Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Missouri Appeals Court Rules State Cannot Use Previous Out-State Domestic-Violence Convictions to Increase Jail Time

A three-judge Missouri Court of Appeals (Western District) panel sitting in Kansas City has ruled that the state cannot use previous domestic-violence convictions in other states to support a sentence of life without parole for a Missouri offender. The decision reversed a lower court sentence of life without parole for a defendant who had two Illionois domestic-violence convictions before he killed his girlfriend.

The court reasoned that the plain language of a Missouri statute “defines prior and persistent domestic violence offenders as people who have committed domestic assault offenses. Likewise, the plain language of section 565.063.1(1) limits the definition of domestic assault offense to four different crimes under Missouri law. The statute does not mention any domestic violence crimes from other states, so the legislature is presumed to have intended to limit the definition of domestic assault offense to Missouri crimes. Therefore, the trial court erred in sentencing [[the defendant] as a prior and persistent domestic violence offender to life imprisonment without the possibility of probation or parole.”  News Source:  Joe Lambe, The Kansas City Star, kansascity.com. To read a copy of the news story written about this case, please click here (last visited March 29, 2006, reo)  To read a copy of the slip opinion of this decision, please click here (last visited March 29, 2006, reo).

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/family_law/2006/03/missouri_appeal.html

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