December 9, 2023
Taking a couple of towels or a pillow from a hotel room may not seem to be a big deal. While it’s true that hotels build losses due to theft into their annual budgets, it’s still a crime to take something from one that doesn’t belong to you.
In Colorado, the penalties you may face from theft are based on the value of the property taken. Here’s what you need to know about theft in Colorado that may give you pause in taking something from a hotel the next time you travel and stay in one.
What is Theft in Colorado?
Colorado statutes on criminal law define theft as when a person knowingly obtains anything of value, whether service or property, without the permission of the owner.
The intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently, knowingly concealing, using, or abandoning property, or demanding payments to which the person is not legally entitled are the key elements of theft under the law.
Classifications of Offenses
As mentioned, the value of the property stolen as well as circumstances of the case has an influence on the charges that could be faced for theft. The different levels of theft under Colorado law include:
Class 2 Misdemeanor Theft
This is when property valued under $500 is stolen and is also known as petty theft. As the lowest theft offense level defined by law, being found guilty of this crime is punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and jail time up to 12 months. (Still quite a bit more than the cost of that robe you’re thinking of taking home.)
Class 1 Misdemeanor Theft
If the value of the property stolen is between $500 and $1,000, then you can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. A conviction of this offense can result in up to 18 months in jail and fines up to $5,000.
Felony theft in Colorado is charged when the value of the articles stolen totals above $2,000. However, courts will take into consideration property stolen over time and lump the value together, which can result in more severe penalties.
Class 6 Felony Theft
A Class 6 felony is charged when the value of the property taken is between $2,000 and $5,000. It is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and fines up to $100,000.
Class 5 Felony Theft
Theft is considered a Class 5 felony in Colorado when the value of the property taken is between $5,000 and $20,000. It is punishable by up to three years in jail and fines up to $100,000.
Class 4 Felony Theft
If you are convicted of the theft of items valued between $20,000 and $100,000, then you can face up to six years in prison and fines up to $500,000.
Collateral Damage of a Theft Conviction
The criminal penalties for theft can be quite severe, but they’re not the only thing you need to worry about if you convicted.
Even after you pay fines and serve jail time, you still have a criminal record that can follow you around for the rest of your life and expungement takes time.
This conviction can endanger your present and future employment and even impact your ability to find housing. That’s why a robust defense is essential.
Defenses for Theft
Mistakes happen and if you feel you have been wrongly charged with theft, then an attorney can help you to mount a defense. Common defenses against theft include:
- Claims that the property was borrowed, not taken
- No threats were made to take the property
- Permission was given to use the property
- You owned the property you were accused of taking
- You accidentally took something
Stealing from a hotel may not seem like a big deal, but if you get caught, it certainly can be.
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.