When you are facing charges for taking property, you may not realize all of the consequences of a conviction. Find out how Colorado theft laws work, and what you are risking if you decide to plead guilty.
What Counts as Theft?
Colorado theft laws cover a range of illegal behavior, from shoplifting from a convenience store to embezzling from your employer. What ties them all together is that theft offenses all involve knowingly taking control of something valuable that belongs to someone else without the authority to do it and then keeping it or hiding it so that the owner can’t get it back. The laws against theft in Colorado are written in broad terms on purpose, covering a variety of thefts including:
- Larceny (theft from a building)
- Burglary (theft from a home)
- Robbery (theft from a person)
- Embezzlement (theft from an employer)
- False Pretenses (theft by deception)
- Shoplifting (theft from a business)
Colorado also has a number of specific theft laws covering specific illegal behaviors like:
- Stealing trade secrets
- Auto theft
- Hiding goods in a store for theft later
- Illegal resale of lift tickets
- Sale of devices to shield against theft detection
What’s It Worth?
The consequences of violating Colorado theft laws generally depend on the value of the property taken:
- Less than $50: Petty theft punishable by up to 6 months in jail and $500 in fines
- $50 to $300: Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and $750 in fines
- $300 to $750: Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison and $1,000 in fines
- $750 to $2,000: Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months in prison and $5,000 in fines
- $2,000 to $5,000: Class 6 felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison and $100,000 in fines
- $5,000 to $20,000: Class 5 felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines
- $20,000 to $100,000: Class 4 felony punishable by up to 6 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines
- $100,000 and $1 million: Class 3 felony punishable by up to 12 years in prison and up to $750,000 in fines
- More than $1 million: Class 2 felony punishable by up to 24 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines.
The specific theft crimes each have their own penalties as well. If you have a history of felony theft convictions, two or more felony convictions within the last 4 years can also increase your sentence and eliminate your chances for probation or a suspended sentence.
Financial Risks in Theft Cases Go Beyond the Fines
Theft is necessarily a crime involving property of some value. The more severe the theft law, the higher the value of the thing taken. Because of this, prosecutors and judges often want to be certain that value is restored as part of the criminal sentence. In addition to fines, court costs, probation fees, and other financial consequences, if you are convicted of violating Colorado theft laws you should expect to pay restitution. This is money paid through the court system to the person you stole from to compensate them for what was taken. Restitution often must be entirely repaid before you can be released from probation or parole.
On top of the criminal charges, whoever you stole from may also file a lawsuit to be compensated for their loss. In shoplifting cases, your criminal conviction can be used as proof in these cases that you should be required to pay for the actual damage done, as well as an additional civil penalty of $100 to $250.
Colorado Theft Charges Could Cost You Your Next Job
When you are facing criminal charges for theft, you probably aren’t considering the effect of a conviction on your employment record. But you should. A theft conviction can prevent you from passing security clearances and keep you from advancing in your field or landing a new job. That is on top of the negative stigma attached to any felony conviction.
Defending Against Colorado Theft Charges
To keep from risking your freedom and your career, you will need a criminal defense attorney who can help fight back against Colorado theft charges. The best legal defenses in your case will depend on what happened, what was taken, and what the police did while investigating the case. However, common defenses include demonstrating that you:
- Were borrowing the property, not taking it
- Had permission to use the property
- Owned the property
- Didn’t threaten the person (when threat is claimed)
Your attorney may also sometimes be able to show that the thing you took wasn’t worth as much as the prosecutor says it was.
Understanding the risk behind Colorado theft laws can be difficult. Defending against the charges can be even worse. Don’t count on your smile getting you a good deal from the prosecutors. At Aviso Law, LLC, our criminal defense attorneys have experience with all varieties of Colorado theft charges. We are here to serve you whether you are facing petty shopkeeping charges or a life-changing felony. We will help you identify your options, and any defenses you may have, so you can choose the best way forward. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.