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Larceny and Theft in Missouri

Larceny, theft, or stealing are different names for the same crime in Missouri. The statute which defines the offense calls both larceny and theft, "stealing." This is an umbrella term that covers nearly all types of taking of another person's property without his or her consent. This crime can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on what was stolen or the value of the item taken.

Just because you are charged with a crime, does not mean that you are guilty. With the assistance of an experienced Missouri criminal defense lawyer, any questions or concerns you have about your theft charge can be effectively addressed.

Theft in Missouri

According to MO ST 570.030, "a person commits the offense of stealing if he or she:

(1) Appropriates property or services of another with the purpose to deprive him or her thereof, either without his or her consent or by means of deceit or coercion;

(2) Attempts to appropriate anhydrous ammonia or liquid nitrogen of another with the purpose to deprive him or her thereof, either without his or her consent or by means of deceit or coercion; or

(3) For the purpose of depriving the owner of a lawful interest therein, receives, retains or disposes of property of another knowing that it has been stolen, or believing that it has been stolen."

This language, direct from the statute, shows how broadly the term theft or stealing is defined in the State of Missouri. Many different types of conduct may be considered a crime, but that does not mean that your charge is correct or that you committed a provable crime.

Examples of Theft and Stealing

The broad language of the Missouri statute encompasses a great deal of conduct that may be criminal, and could subject a person to charges. Examples of stealing include, but are not limited to:

  • A person sneakily takes another person's luggage while at an airport.
  • A person fails to or refuses to pay for services rendered, such as a hotel or restaurant.
  • A person purposely takes merchandise out of a retail store without payment.
  • When a person alters a price tag, alters a receipt, or alters a price code label.
  • When someone steals a car, boat, or other motor vehicle.
  • When a person steals a controlled substance (drugs).
  • The person steals another's livestock or animal.

The actual circumstances that could be considered theft are too numerous to list, but the above examples help to illustrate just how broadly theft is defined in Missouri.

Felony and Misdemeanor Classifications & Penalties

Stealing crimes are put into different felony and misdemeanor classifications depending on the facts of the individual case.

Class A Felony

Stealing is a Class A felony if the person takes:

  • any amount of anhydrous ammonia within any of the following vehicles:
    • a tank truck,
    • tank trailer,
    • rail tank car,
    • bulk storage tank,
    • field nurse,
    • field tank, or 
    • field applicator

If convicted of a Class A felony offense, the person faces the following potential penalties:

  • prison sentence of not less than 10 years; and
  • not to exceed 30 years; or
  • life imprisonment.

A Class A felony charge is extremely serious, and can result in very lengthy prison sentences.

Class B Felony

Stealing is a Class B felony if the person takes:

  • any amount of anhydrous ammonia or liquid nitrogen;
  • livestock, captive wildlife under permit, or the value of the animal or animals exceeds $3,000 and the person has previously been found guilty of the same type of theft concerning an animal;
  • a person who steals a motor vehicle, watercraft, or aircraft and has been found guilty of two stealing related offense previously within the last 10 years;
  • if the livestock's value exceeds $10,000; or
  • the property is owned by a financial institution and is physically taken from a person.

Class B felony penalties include:

  • prison term of not less than 5 years,
  • but not more than 15 years.

Class C Felony

A person is guilty of a class C felony if the value of the property or services appropriated is $25,000 or more.

Class C felony penalties include:

  • a prison term of not less than 3 years,
  • but not more than 10 years.

Class D Felony

The offense of stealing is a class D felony if:

  • The value of the property or services appropriated is $750 or more;
  • The offender physically takes the property from the person of the victim; or
  • The property appropriated consists of:
    • Any motor vehicle, watercraft or aircraft;
    • Any will or unrecorded deed affecting real property;
    • Any credit device, debit device or letter of credit;
    • Any firearms;
    • Any explosive weapon;
    • Any United States national flag designed, intended and used for display on buildings or stationary flagstaffs in the open;
    • Any original copy of an act, bill or resolution, introduced or acted upon by the legislature of the state of Missouri;
    • Any pleading, notice, judgment or any other record or entry of any court of this state, any other state or of the United States;
    • Any book of registration or list of voters;
    • Any animal considered livestock;
    • Any live fish raised for commercial sale with a value of $75 or more;
    • Any captive wildlife held under permit issued by the conservation commission;
    • Any controlled substance;
    • Ammonium nitrate;
    • 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
    • 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 analogues.

Class D felony penalties include a prison term of up to 7 years.

Class E Felony

The offense is a Class E felony if:

  • the property is an animal; or
  • the person has been found guilty of 3 stealing related offenses within 10 years.

Class E convictions may a prison term of up to 4 years.

Misdemeanor Stealing Charges

A stealing offense can also be either a Class D misdemeanor or Class A misdemeanor, depending on the unique circumstances of your case.

The penalties for a Class A misdemeanor include:

  • maximum of 1 year in jail; and
  • up to a $2,000 fine.

The penalties for a Class D misdemeanor include:

  • a maximum penalty of a $500 fine.

Consult an Experienced Missouri Criminal Defense Attorney

If you face a stealing charge in Missouri, there are defenses that can be raised to protect your constitutional rights. Contact the Higher Level Legal Law Firm by calling (816) 331-9968 or fill out our online form.

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If you need assistance or have questions, please call us at (816) 331-9968 to schedule a consultation. We are here to help you through this process.