February 2, 2023
Around the country, there have been many unintended side effects as a result of the COVID-19 virus. Law enforcement has been reporting everything from increased domestic violence to rising suicide numbers.
One other effect the virus seems to be having is that some people have become emboldened in carrying out criminal activities. One example was a case in Connecticut that involved a couple using masks and gloves to carry out criminal acts, including retail theft.
The numbers of these crimes are rising in states around the country. Especially now that lockdowns are beginning to ease up and state governments are only requiring people to wear masks in public.
Under these conditions, the opportunities for theft are plentiful. Don’t let Colorado mask orders tempt you! It’s essential to understand the laws surrounding retail theft in Colorado and what potential penalties for doing so are.
What Is Retail Theft in Colorado?
There are three primary laws in Colorado’s statutes dealing with retail theft. The first of these is the actual theft of property, the second of these laws deal with the concealment of goods, and the third law deals with the use of a theft detection device.
How Colorado Law Defines Retail Theft
In the state of Colorado, shoplifting and all other theft-related offenses fall under the general theft statute. According to Colorado law, a person commits theft when:
“He or she knowingly obtains, retains, or exercises control over anything of value of another without authorization or by threat or deception; or receives, loans money by pawn or pledge on, or disposes of anything of value or belonging to another that he or she knows or believes to have been stolen.”
When You Haven’t Necessarily Stolen Anything Yet
Another component is the concealment of goods. The Revised Statutes defines the concealment of goods as when “an individual willfully conceals unpurchased goods or merchandise…such concealment is sufficient to show a rebuttable presumption that the individual intended to commit the crime of theft.”
To the point, when you have hidden goods on your person without paying for them, it demonstrates to the courts intent to commit the crime of general theft.
What the Law Says about Anti-theft Devices
Finally, for the crime of unlawful acts – theft detection device, the Colorado Revised Assets states that:
- “It is unlawful for any person to possess a theft detection shielding device or a theft detection deactivating device with the intent to use the device possessed, or with the knowledge that some person intends to use the device possessed, in the commission of an offense involving theft.
- It is unlawful for any person to knowingly deactivate or remove a theft detection device or any component thereof in any store or mercantile establishment without authorization prior to purchase.”
Penalties for Colorado Retail Theft
The penalties for retail theft in Colorado vary depending on the value of the merchandise stolen. For the above three listed crimes, general theft and concealment fall under the same penalties. Concealment is proof to show general theft.
Typical Sentencing for General Theft Convictions
Following is the breakdown of penalties by stolen property value ranges. You’ll find that once values exceed $5,000 you’re looking at significant jail time.
- Property Values Under $50: 6 months in jail and fines not to exceed $500
- Property Values $50-$299: 6 months in jail and fines up to $750
- Property Values $300-$749: 1 year in jail and fines up to $1,000
- Property Values $750-$1,999: 5 years in jail and fines up to $5,000
- Property Values $2,000-$4,999:5 years in jail plus fines up to $100,000
- Property Values $5,000-$19,000: 3 years in jail and fines up to $100,000
- Property Values $20,000-$99,999: 6 years in jail and fines up to $500,000
- Property Values $100,000-$1 million: 12 years in prison and fines up to $750,000
- Property over $1 million: 24 years in prison and fines up to $1 million
Penalties for Crimes Involving Anti-theft Devices
Committing an unlawful act involving a theft detection device is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. This classification carries a jail sentence ranging from 6 to 18 months upon conviction and can leave you footing a bill between $500 and $5,000 in fines.
Retail theft is a severe crime in Colorado. The penalties can be quite harsh with heavy jail sentences and steep fines. Even with masks, it is essential to remember that people are still being caught. A mask may conceal your face from people in the streets, but it probably won’t be enough to hide your face from cameras and police.
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 recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020, and is Lead Counsel rated.