Understand the Penalties Associated with Looting in Colorado

In our state, you won’t find a looting law on the books. In fact, only a handful of other states have actual, specific looting laws.

Here, if you are found looting, other charges like theft, burglary, or robbery will apply. Read more to learn about these charges and their penalties.


Theft is when an individual knowingly takes something of value without another’s permission. Even if they did not take the item of value themselves, but received or accepted stolen goods, theft charges may apply.

Under Colorado law, theft occurs when an individual has intent to permanently retain the thing of value. Theft charges will apply if the individual holds onto the item longer than 72 hours after the time of return based on mutual agreement, or if they make illegal demands or conditions to restore the item to the original owner.

The punishment for theft is based on the value of the stolen property. Here is a list of charges associated with stolen property based on value.

Class 1 petty offense: less than $50.00

Class 3 misdemeanor: $50.00 – $299.99

Class 2 misdemeanor: $300.00 – $749.99

Class 1 misdemeanor: $750.00-$1,999.99

Class 6 felony: $2,000.00 – $4,999.99

Class 5 felony: $5,000.00 – $19,999.99

Class 4 felony: $20,0000.00 – $99,999.99

Class 3 felony: $100,000.00 – $999,999.99

Class 2 felony: $1 million or more

If an individual commits theft two or more times in a six-month period, the sentencing may be aggregated and the penalties will apply for the total amount. For example, two thefts of $200.00 each will be combined into a Class 2 misdemeanor charge, rather than left as two separate Class 3 misdemeanor charges.


Burglary is defined as unlawful entry into a structure with an intent to commit a crime inside. Burglary does not necessarily involve theft. It may involve an intent to commit assault or damage property. Under Colorado law, you can be charged with burglary for possessing burglary tools.

Third degree burglary involves money depositories such as cash registers, safes, and vaults. This is a Class 5 felony punishable with up to three years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

Second degree burglary involves the intent to commit a crime against another person or property. This is a Class 4 felony punishable with up to six years in prison and a maximum of $500,000 in fines.

First degree burglary involves assault against another person or the use of deadly weapons. This is a Class 3 felony punishable with up to 12 years in prison and a maximum of $750,000 in fines.


The Colorado statutes define robbery as theft by use of force, threats, or intimidation. Robbery is a Class 4 felony charge.

Denver Looting Attorney

Looting often occurs during or after natural disasters. Depending on the value of the goods that were looted, you may face serious and long-lasting consequences, including prison time. Whether you are facing charges of theft, burglary, or robbery, related to looting, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

A skilled Denver criminal attorney can help you build a defense with these possible options:

  • Lack of intent
  • Justification—life or death situation
  • Duress
  • Entrapment
  • Involuntary action due to intoxication
  • Impaired mental capability or insanity

It’s important to reach out for legal help as soon as your charges are filed, because the sooner you start working with a knowledgeable lawyer, the better your chances at obtaining a positive outcome. Schedule your free initial consultation today.


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.