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In Lafayette, shoplifting at the Wal-Mart Supercenter has become an epidemic, according to the municipal judge. In 2017, the town had 260 cases of shoplifting, as compared with 57 in the previous year. Almost all of the cases were committed at Wal-Mart.
The store’s officials say that they have lost nearly $1 million in profit due to shoplifting in recent years. Two years ago, the store hired a loss prevention officer who has used more aggressive tactics to identify shoplifters.
With this huge jump in arrests and charges, we thought it might be valuable for people to understand what happens if you are charged and you already have a previous shoplifting offense on your record. Many people see shoplifting as a minor crime and a minor offense, but the penalties are anything but after an initial conviction.
Let’s take a look at the law.
Here is the definition of theft under 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, and:
(a) Intends to deprive the other person permanently of the use or benefit of the thing of value;
(b) Knowingly uses, conceals, or abandons the thing of value in such manner as to deprive the other person permanently of its use or benefit;
(c) Uses, conceals, or abandons the thing of value intending that such use, concealment, or abandonment will deprive the other person permanently of its use or benefit;
(d) Demands any consideration to which he or she is not legally entitled as a condition of restoring the thing of value to the other person; or
(e) Knowingly retains the thing of value more than seventy-two hours after the agreed-upon time of return in any lease or hire agreement.”
Shoplifting, of course, is a specific form of theft which is committed against a retailer.
As with other theft crimes, shoplifting is penalized according to the value of the stolen items. Here is an overview of how charges will apply.
Class 2 Misdemeanor
Property value of less than $500
Sentence of three months to one year in jail
Fine of $250 to $1,000
Class 1 Misdemeanor
Property value between $500 and $1,000
Sentence of six months to 18 months in jail
Fine of $500 to $5,000
Class 5 Felony
Sentence of one to three years in prison
Two years of parole
Class 4 Felony
Property value between $1,000 and $20,000
Sentence of two to six years in prison
Three years of parole
Fine of $2,000 to $500,000
Class 3 Felony
Property value of $20,000 or more
Sentence of four to 12 years in prison
Five years of parole
Fine of $3,000 to $750,000
If anyone has already been convicted of felony-level shoplifting in Colorado and has at least two felony shoplifting convictions within four years, the minimum prison sentence will apply. The sentence will not be eligible for suspended sentencing or parole.
Bottom line? Seek help from an experienced Colorado defense attorney if you have previously been convicted. We’ll help you build the strongest possible defense so that you have the best chance at avoiding jail time.
Get in touch today for a free consultation with a knowledgeable shoplifting lawyer who can help protect your rights.
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.