September 28, 2023
Compared to a lot of other crimes, theft doesn’t really seem that bad. After all, you’re not physically harming or killing anyone. And in the case of something like stealing and using another person’s credit card, most likely the victim won’t even suffer financially because the credit card company will notice the unusual activity and close the account.
No big deal, right?
But it is a big deal, and if you are charged with theft, you’ll learn just how big of a deal it is very quickly. Colorado takes theft seriously, and you will be up against incredibly severe punishments. Understanding these punishments and the attached charges is the first step in fighting back and protecting your rights.
The Definition of Theft
Colorado law defines theft as the intentional taking of someone else’s property or possessions. The law also includes hiding items, demanding money from the owner for the return of an item, motor vehicle theft, and even selling a ski lift ticket or coupon, among other things.
Essentially, knowing you are depriving someone of their property (or right to profits, in the case of ski lift tickets or shoplifting) means you are committing a theft. Sometimes, people borrow property or truly believe it is their own. In the case of ski lift tickets (and other cases covered in the statutes), people may not even realize it is a crime.
Penalties for Theft
The penalties for theft depend on the value of the stolen item(s) in question. The greater the value, the greater the penalty.
- Class 1 Petty Offense. Was the item in question under $50 in value? You can still be subject to six months in prison and a fine.
- Class 3 Misdemeanor Theft. If the item(s) were valued between $50 and $300, you may be sentenced to up to six months in jail and a fine.
- Class 2 Misdemeanor Theft. When items range from $300 to $750 in value, one year in jail along with a $1,000 fine is fairly standard sentencing.
- Class 1 Misdemeanor Theft. If items cost more than $750 but no more than $2,000. Up to 18 months in jail can be expected, along with a $5,000 fine.
- Class 6 Felony. Items valued at $2,000 to $5,000 fall into this category. One year to 18 months is the required sentencing, and can include fines.
- Class 5 Felony. When the value reaches $5,000 to $20,000, you may receive a standard 1 to 3 year sentence with additional fines.
- Class 4 Felony. Items valued at $20,000 to $100,000 come with two to six years sentencing as a standard, and a fine can be added as well.
- Class 3 Felony. The value of the items in this category can range from $100,000 to just under $1 million. You’re looking at 4 to 12 years in jail, possibly with an added fine on top.
- Class 2 Felony. If the value of the item or items is over $1 million it can result in an 8 to 24 year sentence, and up to $1 million in fines.
Defending Theft Charges
Depending on the extenuating circumstances involving your arrest or criminal charges for theft, a good defense attorney can use a number of effective defenses. For one, he or she may be able to prove your lack of intent to remove property. This can be an honest misunderstanding of the property’s rightful owner, or a lack of knowledge concerning the laws around things such as the resale of ski lift tickets, gas siphoning, and more. A defendant can also claim that they were tricked by others into taking someone else’s property unlawfully and had no intent to steal in the first place.
No matter the situation, every person charged with a crime has the right to representation and a fair trial. Contact an experienced Colorado defense lawyer who gets results in order to make sure you have the best chance to get your charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.