Local court was wrong to let Nixa man change felony plea, Missouri Supreme Court rules – Springfield News

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CLOSECRIMINAL JUSTICE TOPICS IN SPRINGFIELD
The different types of felony classifications | 1:00

There are six different types of felony classifications in Missouri and they carry a range of different punishments.
Giacomo Bologna

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CLOSECRIMINAL JUSTICE TOPICS IN SPRINGFIELD
5 things to know about crime in Springfield | 1:18

A look at the 2016 crime statistics in Springfield.
News-Leader staff

  • The different types of felony classifications

A Christian County court lacked the authority to change a man’s charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The high court permanently overruled the circuit court’s decision, overriding the Christian County order allowing Robby Ledford’s plea of guilty to felony stealing be changed to a misdemeanor and accordingly resentencing him. 

“Ledford’s claim is procedurally defaulted and substantively meritless,” the full state Supreme Court agreed.

Ledford, of Nixa, pleaded guilty to the felony charge of stealing items worth more than $500 and less than $25,000 in October 2014, according to online court records. He was sentenced to five years probation.

His probation was revoked, however, and the Department of Corrections took him into custody in late 2015 for the state of a five-year prison term.

In February, Ledford filed a legal motion to take back his guilty plea, arguing that a 2016 Missouri Supreme Court order involving a burglar’s appeal made his conviction and sentence unlawful.

In the 2016 case, a woman who stole a rifle and a pistol successfully argued that her two felony convictions for stolen firearms should be classified as misdemeanors. The Missouri Supreme Court then ruled that “the felony enhancement does not apply to the offense of stealing” defined by law, according to court documents.

Ledford argued his sentence was greater than the maximum the law allows.

In March 2017, the Christian County Circuit Court agreed with him, lowering his charge from a Class C felony to a Class A misdemeanor and giving him a new, less severe sentence of one year in the county jail and credit for time served. 

The State of Missouri appealed via the Christian County Prosecutor’s Office.

In its order, the Missouri Supreme Court said the Christian County Circuit Court overstepped its bounds and decided Ledford’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea came too late. 

The ruling on the 2016 burglary case was not meant to be retroactive, the supreme court said, and the lower court erroneously assumed it did.

Article source: Supreme Court