Important Information About Registered Sex Offender Laws in Missouri

sex offender law Springfield, MO

Given the severity and nature of this type of crime committed, there are serious penalties for Missouri's sex offender laws. As with many other states, Missouri sex offender laws originated in the 1980s but were updated recently in response to criminal reform efforts. Due to this, people need to be aware of the changes and what it can mean when these cases go to court.

The Old Law

Under its previous law, Missouri was one of the harsher states, treating all individuals charged with a sex offense equal to the punishments of other states’ most stringent penalties.  Missouri was one of the 17 states that required lifelong registration on the sex offender database, regardless of the crime that required registration.  In addition to this lifelong registration, Missouri required sex offenders to check-in every 90 days on the lifetime registry. Along with that, the state enforced restrictions on where sex offenders could live and strictly limited the possibility of removal from the registry.

The New Law

The updated law, originally proposed by Senate Bill 655, introduced tiers which, in theory, better classifies crimes into three different categories to reflect the severity of the crime.  For example, some states revised their sex offender statutes to no longer include public urination as a sex offense. Many other states reduced the severity of the crime.  Missouri mimics this trend by categorizing public urination as a lower crime than statutory rape or possession of child pornography, a distinction which most Missourians would likely agree.

Tier I deals with the least severe crimes, increasing in severity to Tier III, which is the most egregious crimes.  This new law also eases the 90-day check-in requirement, allowing Tier I offenders to check-in annually, and Tier II offenders to check in bi-annually.  Finally, this new law allows greater opportunity for removal from Missouri’s sex offender registry. The increased opportunity provides Tier I offenders the possibility of submitting a petitioner for removal from the registry after 10 years (if they have a squeaky-clean record), and 25 years for Tier II offenders.  For the most severe Tier III offenders, the 90-day check-in requirement still exists with no opportunity for removal from the registry.

Child Pornography

Under Missouri sex offender law, any nude or sexually explicit picture of a minor under the age of 18 constitutes child pornography.  Given the near-ubiquity of cell phones and online flirting and dating, sending and receiving sexually explicit photographs in an electronic form can constitute child pornography. These actions can have serious unintended consequences for teenagers who may not be intending to violate the law. 

In fact, according to Mo. Rev. Stat. § 573.037, possession of one still image of child pornography by merely receiving a text message can constitute a Class D felony offense.  However, this offense can be elevated to a Class B felony if it is a moving image or motion picture.  Missouri statutes like this one can quickly put older teenagers at risk for communicating with younger teenagers. Just the nature of being older in high school but the same grade at school, dating at the same school, and more.  Considering the severity of the punishments available, people in Missouri must be knowledgeable about such issues to avoid potentially permanent, or at least long-lasting consequences.   

Call (417) 865-2181 to schedule a consultation with Dean Price Law in our Springfield office.

NOTE: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice

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