September 19, 2023
It’s nearly spring, and for plenty of college students, that means it’s time for spring break. Colorado is a popular spring break destination for many students, and tourism picks up quite a bit during this season. More people means more potential problems, so local law enforcement ramps up their community presence.
In fact, Spring Break is listed as one of 16 “The Heat Is on” DUI enforcement effort periods Colorado has each year. That means patrol cars are out more frequently during the weeks of Spring Break.
However, these patrols are not focused on a single crime. They’re looking for all kinds of crimes and violations, but they tend to focus on the more serious “common” crimes that young adults often engage in – particularly property crimes. Like what, exactly?
Property crimes is a broad category, covering both damage and the unlawful taking of someone else’s possessions. Theft is one of the first property crimes that springs to mind for many people.
In Colorado, theft is the taking control of someone else’s possession of value through deception or without authorization. A crime falls under this umbrella term regardless of the value of the object(s) stolen. Penalties for the crime depend on the amount stolen as well as the surrounding context of the theft.
For example, a theft of less than $50 is considered a Class 1 Petty Offense, one step below a misdemeanor. This crime is punishable by fines up to $500 and six months in jail. Stolen amounts between $50 and $2000 are considered misdemeanors, Class 3 through Class 1. These can be punished by 6-18 months in prison and fines up to $5000. Theft of more than $2000 becomes a felony, and both incarceration time and fines increase dramatically, with maximum fines ranging from $100,000 to $1 million.
Vandalism is another common Spring Break crime. Young people in a new place for a short period of time often seem compelled to leave their mark on the local landscape. However, causing the destruction, defacement, or damage of public or private property is considered vandalism in Colorado. The penalties vary depending on the amount of damage done.
For vandalism that causes less than $1000 in damage, the crime is considered a misdemeanor. Less than $300 in damage is a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and $750 in fines. $300-$750 in damages is a Class 2 misdemeanor, with the potential for a year in jail and $1000 in fines. Finally, a Class 1 vandalism misdemeanor involves damages of $750 to $1000, and can result in 18 months in jail and $5000 in fines. Anything over $1000 in damages is felony vandalism, with longer incarceration time and fines up to $100,000 or more.
Arson is another crime that young people can easily fall into. In particular, fourth degree arson doesn’t require criminal intent – simple recklessness can lead to an arson charge. Fourth degree arson that endangers a person is a Class 4 felony in Colorado, punishable by up to six years in prison. Intending to destroy someone else’s property quickly raises the crime to second degree arson, which is a Class 3 felony punishable by 12 years in prison.
Spring Break is supposed to be a fun, freeing experience for young people. However, it can quickly get out of control, and when more police are out looking for trouble, things can escalate quickly.
Charges for property crimes in Colorado can end Spring Break fun in an instant, but an experienced Colorado criminal attorney can help you or a loved one fight their property crime charges and help you move on with your life.
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.