September 29, 2022
When your friend shares their Netflix account with you, your first thought probably isn’t that what you’re doing is illegal. After all, it’s just the sharing of a password on a streaming service, how bad could it be?
It turns out that sharing streaming service account information with friends and family isn’t unusual, but it is technically legal.
According to internal streaming service polls, 12 percent of people who use the streaming service aren’t paying for it and it’s costing streaming companies a fortune every year.
The laws surrounding property crimes, such as cable theft, are rather vague and usually aren’t enforced – but they could be. So how much trouble could you be in for watching all the seasons of the Great British Baking Show on your friend’s account? Read on to find out.
Colorado Theft and Property Laws
Though theft also often done without the permission or even knowledge of the owner of the service or property, even having permission doesn’t clear you in every case.
If you knowingly exercise control over or obtain something of value in Colorado, such as services or property, that belongs to someone else, then it is enforceably a theft crime.
Theft is considered a property crime, even when non-violent in nature. You can probably think of a handful of examples all on your own. Here are some of the most common:
- Motor vehicle theft
- Theft of a public transportation service
- Theft of trade secrets
- Theft of sound recordings
- Theft of medical records
- Theft by resale or a ski lift coupon or ticket
- Theft of cable television services
There are generally three kinds of theft covered under Colorado law, and these crimes can either be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. Learn more about the classifications of theft below.
Classifications of Theft
In Colorado, theft is classified as either a felony or a misdemeanor crime, and which classification is charged depends on the value of what is stolen.
Petty and Misdemeanor Theft
In Colorado, there are four levels of petty and misdemeanor theft. They are:
- Class 1 petty offense – This occurs when the services or property stolen are worth less than $50. It can be punished by up to six months in jail and fines of $500.
- Class 3 misdemeanor – This is charged if property or service taken is worth between $50 and $300. It is punishable by up to six months in jail and fines of as much as $750.
- Class 2 misdemeanor – For services or property valued between $300 and $750, this is punishable by up to one year in prison and fines of $1,000.
- Class 1 misdemeanor – For services or property valued between $750 and $2,000, this level can result in up to 18 months in jail and fines of as much as $5,000.
Felony theft can range from a Class 6 to a Class 2 felony. Just as with misdemeanors, it is based on the value of the property or services stolen and can result in quite hefty fines and prison sentences. It can range from 18 months in prison and fines of $100,000 for a Class 6 felony to as much as 24 years behind bars and fines of over $1 million.
What About Streaming Services
Technically, using your friend’s streaming service information is a Class 2 misdemeanor. That means that if the law is enforced by the streaming services, that all those hours of baking shows or reruns could cost you — a lot.
You could spend as much as one year in jail and wind up responsible for fines for as much as $1,000. So, depending on how tight your relationship is, you may want to think twice about using your friend’s information and fork over the $7-12 per month for your own account.
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.