If you are convicted of theft in Missouri, you could face jail time or a fine. The severity of your punishment will depend on a variety of factors such as the value of the goods taken, whether it was taken from a person or a business, and the type of goods that were taken.
When theft occurs
According to state law, theft occurs when you take something from another party that doesn’t belong to you either through force or deception. Theft also occurs if you take any action that deprives the owner of the property of the right to use or benefit from an item. Finally, you could be charged with theft if you take or dispose of items that you know have been stolen or that you believe have been stolen.
Penalties for theft offenses range from a $500 fine for a Class D misdemeanor to life in prison for a Class A felony. You can be charged with a Class D felony if you took goods directly from an individual or if the good were worth more than $750 regardless of where or how you got them. A Class D felony is punishable by a prison term of up to seven years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Potential defenses to a theft charge
Just because you have been charged with theft doesn’t mean that you will be convicted of the crime. It may be possible to assert that you had permission to use or dispose of an item on the owner’s behalf. You may also be able to prove that you paid for the goods in question or are otherwise the rightful owner of an item that you’re accused of stealing.
A conviction on a theft charge may cause a serious interruption to your life even if you avoid significant jail time. A criminal record may make it harder to find a job, go to school or obtain suitable housing.