According to Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Statistical Analysis Center, there were 114,657 cases of larceny/theft in Missouri in 2018—the latest year for full statistics—and another 19,746 incidents of vehicle theft. Unfortunately, Missouri residents are often wrongly accused or over-sentenced for crimes of theft. Theft under Missouri Law is defined under the broad umbrella term of “stealing,” which includes conduct such as larceny, theft, robbery, shoplifting, vehicle theft, and check fraud.
If you or someone you love is under investigation for stealing in Missouri or North Central Arkansas, reach out to me. I offer solid legal representation to help you pursue the strong defense and the freedom you deserve. My law office is proud to serve individuals in West Plains, The Ozarks, and surrounding areas in Missouri and Arkansas.
A person is guilty of stealing if that person appropriates (takes) property or services of another with the purpose to deprive them of the property without their consent, including deceit or coercion. Additionally, where an individual intends to deprive someone else of their property, and either receives, retains or disposes of the property, while knowing that the property is stolen or even believing it is stolen, stealing will be found.
A few examples of conduct that might constitute stealing, depending on the circumstances, might include:
Taking a friend’s motor vehicle without their express permission;
Failing to pay for services at a restaurant or hotel;
Removing a retail item without paying for it; and
Taking home items from a workplace.
The statute indicates various classes of stealing, which can be graded as either misdemeanors or felonies, and the assigned class depends principally on the value of the property that was stolen. Secondarily, the offense class can be modified where particular types of property are appropriated. Fines and length of incarceration will vary depending on the class and your criminal record. No matter what the assigned class, the punishment for these offenses can be weighty.
The defense to a charge of stealing is known as the defense of entitlement. It is a proper defense to a charge of stealing where you can show that you had an honest belief of entitlement to the stolen item, you did not know or believe the property was stolen, and you lacked the intent to appropriate the item from another person. You might even be able to show that the owner of the item would have consented to your appropriation of the item.
In summary, you can only be found guilty of stealing if the prosecution can show that you knew or believed that the property that you were involved with was stolen. This knowledge component is the lynchpin of the analysis – it separates a thief from a person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the eyes of the law, this knowledge component truly separates a person who stole from a person who borrowed; a person who stole from a person who found or unknowingly received.
In order for a Court to apply potentially harsh fines and penalties provided for in the statute, justice requires that the prosecution must prove the requisite knowledge. If your knowledge cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, you, for all intents and purposes, were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and are undeserving of those penalties.
The breadth of the statute and the complexity of the case law related to the crime of stealing coupled with the steep penalties necessitate having a knowledgeable and strategically minded criminal defense attorney in your corner. My experience in this area will help us craft a meticulous and strategically minded defense, and guide you step-by-step through stealing laws in Missouri.
At the end of the day, everyone deserves a chance at justice when it comes to criminal accusations—no matter their specific scenario. If you are in the area of Thayer, Missouri, including the West Plains or the Ozarks, please feel free to reach out to my office so that I can seek results for you and your loved ones.