September 28, 2023
Two car thieves could face increased charges for allegedly injuring a man who tried to stop them in the act. What happened?
A man was sitting outside his home in the Colorado Springs area when two individuals allegedly entered his garage to steal his vehicle. When the two individuals reportedly started to drive the vehicle away, the owner jumped on the back to try to stop the theft. He was dragged for a few hundred yards before falling off and taken to a hospital with injuries.
Even though it was the man’s decision to leap onto his moving vehicle, the fact that he was injured in the commission of the act likely means that the two thieves will be charged for his injuries in addition to the theft of the car.
Below, we’re going to cover how Colorado laws punish those accused of motor vehicle theft in more detail.
Auto Theft Laws in Colorado
Colorado’s laws are tough on people who try to steal vehicles. The law applies to all different types of vehicles that are powered by anything other than muscle power, except vehicles that run on rails.
If an individual knowingly obtains or controls someone else’s motor vehicle without permission or by deception or threat, the charge of second degree motor vehicle theft can apply.
The charge can be raised to first degree motor vehicle theft if any of the following situations apply:
- Committing a crime while using the vehicle
- Causing at least $500 in property damage
- Causing another person to experience bodily injury
- Making attempts to disguise or alter the vehicle
- Possessing or controlling the vehicle for over 24 hours
- Displaying or attaching another license plate on the vehicle
- Removing or altering the vehicle identification number
- Relocating the vehicle out of state for at least 12 hours
If the two individuals described in the news story are apprehended for theft, they could face first degree motor vehicle theft charges because their attempt to steal a vehicle caused bodily injury to the owner.
Since vehicles can be moved during a theft, the laws in Colorado require an offender to be tried for the crime of auto theft in the jurisdiction where the original act of theft occurred.
Penalties for Motor Vehicle Theft in Colorado
The penalties for motor vehicle theft crimes generally depend on the value of the vehicle and whether the offender has any prior convictions.
Second Degree Motor Vehicle Theft
A Class 1 misdemeanor will apply if the vehicle is valued at less than $1,000. If convicted, the offender will be sentenced to up to 1.5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
A Class 6 felony will apply if the vehicle is valued between $1,000 and $20,000. If convicted, the offender will be sentenced to up to 1.5 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.
A Class 5 felony will apply if the vehicle is valued at less than $20,000. If convicted, the offender will be sentenced to up to three years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.
A Class 4 felony will apply if the vehicle is valued between $20,000 and $100,000. If convicted, the offender will be sentenced to up to six years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines.
A Class 3 felony will apply if the vehicle is valued at over $100,000. It will also apply if the offender has two or more prior motor vehicle theft convictions. If convicted, the offender will be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison and up to $750,000 in fines.
Defenses to Auto Theft Charges in Colorado
These are the most common defenses your attorney may use to get your charges reduced or dropped.
You had to steal the vehicle because the plaintiff was threatening you with imminent harm.
If you are a law enforcement officer, you have the right to overtake a vehicle under certain circumstances.
If a more serious crime would have occurred unless you stole the vehicle, you may be able to use this defense.
Someone else threatened to harm you or a loved one unless you stole the vehicle.
A government official coerced you into committing the theft.
You may be able to use this if you have proof of a mental condition.
Seek Help from a Colorado Auto Theft Attorney
If you have been charged with auto theft or another type of theft where someone was injured in the commission of the act, the penalties you face are incredibly serious. The statute may not care what your intentions were or that you had never hurt anyone before, but those are things that may help to reduce the penalties you face as part of a strong defense strategy.
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.