ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Today, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, State Senator Bob Onder, and State Representative David Gregory announced in a press conference that they would partner on introducing a statute to better address and prosecute violent carjackings in the state of Missouri. The statute would allow prosecutors to charge carjackers with motor vehicle hijacking rather than a broader robbery charge, which will allow for more efficient prosecution, simplified and more detailed statistical tracking, and an increase in uniform sentencing.
In 2018 alone, there were over 300 carjacking incidents in the St. Louis Metro area, according to data obtained from the St. Louis Metro Police Department.
“There’s always more we can do, and should do – especially while Missourians continue to worry about falling victim to violent crime in their own neighborhoods. Grandfathers shouldn’t have to worry about having their cars violently stolen on the streets they’ve lived on for years, and families shouldn’t have to avoid certain parts of town for fear that they’ll be carjacked,” said Schmitt during the press conference.
Schmitt reiterated the importance of the statute in cutting down carjacking rates, stating, “This statute will streamline the prosecuting process, increase uniform sentencing, and lead to more accurate statistics relating to carjackings in the state of Missouri, and I want to thank Senator Onder and Representative Gregory for joining in this incredibly important fight. This is about removing the most violent criminals from Missouri streets. With today’s announcement, we’re sending a clear message to those who seek to harm others: we will bring you to justice.”
Senator Bob Onder echoed Attorney General Schmitt’s seriousness in addressing this issue, stating, “Last year there were over 200 carjackings in St. Louis City alone. This has become a serious crime problem in our state and I look forward to working with Attorney General Schmitt on addressing this crisis.”
Representative David Gregory stated, “Carjackings are an incredibly serious issue for the St. Louis region and the state of Missouri – something needs to be done. I’m grateful to be able to join Attorney General Schmitt and Senator Onder to work towards keeping Missourians safe.”
Under the statute, prosecutors would charge carjackers with motor vehicle hijacking rather than a broader robbery charge. 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 17 or a special victim would elevate the offense to a class A felony.
The statute would also be used in conjunction with charges for Armed Criminal Action in the event a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument is used.
The bottom line is: if you attempt to or successfully commit a carjacking with a gun, you will be going to jail for at least 10 years.
Additionally, finding statistics on carjackings is tough in Missouri as they aren’t uniformly charged or reported, and carjackings isn’t listed as an offense in FBI crime statistics. This statute seeks to improve the reporting of statistics by more uniformly charging and prosecuting carjackings.
With this statute, Missouri would join states like Georgia, Florida, and Illinois in establishing a state statute on carjackings, and Missouri would catch up to federal prosecutors who have added additional resources to tackle carjackings.
Attorney General Schmitt launched his Safer Streets Initiative in St. Louis on January 22nd to fight back against violent crime, and announced the expansion of the initiative to Kansas City and Springfield roughly two weeks ago. With today’s announcement, Attorney General Schmitt continued his proactive approach to protecting Missouri’s six million residents.