September 28, 2023
Property crimes are taken very seriously in Colorado, as they often have devastating consequences for the victim(s) and/or property owner.
Fortunately, Denver has recently enjoyed a decrease in property crimes. As of this writing, the city has averaged 1917 property crimes per month in 2018, a substantial decrease from last year’s average of 2131 property crimes per month.
Local law enforcement often pays special attention to crimes that are widespread or on the rise, which might lead you to believe that they will not put as much focus on property crimes with the downturn.
This may be true. Resources might be shifted elsewhere. However, this does not mean that law enforcement will stop prosecuting property crimes to the full extent of the law when someone is caught and charged.
What kind of consequences might you be looking at? That depends on the property crime in question and the specific circumstances surrounding the act.
Arson is the crime of intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly setting fire to or using an explosive to damage or destroy your own property, or damage or destroy the property of another party without that party’s consent.
Due to the threat to potential occupants of the damaged structures and high-profile nature of arson offenses, this crime is severely punished. Depending on the type of property or structure burned, occupancy of the structure, intent and extent of the damage, arson charges can range from misdemeanor to felony-level offenses.
The consequences for arson range from one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,500 for misdemeanor-level offenses to up to 32 years in prison and tens of thousands in fines for the most serious felony-level offenses.
Although the crime of burglary is typically associated with theft, under Colorado law, burglary only needs to incorporate the knowing unlawful entry into a structure with the intent to commit a crime once inside. The crime does not necessarily need to be theft. For example, a burglar may break in with the intent to vandalize or destroy something inside, or to assault someone.
There are three degrees of burglary in Colorado depending on the type of structure entered, what crimes were intended once inside, whether the crimes took place, and whether weapons were used. Further, the possession of burglary tools has also been criminalized in Colorado.
The following penalties apply to burglary:
- First-degree burglary: Class 3 felony punishable by up to 12 years in prison and up to $750,000 in fines.
- Second-degree burglary: Class 4 felony punishable by to six years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines. It may be charged as a Class 3 felony if the unlawfully entered structure was a dwelling or the defendant intended to steal controlled substances.
- Third-degree burglary: Class 5 felony punishable by up to three years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. It may be charged as a Class 4 felony if the intent was to steal controlled substances.
Robbery is an act of theft involving force or threats of force. Under Colorado law, the theft can involve anything of value, and the theft must occur from the person or presence of another. Put into simple terms, the victim must be present for theft to be charged as robbery.
Certain aggravating factors elevate the charge of robbery to aggravated robbery. These include:
- Defendant is armed with a deadly weapon, or an article that the victim could reasonably believe is a deadly weapon (e.g. a fake gun)
- The defendant knowingly wounds or strikes a victim, or puts the victim in reasonable fear of death or injury
Depending on the presence of aggravating factors and whether the defendant was attempting to steal a controlled substance, robbery is charged as a Class 2, 3 or 4 felony punishable by 6-24 years in prison and $500,000-$1,000,000 in fines.
Theft is broadly defined under Colorado law, as it incorporates not only simple theft (or larceny), but also the crimes of shoplifting, embezzlement, and false pretenses. Under Colorado law, theft is defined as knowingly taking anything of value without authorization and with the intent to permanently deprive its owner of that thing.
However, Colorado theft laws can also apply for knowingly receiving stolen property, or for knowingly selling stolen property.
Depending on the value of the property in question, theft charges range from a Class 1 petty offense (less than $50) to a Class 2 felony (over $1 million). Punishment ranges from 6 months-24 years in jail and $500-$1,000,000 in fines.
If You are Facing Colorado Property Crime Charges
Property crime charges in Denver have severe criminal consequences. For a serious offense such as this, you need a serious attorney, who will work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
To fight back against property crime charges and protect your rights, be proactive by retaining a skilled and experienced Denver Criminal Defense Attorney.
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.