If you have been caught stealing something that’s not yours in Colorado, the potential consequences and penalties will depend on what you stole, who you stole it from, how you stole it, and how much it was worth. But no matter what you are accused of stealing, criminal theft charges can result in serious penalties, including significant jail time.
What is Theft?
Theft is the criminal charge you will face for stealing in Colorado, but there are many different kinds of theft with different elements and different penalties. No matter what kind of theft charges are brought against you, prosecutors will have to prove the following basic elements of the crime:
You knowingly obtained, retained, or exercised control over anything of value of another person without authorization or by threat or deception; and you:
- Intended to deprive the other person permanently of the use or benefit of the thing of value;
- Knowingly used, concealed, or abandoned the thing of value in such manner as to deprive the other person permanently of its use or benefit;
- Uses, concealed, or abandoned the thing of value intending to deprive the other person permanently of its use or benefit;
- Demanded money or any other consideration as a condition of restoring the thing of value to the other person; or
- Knowingly retained the thing of value more than 72 hours after the agreed-upon time of return in any lease or hire agreement.
Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-4-401(a).
What Theft Crime Will You Be Charged With?
The value of the stolen property dictates how serious the charges can become and how severe the penalties will be.
- If the value of what you are accused of stealing is less than $500, it will be charged as 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, it is a class 1 misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000
- If the theft involves a thing valued more than $1,000 but less than $20,000, it is classified as a class 4 felony and you could face the much harsher penalties that go along with these more serious crimes. Specifically, upon conviction, you will be sentenced to a minimum of two years in prison up to a maximum possible sentence of six years plus a fine of $2,000 to $500,000.
- Theft of property valued $20,000 or more is a class 3 felony in Colorado if the value of the property stolen is $20,000 or more carrying a sentence of a minimum of four years in prison up to a maximum of 12 years’ imprisonment, with at least five years of parole, plus a fine ranging from $3,000 to $750,000.
As with almost all crimes, the penalties become more severe for second and subsequent convictions. Furthermore, a person convicted of shoplifting in Colorado can be held civilly liable to the store owner for actual damages (usually the value of the item stolen) plus an additional penalty of from $100 to $250, payable to the store owner.
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 rental property (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-4-402.)
- theft of trade secrets (§ 18-4-408.)
- aggravated motor vehicle theft (§ 18-4-409.)
- theft of medical records (§ 18-4-412.)
- theft by resale of ski lift ticket or coupon (§ 18-4-416.)
- fuel piracy (§ 18-4-418.)
- newspaper theft
If you are facing theft charges of any kind in Colorado Springs, it is important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Even if you avoid a harsh and lengthy prison sentence, a conviction will go on your record, and a crime such as theft which calls into question your trustworthiness and honesty can have a devastating impact on your job opportunities and your future.