24 August 2016


It turns out that because of sloppy law writing in Missouri, theft is no longer a felony in the Show Me State:
On an opinion that went largely unnoticed, the Missouri Supreme Court issued a ruling Tuesday that had the effect of making most stealing offenses no longer felonies thanks to an apparently inadvertent change to state law way back in 2002. The far-reaching decision sent criminal defense attorneys across the state scrambling.

The case – State v. Bazell – was brought by a woman who had been convicted of multiples felonies for stealing firearms, among other things, in a burglary case. The court said the firearm felonies should be knocked down to misdemeanors because a portion of the state's criminal code designating certain types of offenses as felonies is written in a way that doesn’t make it applicable to the state’s definition of stealing itself.

“If the words are clear, the Court must apply the plain meaning of the law,” the opinion said. “When the meaning of a statute is clear, the Court should not employ canons of construction to achieve a desired result.”


Subparagraph 3 covers a whole assortment of stealing crimes, including the stealing of explosives, credit cards, motor vehicles, property deeds, anything worth between $500-$25,000 and in any case in which the suspect physically takes something from the victim’s person. Additionally, subparagraph 8 – which designates stealing anything worth more than $25,000 as a Class B felony – has similar language, and thus is no longer applicable as well, public defenders believe.

Because of Tuesday’s ruling, anyone who was charged with a felony for those kinds of crimes has a chance to get it brought down to a misdemeanor, as long as it’s for a crime after 2002, when the language was added, Flottman said.
Son of Missouri Harry S Truman must be spinning in his grave.

Son of Missouri Mark Twain must be laughing somewhere.


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