Interviewer: How public does a theft charge become? Does work find out easily? If someone ends up having a theft charge, do family and friends find out?
Kevin Roach: Typically theft charges, misdemeanor charges are usually a lot harder to find. If you're in St. Louis there's over 90 municipal courts in the St. Louis area, and if you're lucky enough to be in a municipal court, that's a lot less accessible to employers. It's not typically in Case.net which is the Missouri online database which anybody can access so it's usually pretty hard to find.
Information of Felony Theft Charges is Usually Available on Case.net
If you're charged with a felony, stealing over 500, usually that's a lot easier for employers to find. A lot of times it's on Case.net and it's not just in a municipality, a lot of these small municipalities it's really hard for them to find but in state court it's a lot easier. Any time you're charged with stealing and you're arrested for it it's going to be on your arrest record, whether the case is dismissed or whether you plead guilty, it's going to be on your arrest record. It's not always that easy to obtain a copy of someone's full criminal arrest record, it's usually fairly protected. Not just anybody can go get that arrest record.
First Time Theft Offenders May be Shown Leniency by St. Louis Prosecution
Interviewer: How are theft charges usually handled by the prosecution? Do they always go for the maximum penalty?
Kevin Roach: The number 1 thing that the prosecutor normally looks at in stealing charges is normally whether there's any prior offences. That affects the disposition, the recommendation that they're going to offer on your case. So if someone has no prior offences, it's an isolated incident, they just couldn't resist sticking something in their pocket and trying to walk out the store, it's never happened to them before in their life, typically those cases, a lot of times you can get them amended to littering, or you can take a class and get those dismissed or sometimes they offer a suspended sentence so it's not on your record.
For Chronic Repeat Offenders the Prosecution Advocates Maximum Penalties
But if someone has, I've had individuals where they are chronic offenders, they do it over and over and over again, well in those scenarios a lot of times the prosecutor does go for the maximum penalty. On a class A misdemeanor they may ask for a year in jail or 6 months in jail. A lot of times it's just to scare them, a lot of times it's not. They really think they should be punished. To answer your question, it really depends on what the defendant's past criminal record is, as to whether or not they ask for the maximum or not.
Expungement of Theft Charges in the State of Missouri
Interviewer: Are there any ways a theft charge can be expunged or removed from the record?
Kevin Roach: In Missouri there is an expungement statute and it's a very narrow expungement statute for criminal arrest. Basically you have to show that there was no probable cause at the time of the arrest or that your arrest was based on false information in order to qualify for the expungement. Given that the expungement statute in Missouri is so narrow, most people do not quality for that because if you pled guilty or took a suspended sentence or suspended execution of sentence, you're precluded by statute from getting that offense expunged.
Typically the Expungement of an arrest is Usually for Cases Which Result in Dismissal or Acquittal of Charges
So typically, the expungement of an arrest is usually for cases in which the charges were dismissed or someone was acquitted or sometimes you can get an amendment down to littering, you can make the case that it wasn't sufficient probable cause at the time of arrest or that it was based on false information. I have been able to expunge a number of criminal arrests but it's not always that cut and dry, a lot of times it depends on which judge you're in front of as far as interpretation of the statute. Some judges are more liberal in their interpretation of it than others.
Kevin J. roach is a St. Louis DWI defense attorney who has defended thousands of DWI and DUI cases in the St. Louis Metro area. Call us today at (636) 519-0085 or (866) 519-0085 for your Free Consultation!