Understanding Theft Charges in Missouri – Charges, Penalties, & Defenses

A man being arrested for larceny and theft charges in Jefferson City, MO.

Theft is the most common property crime in Missouri, accounting for more than 70 percent of property crimes in the state. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, there are more than 115,000 theft charges levied against defendants each year. However, more than 20 percent of those accused are eventually cleared of all charges. 

Individuals charged with theft face potential jail/prison time, fines, a criminal record, and more. At Kirsch & Kirsch, we understand that an accusation does not mean you are guilty. 

If you’ve been charged with theft, you should immediately contact a criminal defense lawyer experienced with theft and larceny cases in Missouri. They can help investigate your case, present evidence on your behalf, negotiate with the prosecution, and inform you of your options. 

Contact us today at 573-222-0826 for your free initial consultation. 

Learn more about theft charges in Missouri below. 

Is Theft a Misdemeanor or Felony Offense in Missouri? 

Missouri law recognizes the varying nature of theft offenses and establishes offense level and designation depending on the circumstances of the case. For that reason, theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense. 

If you’ve been charged with a felony, a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Missouri can potentially negotiate with the prosecution to decrease your charges or have them dismissed. 

Will I go to Jail For First Offense Petty Theft?

It depends on the nature of the charges. Defendants accused of “petty theft” or stealing something (less than a certain value or not within felony categories of theft) are not likely to face jail time. However, that’s not a guarantee. Petty theft charges can be a Class D or Class A Misdemeanor. 

People convicted of a Class D misdemeanor face a maximum penalty of $500. Defendants convicted of a Class A misdemeanor can spend up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000. 

If you’ve been charged with a first offense theft misdemeanor in Jefferson City, you should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to review your case. 

Penalties For Felony Theft and Stealing in Missouri 

Those convicted of misdemeanor theft aren’t always given jail time. However, if you’re convicted of a felony theft crime in Missouri, you face prison time. A judge can also order defendants to pay fines and restitution. 

Learn more about potential criminal and civil penalties for felony theft convictions in Missouri below.   

Criminal Penalties 

The criminal penalties for theft depend on what was stolen, its value, criminal history, and many other factors. Generally, the consequences for a conviction can include, but are not limited to: 

  • Class A Felony Theft: 10 – 30 years in prison, potentially a life sentence. 
  • Class B Felony Theft: 5 – 15 years in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines. 
  • Class C Felony Theft: 3 – 10 years in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines. 
  • Class D Felony Theft: Up to seven years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Class E Felony Theft: Up to four years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. 

Additional fines and penalties may be assessed depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. Contact a Missouri theft attorney to learn more about how your charge could affect your case. 

Civil Penalties

Missouri theft laws allow a judge to order restitution payments to the victim to compensate for expenses related to the theft, but in some cases, that’s not enough. Defendants accused of stealing (regardless of the charge) potentially face a civil suit in addition to the criminal case. 

Potential Defenses For Theft

At least 20 percent of the time, theft charges in Missouri don’t lead to a conviction. Unfortunately, many accusations are based on misunderstandings, lies, and mistakes. No lawyer can guarantee that a defense strategy will be successful. However, there are a few potential defenses to theft charges. They include:

  • A claim of right or ownership of property defense
  • Entrapment
  • Mistakenly forgot to return the property 

Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Jefferson Missouri Today

If you’ve been charged with stealing, theft, or larceny in Jefferson City, MO, contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Not only can a conviction send you to jail, but it could irreparably damage your future. 

The criminal defense lawyers at Kirsch & Kirsch understand that mistakes and false accusations happen. We’re here to help you clear your name. 

Contact us today at 573-222-0826 for your confidential, initial, free consultation.