Juveniles would need a hearing to be charged as adults under new Senate Bill

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JEFFERSON CITY - A new Missouri Senate bill would require judges to have hearings to certify whether or not to charge a minor as an adult in gun-related crimes.

The Missouri Senate Judiciary Committee discussed SB 824 Monday in a hearing and heard testimony from people on both sides of the bill.

Currently, juveniles can be charged as adults in felony cases, but now a judge would have to hold a special hearing to decide whether or not to certify offenders as adults.

Committee chairman Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer said this bill fits into their larger picture of preventing gun-related crimes by going after violent offenders.

"The appropriate way to crack down on gun related crime is to crack down on the small percent of the population using guns to commit violent acts, not to infringe upon the second amendment rights of the overwhelming majority of law-abiding citizens," Luetkemeyer said. 

The majority of people testifying in Monday's hearing stood in support of the bill, but there was a vocal minority of people who disagreed.

Mo Del Villar, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, was one of the people who testified against the bill. She said charging more minors as adults isn't the way forward.

"Bills like this that could potentially lead to a widening of the school to prison pipeline, getting individuals involved with the criminal justice system so early on is just not conducive to reducing crime in the state," she said.

The bill will now be voted on by the committee before the Missouri Senate is able to pass the bill.