St. Louis Shoplifting Defense Attorney
In the state of Missouri, a person commits the crime of stealing if he or she takes the property or services of another with the intention of depriving him or her of it, without consent or through deceit or coercion.
The crime of stealing is also commonly known as shoplifting, petty larceny, or theft in Missouri. Misdemeanor theft is a very common offense in Missouri, prompting many retailers in the St. Louis area to maintain a zero tolerance policy for shoplifting and routinely prosecute all cases, regardless of the dollar amount stolen.
If you have been charged with shoplifting in Missouri, it is important that you consult with a St. Louis criminal defense lawyer prior to making any statements or pleading guilty. Many times a stealing or shoplifting charge can be amended or dismissed so it does not remain on your record.
Penalties for Shoplifting in Missouri
As in most states, shoplifting penalties in Missouri are based on the value of the goods you are accused of stealing.
- The offense of stealing is a class D misdemeanor if the property appropriated has a value of less than $150, and the person has no previous findings of guilt for a stealing-related offense
- Stolen property valued above $750 is a class D felony
- Stolen property valued above $25,000 is a class B felony
Penalties for Stealing Related Offenses in Missouri
Below is a breakdown of penalties for stealing related offenses from section 570.030 in Missouri Revised Statutes.
As long as the property does not fall under certain specified types of property listed below, the offense of stealing is a class D misdemeanor if the property appropriated has a value of less than one hundred fifty dollars and the person has no previous findings of guilt for a stealing-related offense,
The offense of stealing is a class A misdemeanor if no other penalty is specified in this section.
The offense of stealing is a class E felony if:
(1) The property appropriated is an animal; or
(2) A person has previously been found guilty of three stealing-related offenses committed on three separate occasions where such offenses occurred within ten years of the date of occurrence of the present offense.
The offense of stealing is a class D felony if:
(1) The value of the property or services appropriated is seven hundred fifty dollars or more;
(2) The offender physically takes the property appropriated from the person of the victim; or
(3) The property appropriated consists of:
(a) Any motor vehicle, watercraft or aircraft;
(b) Any will or unrecorded deed affecting real property;
(c) Any credit device, debit device or letter of credit;
(d) Any firearms;
(e) Any explosive weapon as defined in section 571.010;
(f) Any United States national flag designed, intended and used for display on buildings or stationary flagstaffs in the open;
(g) Any original copy of an act, bill or resolution, introduced or acted upon by the legislature of the state of Missouri;
(h) Any pleading, notice, judgment or any other record or entry of any court of this state, any other state or of the United States;
(i) Any book of registration or list of voters required by chapter 115;
(j) Any animal considered livestock as that term is defined in section 144.010;
(k) Any live fish raised for commercial sale with a value of seventy-five dollars or more;
(l) Any captive wildlife held under permit issued by the conservation commission;
(m) Any controlled substance as defined by section 195.010;
(n) Ammonium nitrate;
(o) Any wire, electrical transformer, or metallic wire associated with transmitting telecommunications, video, internet, or voice over internet protocol service, or any other device or pipe that is associated with conducting electricity or transporting natural gas or other combustible fuels; or
(p) Any material appropriated with the intent to use such material to manufacture, compound, produce, prepare, test or analyze amphetamine or methamphetamine or any of their analogs.
The offense of stealing is a class C felony if the value of the property or services appropriated is twenty-five thousand dollars or more.
The offense of stealing is a class B felony if:
(1) The property appropriated or attempted to be appropriated consists of any amount of anhydrous ammonia or liquid nitrogen;
(2) The property consists of any animal considered livestock as the term livestock is defined in section 144.010, or any captive wildlife held under permit issued by the conservation commission, and the value of the animal or animals appropriated exceeds three thousand dollars and that person has previously been found guilty of appropriating any animal considered livestock or captive wildlife held under permit issued by the conservation commission. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, such person shall serve a minimum prison term of not less than eighty percent of his or her sentence before he or she is eligible for probation, parole, conditional release, or other early release by the department of corrections;
(3) A person appropriates property consisting of a motor vehicle, watercraft, or aircraft, and that person has previously been found guilty of two stealing-related offenses committed on two separate occasions where such offenses occurred within ten years of the date of occurrence of the present offense;
(4) The property appropriated or attempted to be appropriated consists of any animal considered livestock as the term is defined in section 144.010 if the value of the livestock exceeds ten thousand dollars; or
(5) The property appropriated or attempted to be appropriated is owned by or in the custody of a financial institution and the property is taken or attempted to be taken physically from an individual person to deprive the owner or custodian of the property.
The offense of stealing is a class A felony if the property appropriated consists of any of the following containing any amount of anhydrous ammonia: a tank truck, tank trailer, rail tank car, bulk storage tank, field nurse, field tank or field applicator.
Civil Consequences to Shoplifting in Missouri
As the firm with the best St. Louis shoplifting defense attorney, we know Missouri laws. Missouri law also provides businesses with an opportunity to bring a civil lawsuit against someone who has attempted to take merchandise without permission of the business owner. Under Section 570.087 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, even when a person is caught stealing and all the goods are retrieved, the business owner is still within his rights to demand a payment of up to $250 in satisfaction of a potential civil claim.
Before a business initiates a lawsuit under this law, it will typically send the offender a demand notice to pay $250 within a certain time frame. If the thief is a minor, the business might demand the payment or file a lawsuit against the minor’s parent or guardian.
Defense Against a Theft Charge
Under Missouri’s Claim to Right law, a person is not considered to have committed theft if he or she can prove that at the time of the offense, they:
- Honestly believed they had the right to do so, or
- Acted in the honest belief that the owner, if present, would have consented to them taking the property
The person accused of committing the theft has the burden of proving his or her claim of right to the property.
St. Louis Shoplifting Defense Attorney Can Get Charges Amended
First offense misdemeanor shoplifting or stealing charges in the St. Louis area can often be amended to a lesser offense. If the defendant has no prior record, they may be able to get a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS), an amendment to littering, or a dismissal of the charges upon completion of a theft offender class.
The crime of burglary is committed when a person enters a building or habitation with the intent to commit a crime. Burglary can be charged as a class C or class B felony. Robbery in Missouri is when a person forcibly steals from another. Robbery can be charges as a class B or class A felony.
Contact a St. Louis Shoplifting Defense Attorney
Kevin J. Roach is a St. Louis criminal defense lawyer who consistently handles theft and shoplifting cases in the St. Louis metro area. He understands the charges you are facing and he will protect your rights and help ensure the best possible outcome for you. Contact The Law Offices of Kevin J. Roach, L.L.C. to schedule a no-charge, no-risk initial consultation today.