What Could Happen to Colorado’s “Merry Christmas” Bank Robber?

A bank robbery over the holiday in Colorado Springs took an unexpected twist when the suspect, an older man with a white beard, allegedly put a Christmas spin on the offense.

The defendant allegedly entered the bank and robbed it using a weapon to threaten tellers. He then proceeded to leave the bank, throw the money on the sidewalk, and yell “Merry Christmas!”

Yes, you read that right.

Robbery’s Still a Crime in CO, Even When…Your Heart’s in the Right Place?

Bystanders picked up the cash and returned it to the bank tellers while the suspect allegedly walked next door to a coffee shop to wait for the police to arrive. They took him into custody.

Despite this unusual act of seeming generosity, the defendant used a weapon in committing a robbery, so he faces a felony-level aggravated robbery charge punishable by up to 12 years in prison if he is convicted.

While theft is a property crime and is often a misdemeanor, robbery is a violent crime, and is always a felony, potentially punishable by decades in prison.

Clearly, robbery charges are nothing to mess around with. Perhaps this robber wasn’t aware of the difference between theft and robbery? Or such steep consequences? We’d love to hear his motivation.

Colorado Theft or Robbery? The Line is Thinner Than You Think

As a rule, theft involves taking the property of another, and usually occurs when the property’s owner is not present. However, Class 3 felony theft can involve taking property directly from the person of the owner without the use or threat of force.

When Pickpocketing Turns to Aggravated Robbery

Legally, the line is a thin one. For example, you need not make any physical contact with the victim or use an actual weapon for the offense to be considered robbery.

For example, say you intend to take the victim’s wallet from his back pocket without his noticing, commonly known as pickpocketing. Just as you’re sliding the wallet out of his pocket, he notices what’s happening, and turns around to confront you.

Startled, you pretend to have a gun in your pocket to intimidate him, and he hands over the wallet and runs. Just like that, you’re facing an aggravated robbery charge, even though you didn’t plan to threaten the victim or use any kind of force.

Other Acts That Make Theft a Robbery

Other acts that could potentially cross the line into robbery include:

  • Using a deadly weapon, or pretending to have a deadly weapon, to threaten the victim
  • Verbal threats used to subdue the victim
  • Any physical contact with the victim, for example, grabbing the victim’s arm
  • Forcefully grabbing an object from the victim – for example, a purse

Robbery Sentencing and Penalties in Colorado

Robbery is always a felony and can garner 2-24 years in prison, depending on the circumstances of the offense.

Simple robbery, in which no aggravating factors are present, is a Class 4 felony punishable by up to six years behind bars.

Aggravating Factors in a Robbery

Any of the following factors make a robbery aggravated:

  • Being armed with a deadly weapon
  • Stating that you are armed with a deadly weapon
  • Knowingly wounding or striking anyone
  • Putting anyone in reasonable fear of death or robbery

Aggravated robbery is a Class 3 felony punishable by up to 12 years in prison.

Robbery of a Controlled Substance

If you’re attempting to steal a controlled substance, your charge will be elevated to a Class 2 felony, punishable by up to 24 years in prison.

Colorado Robbery Lawyer

When one relatively short-sighted decision can amount to years (or decades in prison), it’s an understatement to say robbery charges are nothing to mess around with. When you do find yourself in an unfortunate situation like this, it is imperative you act fast to build a strong defense.


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.