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Robert A. Ciuffa, Attorney at Law
9306 Olive Boulevard
Saint Louis, MO 63132
Phone: 314-219-1906
Toll Free: 888-745-2635
Fax: 314-997-4324
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Shoplifting, Stealing and Larceny

This group of crimes spans the spectrum of jurisdictions and courts. Every municipality, city or village that has its own court has a stealing (shoplifting or larceny) ordinance. Likewise every county municipal court processes cases brought under that county's ordinance. These stealing offenses are all misdemeanors with maximum punishments of no more than one (1) year in jail; many city or village theft ordinances limit the maximum jail sentence to 90 days.

Shoplifting is probably the largest subcategory of stealing or theft offenses prosecuted in municipal courts. This is hardly surprising given the proliferation of shopping centers and strip malls in almost every city, town or village in the St. Louis area.

The number of these offenses has grown to the point that the state prosecutor prefers to differ to the municipalities to handle these cases. While this spares the accused of the harsher punishment in the state courts, it does nothing to diminish the stigma and job killing effects on the defendant. Quite frankly, it is the rare employer who is willing to hire someone marked as a thief.

It is now a fact of life that youthful act of indiscretion leads to a cascade of events that literally makes the poor defendant unemployable. For the professional thief or "booster" this may be of little concern, but to your son or daughter caught shoplifting, the long term consequences to future employment and reputation can be onerous. Even grants of probation have a way of coming back to haunt when, for instance when you are trying to get licensed as a lawyer, stockbroker, or even a hairdresser. Jobs in areas of public trust or regulated areas are vetted much more closely than one would imagine.

Problems for the accused in these crimes become more complex for the two time or multiple offenders. After two (2) prior misdemeanor convictions theft thereafter can be enhanced to a felony stealing regardless of the value of the stolen item(s). It is entirely possible that stealing a pack of chewing gum can lead to a felony stealing charge and the prospect of a penitentiary sentence.

An experienced and knowledgeable lawyer can navigate these hazardous waters and help to prevent future injury to one's life. I have handled cases in these areas throughout my career and stand ready to assist you or your loved one. If you find yourself or your loved one in this predicament, please call my office.

This category of offenses is sometimes referred to "breaking and entering" after the essential elements of burglary. As a street term it falls short of accurately describing the real charge.

The old common law definition of burglary was "the breaking and entry into a dwelling house of another with the intent to commit a felony therein". Statutes have revised and expanded this definition.

In the first place, "dwelling house" has become any building and secondly, the "intent to commit a felony therein" has become any crime. Other statutory modifications have taken place so that if you open the unlocked door to your ex-wife's apartment to take a photograph of your kids, you will find yourself with Burglary Second Degree, a class "C" felony with a maximum sentence of seven (7) years. Things only get worse from here. If your ex-wife was home and neither of you were aware of the others presence, the charge could become Burglary First Degree, a "B" felony with a fifteen (15) year maximum.

I have had a youthful client who was charge with Burglary First because he entered into an open attached garage to steal a case of beer where the lady of the house was at home and completely unaware. So a teenage prank or bad idea became a serious and life altering problem. No explanation to a prospective employer would have been persuasive enough to minimize the felony to a kid's prank. The assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer is essential to eliminate the need for such explanations.

These offenses can leave an indelible mark on a person that education, talent, youth, good-looks, or other personal advantages can never erase. It is vital to your future that you properly attend to these charges and carefully select your defense counsel.

I can assure you that becoming a burglar is a very poor career choice.

Saint Louis attorney, Robert A. Ciuffa, represents people throughout the metropolitan St. Louis region, in communities such as: St. Francois County, Jefferson County, Lincoln County, Madison County, St. Charles County, St. Louis County, the City of St. Louis, Ballwin, Bel-Nor, Bel-Ridge, Bella Villa, Bellefontaine Neighbors, Bellerive Acres, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Breckenridge Hills, Brentwood, Bridgeton, Calverton Park, Charlack, Chesterfield, Clayton, Cool Valley, Country Club Hills, Crestwood, Creve Coeur, Des Peres, Ellisville, Eureka, Fenton, Ferguson, Florissant, Frontenac, Glendale, Hazelwood, Kirkwood, Ladue, Manchester, Maplewood, Marlborough, Maryland Heights, Normandy, Olivette, Overland Park, Pacific, Pine Lawn, Richmond Heights, Rock Hill, St. George, St. John, Shrewsbury, Sunset Hills, Town and Country, University City, Uplands Park, Valley Park, Velda Village, Vinita Park, Warson Woods, Woodson Terrace, the City of St. Charles, St. Peters, O'Fallon, Wentzville, Leadington, Park Hills, Hillsboro, and Byrnes Mill.