Defending Against the Consequences of Theft Charges
Theft is a broad category of crime that spans a wide range of misdemeanor and felony offenses. It is defined as follows at CRS 18-4-401: “A person commits theft when he or she knowingly obtains, retains, or exercises control over anything of value of another without authorization or by threat or deception…” The theft crime category incorporates a long list of criminal offenses. Theft crimes can be committed by taking someone else’s property, by failing to return property when it is due back to the owner, or by knowingly receiving stolen property.
Common Theft Charges in Colorado
A number of criminal offenses fall in the category of theft crimes. Common theft crimes in Colorado include:
- Larceny: Illegally taking the property of another with intent to deprive the owner of that property.
- Robbery: Stealing property directly from a person using force or threat of force.
- Burglary: Entering a building or structure unlawfully with the intent to commit a crime.
- Extortion: Using threats to extract money or property from another.
- Embezzlement: Using legal access to the property of another to illegally convert the property for one’s own use.
- False Pretenses: Obtaining title to the personal property of another by making an intentional statement with intent to defraud the victim.
- Shoplifting: Willful theft of merchandise from a retail establishment without knowledge or consent of the seller, with the intention of converting the merchandise to one’s personal use without having paid the purchase price.
Penalties for Theft Charges Upon Conviction
Penalties for theft crimes in Colorado depend on the value of the property involved:
- Less than $50 (Class 1 petty offense): Up to six months in jail and fines of up to $500.
- $50 to $300 (Class 3 misdemeanor): Up to six months jail time and up to $750 in fines.
- $300 to $750 (Class 2 misdemeanor): Up to one year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines.
- $750 to $2,000 (Class 1 misdemeanor): Prison sentence of up to 1.5 years and fines of up to $5,000.
- $2,000 to $5,000 (Class 6 felony): Up to 1.5 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000.
- $5,000 to $20,000 (Class 5 felony): Up to three years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.
- $20,000 to $100,000 (Class 4 felony): Prison term of up to six years and fines of up to $500,000.
- $100,000 to $1 million (Class 3 felony): Up to 12 years in prison and up to $750,000 in fines.
- More than $1 million (Class 2 felony): Prison sentence of up to 24 years and fines of up to $1 million.
Defending Colorado Theft Charges
In defending against theft charges, including accusations of vehicle theft, a Colorado criminal defense attorney must ask if the prosecution has sufficient evidence to prove every element of the theft crime charged. Can the prosecutor prove that the accused is the person who committed the crime and prove the value of the items allegedly taken? Depending on the circumstances, there may be defenses to assert in your case. For example:
- You were borrowing the property, not stealing it.
- You had permission to use the property.
- The property in question actually belonged to you.
- You did not threaten the person (if threat is being claimed).
Why You Need a Lawyer
In addition to jail time and fines, conviction of theft crimes can mean personal restrictions, such as probation and limited access to certain locations. It can also impact your employment and housing opportunities in the future. An experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney has the knowledge, skills, and resources to fight to seek a favorable outcome in your case. Call Welsh Law, LLC at (720) 836-1777 if you are facing theft charges in Colorado.