The term “violent crime” refers to many types of criminal actions, such as murder, assault, or armed robbery. Any crime that involves violence against another is serious and may leave the accused with a damaging permanent record. These cases are very complex, with many factors at play when it comes to the type of charge the accused faces.
A violent crime occurs when a perpetrator harms or threatens a victim with violence. Although laws vary from state to state, the punishments for violent crimes are usually more severe than the penalties for non-violent crimes. Even if the victim was not actually injured — for example, in an assault crime that involved the threat of personal injury — the alleged perpetrator might be charged with a violent crime.
Violent crime in Missouri
Missouri law harshly punishes criminal actions that result in harm to others. Many violent crimes are felonies. There are five categories of felonies, from Class A, the most serious offenses, to Class E, the least serious offenses. There are a wide range of penalties, however, prosecutors often seek the maximum penalty when the accused injured or killed the victim. The judge or jury might impose an enhanced sentence if the accused had a prior conviction.
In addition to prison, a felony on your criminal record has many long-term consequences. An ex-felon may have difficulty finding a job, getting housing, or obtaining a mortgage or personal loan. It may affect your right to vote and own a firearm. In some circumstances, it affects child custody arrangements, professional licenses, such as medicine or law, and immigration status.
Common violent crimes include the following:
- Armed robbery
- Domestic violence
- Voluntary manslaughter
Possible penalties resulting from a violent crime conviction
There is a wide range of violent crimes, with a variety of possible penalties. Sentences also differ depending on the circumstances of each individual case.
The law allows for the harshest possible penalties for violent felonies. These may include:
- Restitution. The court may order the perpetrator to compensate the victim for losses suffered as a result of the crime.
- Fines. A conviction for a violent crime also usually means a significant fine, depending on the circumstances of the case.
- Probation. In some cases, the sentence includes probation, instead of or in addition to prison time. Probation is a court-ordered period of supervision over an offender. It typically involves staying out of trouble, regular visits with a probation officer, paying any restitution and fines, and meeting any other conditions the court orders.
- Prison. Incarceration is a common penalty for those convicted of a violent felony. A conviction for a violent crime often results in a lengthy prison sentence — possibly years, decades, or even life in prison. In 2020, Missouri passed a major public safety bill that included longer prison sentences for certain crimes.
- Death. The death penalty is the most severe penalty possible. Missouri allows for capital punishment, although not all states do.
Possible defenses for violent crime charges
It is always important to remember that just because you are charged with a crime does not mean you have been convicted. Your defense attorney can protect your rights and take many steps on your behalf to help you take control of the situation. For example, your attorney may:
- Conduct a detailed investigation of your case
- Consult necessary experts
- Find flaws and contradictions in the evidence presented by the state
- Challenge the admissibility of evidence.
- Conduct skilled cross-examination of witnesses
- Advise you on plea bargain offers from the prosecution
- Use their knowledge of the relevant laws and precedents to defend you and minimize any consequences
There are possible defenses for a violent crime charge, including:
- Acting in self-defense
- Acting in defense of others
- Acting in the heat of passion
- Unintentional reckless actions
- Other viable suspects
How can your defense attorney help?
An arrest can be shocking and frightening, but you don’t have to face the charges alone. If you have been accused of a violent crime or anticipate that you might be accused, you should consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. When you have been charged with a violent crime, your defense lawyer will carefully review the circumstances to determine the most advantageous defense strategies for your case. Your attorney’s goal is to protect your rights, defend you, and reduce the consequences of a criminal charge.