Theft Under Missouri Law
In Missouri, a person can be charged with theft for appropriating (or taking) the property or services of other people without their consent. However, in order to secure a theft conviction, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant:
- Had the intent to deprive the owner of the property; or
- Appropriated the property by means of deceit or coercion
If you have no intention to return the appropriated item to its rightful owner, you could face theft charges under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 570.030. You could also be charged with theft if you received property you knew or believe was stolen.
For example, if you buy an iPhone from a friend who admitted to stealing it from a local store, you could be charged with theft for receiving stolen property.
Classification of Theft Charges
Under Missouri law, theft charges can be broken down into different classes:
- Class D (a misdemeanor) involves the theft of property valued at less than $150.
- Class A (a misdemeanor) involves the theft of items or services with a value of between $150 and $750.
- Class E (a felony) involves stealing someone else’s animal.
- Class D (a felony) involves the theft of items or services valued at between $750 and $25,000, or when the defendant takes the property directly from the alleged victim, or the stolen property is one of those listed in Mo. Rev. Stat. § 570.030(5), including but not limited to controlled substances, firearms, motor vehicles, and credit cards.
- Class C (a felony) involves stealing items or services worth over $25,000.
- Class B (a felony) involves the theft of property containing liquid nitrogen, anhydrous ammonia, stealing property from financial institutions, livestock valued at over $10,000, and certain other types of criminal activity.
- Class A (a felony) involves stealing field tanks, tank trucks, rail tank cars, tank trailers, and certain other items containing anhydrous ammonia.
Possible Penalties for Theft Charges
Penalties depend on the classification of the theft charge:
- Class D misdemeanor – a maximum fine of $500
- Class A misdemeanor – up to a year in jail and less than $2,000 in fines
- Class E felony – less than 4 years in jail and a maximum fine of $10,000
- Class D felony – up to 7 years of imprisonment and no more than $10,000 in fines
- Class C felony – between 3 and 10 years in jail and less than $10,000 in fines
- Class B felony – a jail sentence of between 5 and 15 years
- Class A felony – imprisonment for up to 30 years or a life sentence
Common Theft Defenses
Defenses to theft charges depend on the specific facts of each case. Some of the most common defense strategies include:
- Mistaken identity
- The lack of intent to steal
- Claim of right
- Permission from the owner
Consider speaking with a criminal defense attorney in St. Louis, Missouri, to identify the best defense strategy in your theft case.