Take Something That Isn’t Yours and Prosecutors Will Try To Take Your Freedom and Money
Just as there is a wide range of items one can steal – from cars to credit cards to candy bars- there are many different types of theft charges in Colorado. If you get caught stealing something that’s not yours in Colorado, the potential consequences will depend on what you stole, how you stole it, and how much the item was worth.
But no matter which specific theft offense El Paso County prosecutors charge you with, the penalties can be severe. Consequences may include significant jail time, hefty fines, and the burden of a criminal record that will follow you for years or decades to come. Hiring a Colorado Springs theft defense attorney is the best chance to avoid the worst fallout from theft charges.
What is Theft?
While the different theft charges in Colorado contain their own distinct elements, prosecutors will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the following, regardless of which theft crime they charge you with:
- You knowingly obtained, retained, or exercised control over something of value belonging to another person without their authorization or by using threats or deception; and
- You intended to permanently deprive the other person of the use or benefit of the thing of value;
- You knowingly used, concealed, or abandoned the thing of value in such a way as to permanently deprive the owner of its use or benefit;
- You used, concealed, or abandoned the thing of value intending to permanently deprive the owner of its use or benefit;
- You demanded money or any other consideration as a condition of returning the thing of value to the owner; or
- You knowingly retained the thing of value for more than 72 hours after the agreed-upon time to return it as outlined in any lease or hire agreement.
What Theft Charges Will You Face?
Colorado law divides crimes into two broad categories: misdemeanors and felonies, with the latter generally coming with more significant potential consequences upon conviction. Within these two categories, crimes come in different classes; the lower the class number, the higher the possible fines and time behind bars.
Whether El Paso County prosecutors charge you with a misdemeanor or felony, and which class of offense they will charge you with, will largely depend on the value of the property they accuse you of stealing. Specifically:
- If the value of the property you allegedly stole is less than $500, you will be charged with petty theft, a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- If the value of the property is between $500-$1,000, you face a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000.
- If the theft involves property worth more than $1,000 but less than $20,000, you will be charged with a class 4 felony and the much harsher penalties that go along with felony offenses. Specifically, upon conviction for a class 4 theft offense, you face a minimum of two years in state prison up to a maximum of six years behind bars, plus a fine of between $2,000 and $500,000.
- If prosecutors charge you for the theft of property valued at $20,000 or more, you will face the penalties that come with a class 3 felony conviction. This includes a minimum of four years in state prison up to a maximum of 12 years with at least five years of parole and a fine ranging from $3,000 to $750,000.
The above penalties are only for a first-time theft conviction. As with almost all crimes, the penalties become more severe for second and subsequent theft convictions.
In addition to these criminal penalties, a conviction for shoplifting in Colorado comes with the possibility of civil liability to the store owner for actual damages (usually the value of the item stolen) plus an additional penalty of between $100 and $250, payable to the store owner.
Specific Theft Crimes in Colorado
In addition to these general theft crimes, Colorado law contains specific statutes for the theft of particular kinds of items, regardless of their value. For example:
- theft of trade secrets (C.R.S. § 18-4-408.)
- aggravated motor vehicle theft (C.R.S. § 18-4-409.)
- theft of medical records (C.R. S. § 18-4-412.)
- theft by resale of ski lift ticket or coupon (C.R.S. § 18-4-416.)
Theft Charges In Colorado Springs Should Be Taken Seriously
If you face theft charges of any kind in Colorado Springs, you will increase your chances of obtaining the best outcome by speaking with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Even if you avoid, a conviction for theft will go on your criminal record. Theft crimes on a record are particularly damaging to future employment prospects and other opportunities that involve trust as they call your honesty and trustworthiness into question.