Stealing has always been a crime in Missouri, but until this week, people charged with such crimes as stealing more than $500, or stealing items such as a car, credit card, or firearm, had to deal with a felony stealing charge. The enhancement from a misdemeanor stealing charge to a felony charge comes with all sorts of life-altering consequences that go far beyond the scope of this post. The point is, if you stole more than $500, or if you stole certain items that our legislature decided that you should never steal, you’d be facing a felony stealing charge.

This all changed this week with a ruling in the state Supreme Court case of State v. Bazell. We’ve received a few calls about the controversial ruling handed down by the court, and for the purposes of clarifying things, here’s what you should know

  1. Most, but not all, current felony stealing charges should be dropped down to misdemeanors. Without going into too much legalese, the Court in Bazell found a discrepancy between RSMo 570.030.1 (which defines stealing as, essentially, taking something from someone else) and RSMo 570.030.3 (which states that the value of what was stolen is an element of the crime);
  2. This ruling may have an impact on the Statute of Limitations, as the reduction to a misdemeanor reduces the Statute of Limitations (the time in which the State may bring charges against you) down to just 1 year;
  3. This does not mean that ALL felony stealing charges are irrelevant and will be reduced to misdemeanors. Certain felony stealing charges that do not relate back to RSMo 570.030.1, such as 3rd Offense-Stealing, or stealing materials used in the production of meth, will still be brought as felonies;
  4. It may not be too late to set aside your Guilty Plea if you have recently pleaded guilty to Felony Stealing! If you pleaded guilty to this charge, it is critical that you contact an attorney immediately about the possibility of removing this felony conviction from your record, especially since…
  5. This legal loophole WILL END ON DECEMBER 31, 2016. On January 1, 2017, Missouri will implement a brand new Criminal Code that, among other things, will clear up this discrepancy.