ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOV.com) – Missouri voters will have an opportunity to change the state’s constitution that may change the way authorities prosecute those accused of sex crimes against a minor.
If voters approve Amendment 2, it would allow prosecutors to present evidence of past criminal acts or past accusations against someone who allegedly committed sex crimes against someone younger than 18. Currently, Missouri does not allow such evidence to be shown.
“Any evidence of prior criminal activity is inadmissible based on our constitution,” said St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar.
Legislators have previously tried to change it with new laws but the Supreme Court deemed those laws to be unconstitutional. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is opposed to Amendment 2, and said the Supreme Court has made clear that a person can only be tried only on the crime they are charged with.
“I think we should have the ability to protect our children and believe what they say until things are proven differently. I think if those things are brought back up in court, people have the right to know if this is something that’s been in someone’s past,” said voter Chris Mueller.
One practicing attorney told News 4 he will vote in favor of Amendment 2 but understands why some are opposed to it.
“I can see both sides and I really wouldn’t criticize somebody for voting no,” said attorney Richard Veit. “Changing the constitution is a huge issue and some people just think that we shouldn’t change it on a whim.”
Many prosecutors around Missouri support Amendment 2. Lohmar told News 4 the checks would be in place to make sure the rights of the accused are preserved.
“There are safeguards in place. Language is very clear that a judge would have to independently review proposed evidence before a jury would see that,” Lohmar said. “It is a safeguard to make sure some flimsy allegation isn’t used in a criminal case against a defendant.”
Lohmar said it is not uncommon for other victims to come forward once a sex offender is charged.