JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri attorney general’s office is reviewing a recent state Supreme Court ruling that may impact the criminal charge of felony stealing.
The Missouri Supreme Court cited contradictory language in state criminal code when ruling this week in a case where a woman was convicted of stealing firearms, jewelry and other items, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2bDEKgP ) reports.
The language is a result of changes the Missouri Legislature made in 2002.
A statute allows the state to enhance the stealing of items or services of a certain value to a felony charge if the value of the item is an element in the offense. The court ruled that because the law defining stealing doesn’t include the value of property stolen as an element of the offense, prosecutors couldn’t charge the woman with felony stealing.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce’s spokeswoman says Joyce is studying the ruling’s implications, and is waiting to hear if Attorney General Chris Koster’s office intends to appeal the state Supreme Court’s decision.
Ellen Flottman with the Central Appellate Office of Missouri State Public Defender System said the state public defender’s office sees the ruling as precedent that its lawyers can use to defend anyone with pending felony stealing charges.
“Stealing is not an offense in which value is an element,” Flottman said. “That language has no business being in there. I don’t know why the Legislature put it in there. I don’t think they intended it to have this effect, certainly.”
The criminal code will be updated starting Jan. 1. Flottman said the contradictory language will no longer be in the code.
According to Flottman, trial attorneys in the system are already being notified of the implications of the court’s decision.
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com