community. The judge will also ask the defendant if they are guilty or innocent. 

Known as a plea of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’, the plea a person and their lawyer choose can lead the case to trial. In a jury trial, a group of twelve people will look at the evidence and decide if the person is found guilty or not. 

FAQ: Criminal Law In Missouri


Criminal law is a complex and multifaceted area of the legal system, so it’s only natural to have questions. Below, we answer a few common questions from criminal defendants in Missouri.


What are the four types of crimes?

Crimes can typically be categorized as felonies, misdemeanors, inchoate offenses, and strict liability offenses. The specifics of the categories depend on the laws of each U.S. state.


What are the penalties for my criminal charge in Missouri? 

This depends on a wide range of factors. To determine the possible penalties for your criminal charge, it is advised to contact a criminal lawyer for legal advice and see if you have any chances of defeating your criminal charges.


What do police officers do in a criminal case?

Although many think that police officers decide who gets charged, they are only responsible for investigating the crimes, gathering evidence, and testifying in court. 


What are the three characteristics of criminal law?

Every crime has at least three characteristics: a criminal act, a criminal intent, and a concurrence of the two. Each of these factors will go into building your defense.

Missouri Criminal Code Handbook


All Missouri law enforcement academies are required to read and teach the Missouri Criminal Code Handbook. The handbook covers both relevant laws and scenarios that police officers may encounter on their job. However, it does not contain every law passed by the Missouri legislature, and it does take time for new laws to be published in the handbook.

With this in mind, errors can and do happen when Missouri law enforcement officers arrest individuals suspected of crimes. When this happens to you, it is crucial that you are aware of your legal rights, and the best way to determine if your rights are violated is to reach out to a MO criminal defense attorney.


Learn More About the Missouri Criminal Codes With the Help of a Missouri Criminal Defense Attorney


If you or someone you love has been accused of violating Missouri’s criminal codes, don’t fret — you do have legal options. With the help of our skilled team of attorneys, you may be able to reduce your charges or dismiss them altogether. No matter what course of action you and your lawyer choose, you can rest assured that you have a dedicated legal advocate on your side, standing up for your rights at every turn.

Visit the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center site and schedule your free consultation. Finding a criminal defense attorney has never been easier; get in touch with us today at 816-281-0941, or visit our website for any legal issue.

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