Prosecutors in Missouri are having to change up some criminal charges after a ruling by the state’s Supreme Court. The issue that the Missouri Supreme Court’s ruling caused is that many of the charges that defendants are facing are now considered invalid. This means that prosecutors have to either amend the charges or drop them.
A fix to the issue that was brought up by the court’s decision will go into effect on Dec. 31 thanks to an update to the criminal code. Until then, the value of the items taken in theft cases can’t be an element for a felony offense. The court found that two of a woman’s convictions weren’t felonies because the criminal code contained contradictory language after an update that was made 14 years ago.
Prosecutors are having to get a bit creative when they are trying to determine how to amend charges. Some theft cases are being changed to receiving or possession of stolen property. Cases that have multiple charges, such as theft and robbery, are having the theft charge dropped while the robbery proceeds.
One particularly interesting change was in a case stemming from alleged embezzlement. That charge was amended to felony forgery from felony theft.
After the new updates take effect at the end of this year, the amended charges won’t be necessary because that update corrects the problem found by the Supreme Court. Until then, defendants who have their charges amended might have to revamp their defense strategies to address the new charges. Understanding the elements of the new charges can help to determine how the defense should be changed.
Source: eMissourian.com, “Prosecutor Forced to Amend Theft Cases — Due to Supreme Court Ruling,” Ed Pruneau, Sep. 28, 2016