September 29, 2022
When someone is arrested for theft in Colorado, the charge can be classified as a petty theft, a misdemeanor, or a felony. What determines the seriousness of the charge? In most cases it’s pretty simple: the value of the items that were taken.
There are multiple classes of misdemeanor theft charges, but at a certain point these switch over and become felonies. That point is called the “felony theft threshold.” Basically, it’s the point at which the value of the items taken makes the act qualify as a felony.
In this post, we’re going to cover both misdemeanor and felony theft charges, and tell you exactly where that threshold lies. Then we’ll cover specific types of theft that can also net you felony charges.
Petty and Misdemeanor Theft in Colorado
In Colorado, petty and misdemeanor theft charges typically apply to smaller amounts. For instance, if a teenager shoplifts an item from a retail store, it will be charged as a petty theft if the value is under $50, and a misdemeanor if the value is over that – up to a certain point. Misdemeanors have lower sentencing in comparison to felonies and may or may not require jail time.
The threshold that differentiates misdemeanor theft from felony theft under Colorado law is $2,000. If you are accused of a single act of theft involving an item or items worth between $50 and $2,000, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. This could also apply to several different acts of theft of small items, provided they add up to no more than $2,000.
Felony Theft in Colorado
Once a person is accused of stealing more than $2,000, felony charges can apply. If convicted on felony theft charges, a person will face higher fines and longer sentences.
Felony theft charges start at the class 6 level. A conviction translates into up to $100,000 in fines and up to 18 months in jail. However, if any aggravating factors are present, the charges can be increased to the next level.
These aggravating factors include the following:
- Theft of $5,000 or more
- Previous convictions of theft
- Type of stolen property, such as drugs
- Identity theft
- Whether force or coercion was used during the crime (robbery)
- Whether the theft took place in an occupied building or dwelling (burglary)
Felony convictions also come with harsher penalties. Unlike a misdemeanor conviction, a felony theft conviction means you will lose your right to vote, right to bear firearms, and right to apply for certain job licenses. You could also face obstacles when you apply for credit, education, or housing. Quite simply, a felony conviction has a long-lasting, negative impact on your quality of life. To have the best chance of reaching a positive outcome, you’re going to need the help of a knowledgeable Denver criminal attorney.
What are some other acts of theft that can result in felony charges?
Colorado law is especially hard on cases of identity theft. Since a single person can take large amounts of money through the theft of social security numbers, birth dates, credit card numbers, and other information, law enforcement has cracked down on these types of cases.
You can face felony theft charges even if you don’t actually take any money during identity theft, because an attempt is enough to form a charge. If you are convicted of identity theft, you will face the penalties of a class 4 felony charge. These include up to $500,000 in fines and up to six years in a Colorado prison.
Medical Record Theft
Any mishandling of an individual’s medical information could result in a class 6 felony charge. If you disclose medical information or records to an unauthorized person, unlawfully make copies of records, or intentionally exploit medical information, you could face felony charges.
Motor Vehicle Theft
Motor vehicle theft is handled as a unique theft charge under Colorado law. Basic motor vehicle theft starts as a misdemeanor. However, aggravated motor vehicle theft is a class 5 felony for a vehicle with a value of less than $20,000. The charges go up as the value of the vehicle increases.
If you are convicted on a class 5 motor vehicle theft charge, you will face up to $100,000 in fines and up to three years in prison. However, a qualified attorney may be able to help you avoid these charges.
How Colorado Handles Repeated Theft Convictions
Additionally, if you have previous convictions for the same theft crime, your charges could be raised to the felony level even if the previous convictions were for misdemeanors. For example, if you have a class 1 misdemeanor conviction for theft, it can be raised to a class 5 felony charge the second or subsequent time.
Since felony theft charges come with serious penalties, it’s important to consult with a skilled attorney as soon as charges are filed against you. Your lawyer may be able to get your charges reduced to the misdemeanor level or possibly dropped altogether.
He or she may be able to use the following defenses to fight your charges:
- Lack of intent
- Insufficient evidence
- Return of property
- Mental incapacity
Check with an attorney to know the best strategy for avoiding a felony theft conviction in your specific situation.
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.