Many thefts in Missouri have been prosecuted as felony charges; however, that might not be correct. A change to the law in 2002 that was apparently inadvertent means that some felony thefts should actually be misdemeanors. That fact was recently noted in an opinion by the Missouri Supreme Court.
The court issued a ruling based on an appeal by a woman who was convicted of stealing firearms and other items. The felonies that are related to the firearms should be considered misdemeanors, according to the court. The state’s criminal code is what determines how criminal acts should be charged. The court noted that that part of the code is written in a way that makes it inapplicable to the definition of stealing.
This ruling is very interesting because it could mean that people who have been convicted of felonies based on thefts, as well as those who have charges pending, might be able to get those charges reclassified as misdemeanors. One important note is that this will only be applicable to cases involving a crime after 2002 when the new amended language to the criminal code was added.
People who have already been convicted might have to file a state habeas corpus action. Those who have already appealed will likely be able to use this ruling in their case. In some cases, this could also call the one-year statute of limitations on misdemeanor cases into play.
If you are facing theft charges or if you have been convicted of a theft charge since 2002, you should learn if this ruling applies to your case. That is the first step in possibly being able to use this ruling in your favor.
Source: Talking Points Memo, “Oops! Most Stealing No Longer A Felony In Missouri Because Of Sloppy Wording,” Tierny Sneed, Aug. 24, 2016