Common Defenses against Colorado Theft Charges

Have you been charged with theft in the greater Denver area? Theft in Colorado is a very serious crime, one that can result in prison or jail time, probation, fines, restitution, community service, or even house arrest depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident.

In particular, the actual sentence you face will vary based on the value of what was allegedly stolen:

  • Under $50 – results in a petty offense (up to 6 months, plus fines)
  • $50 to $300 – results in a Class 3 Misdemeanor (up to 6 months, up to $1,000 in fines)
  • $300 to $750 – is a Class 2 Misdemeanor (up to 1 year, $1,000 in fines)
  • $750 to $2000 – is a Class 1 Misdemeanor (1.5 years, $5,000 in fines)
  • $2,000 to $5,000 – is a Class 6 Felony (1 to 1.5 years, plus fines)
  • $5,000 to $20,000 – is a Class 5 Felony (1 to 3 years, plus fines)
  • $20,000 to $100,000 – is a Class 4 Felony (2 to 6 years, plus fines)
  • $100,000 to $1,000,000 – is a Class 3 Felony (4 to 12 years, plus fines)
  • $1,000,000 or more – is a Class 2 Felony (8 to 24 years)

Area law enforcement officials want to show that they are tough on theft crimes to discourage them, and they will not hesitate to try to saddle you with the highest possible charges allowed. But even if you feel like there is a strong case against you, that does not mean that you should give up hope. A good theft defense attorney will know a number of different possible defenses that you may be able to use depending on your situation. Below we are going to briefly describe a few of these.

No specific intent. The intent to steal is the biggest reason you will be found guilty of theft. If you have no intent to remove someone’s property (steal from them), you can argue against “specific intent.” This is the most common defense, especially if you can provide evidence (or simply a strong argument) that you had intent to return the item (i.e. “I just borrowed it”).

Denver Theft Lawyer

Under the influence. If you claim that you were under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or even coercion by peer pressure, a defense attorney may be able to use that as part of your defense strategy. Often times, mistakes are made when we’re “not quite ourselves,” and this argument can be used to bolster your case. In some situations, a theft lawyer may be able to use it in conjunction with the assertion that you didn’t really intend to steal the item in question. 

Confusion of ownership. Did you mistakenly take something that you thought was yours? Did you believe the item or possession to be rightfully yours (i.e. after a breakup, from a shared living space, etc.)? Sometimes, defending yourself by explaining the mix-up is the best way to resolve the charges.

Trickery or deception. Many people accused of theft use this defense when they were not informed that the property they were purchasing, transporting, or in possession of was originally stolen. Many defendants also argue that they were framed, or deceived, into stealing an item unknowingly, and without intent to actually steal property.

If you have been arrested or charged with theft in Colorado, the best thing you can do is seek out a defense attorney with a successful track record in overturning your specific charges.

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.