Reviewed on: November 16,2016

Has the Missouri Supreme Court made a ruling that makes stealing of any amount a misdemeanor?

Missouri Supreme Court just passed a new law about a week ago, to do with stealing, no matter the amount, cannot be a felony, only a misdemeanor, and only if the case is currently pending, which my boyfriend's is, however it is for receiving stolen property, will this law apply for him on this to, I our think

Asked: September 17,2016
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This is NOT a new law, it is a misintrepation of THE law. This Missouri Supreme Court ruling is considered a "legislative blunder", we are not certain of it's impact on any of the few hundred pending cases. It is our opinion that thjey will all be fixed on January 1, 2017 and if you are to take advantage of the loophole, do so before the new year.

The decision dealt with a felony theft case – State v. Bazell — in which a woman was convicted of stealing a .40-caliber pistol, a .22-caliber rifle, a laptop, a suitcase, jewelry valued at $8,000 and two pairs of tennis shoes. Bazell fought her case all the way up to the state Supreme Court, but the justices weren't interested in her public defender's arguments about double jeopardy or the problems raised about a photo lineup. 

But they did find something else that concerned them — something with major repercussions for many other cases.

During the oral arguments in April, though, Flottman says the justices became fixated on Missouri's basic definition of felony theft. She was asked to provide a supplemental brief on the issue. 

Ultimately, the justices found a fatal contradiction in a 2002 legislative adjustment to the criminal code. The problem lay between two subparagraphs in the section defining criminal theft, 570.030

The first subparagraph, 570.030.1, provides the basic description: Stealing is appropriating "property or services of another with the purpose to deprive him or her thereof, either without his consent or by means of deceit or coercion.” 

Pretty simple right? Stealing is taking someone else's stuff. 

But the court didn't like what it read two subparagraphs later, in 570.030.3, which states that "any offense in which the value of property or services is an element" can be bumped up to a Class C Felony. 

The court looked at these two paragraphs and called, in effect, bullshit. 

"The definition of stealing in section 570.030.1 is clear and unambiguous," the court wrote in its ruling. (Remember, that part defined "stealing" as the simple act of appropriating someone else's stuff. It didn't say anything about the value of that stuff.)

"The value of the property or services appropriated is not an element of the offense of stealing,” the court noted. "As a result, the enhancement pursuant to section 570.030.3 does not apply to Defendant’s stealing convictions for the theft of the firearms. These offenses must, therefore, be classified as misdemeanors." 

But don't start plotting your theft spree just yet. This bizarre loophole is about to close. A new reform of the state's criminal code will go into effect on January 1, 2017, and the revisions to 570.030 will untangle the problems noted by the court and thus effectively revive felony theft in Missouri. It's only people in the middle of the two changes to the law — those convicted of felony theft after 2002 but before 2017 — who have any hope of reprieve.

Accepted Answer Date Created: September 18,2016