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Theft Of Property

Theft Of Property

Theft is defined as a wide range of crimes involving the purposeful or fraudulent taking of another person’s personal property without that person’s consent and with the intent to keep it. Theft crimes include everything from grand theft auto and embezzlement to identity theft and possession of stolen goods.

The crimes of robbery, burglary, and theft are often lumped together. While robbery and burglary can both involve elements of theft, they also both involve additional criminal acts that distinguish them from theft.

Colorado Theft of Property Lawyers

If you have been arrested for theft of property in Colorado, contact Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC. Our criminal defense attorneys know dealing with theft charges can be overwhelming. We will try our absolute best to alleviate as much of your stress and assist you with any legal needs or questions you may have.

Call Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC at (719) 328-1616 to arrange a confidential consultation as soon as possible. Our lawyers are ready to form a personalized and aggressive defense for your case.

Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC serves clients in El Paso County, CO, and throughout the greater Denver metropolitan area including Jefferson County, Douglas County, Adams County, Arapahoe County, Boulder County, and Broomfield County.

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Information Center

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What Acts Constitute Theft?

Someone commits theft in Colorado by doing any of the following:

  • Obtaining or exercising control over something valuable that they do not own
  • Threatening or misleading the owner of something of value with the intent to take it away
  • Using, hiding, or transferring the property to prevent the owner from ever receiving its benefits

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Examples of Theft

Theft By Receiving

Just as it sounds, theft by receiving is accepting something that has been stolen. The fact that a defendant was unaware that the items had been stolen may be a defense to charges of theft by receiving. The potential sentences for theft by receiving are the same as those for theft and depend on the amount taken.

Rental Property Theft

This type of theft is defined as the failure to return rented property within 72 hours of the agreed-upon return date. The same monetary values are used.

Misdemeanor Theft

When someone steals another person’s possessions worth $300 to less than $2,000, it is considered misdemeanor theft (also known as larceny) under Colorado law.

Although shoplifting is one of the most frequent forms of larceny, many other situations fall under the definition of theft in Colorado Revised Statutes section 18-4-401. (CRS). These consist of:

  • Stealing another person’s property while pretending to borrow it and not intending to return it
  • Taking another person’s property through deception, such as by making a promise to pay for a good or service but never doing so
  • Taking a loan and purposely not paying it back within 72 hours of the scheduled return date

A person may be found guilty of stealing property they jointly own if they do not obtain consent from the co-owner before taking it or using it.

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Penalties For Misdemeanor Theft

The penalties for misdemeanor theft in Colorado include restitution to the victim, probation, fines, or jail time. The punishment is classified by the value of the amount stolen. If the theft involved less than $50 in value, it is considered a Petty Offense, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

A Class 3 Misdemeanor is defined as theft with a value of between $50 and $300, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $750. If the theft involved property worth $300 to $750, it would be considered a Class 2 Misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000. Theft of property with a value of $750 to $2,000 is classified as a Class 1 Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1.5 years in jail and $5,000 in fines.

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Felony Theft Of Property

Theft is classified as a felony if property valued at $2000 or more is stolen. A conviction carries sentences of one to 24 years in prison and fines of up to $1,000,000.

A theft that involves a value of between $2,000 and $5,000 is classified as a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to 1.5 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

If the theft involved a value of between $2,000 and $20,000, it would be considered a Class 5 felony, punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Thefts of items with a value between $20,000 and $100,000 are classified as Class 4 felonies, punishable by up to 6 years in prison and a fine of $500,000.

If the theft involves a value of between $100,000 and $1,000,000, it is a Class 3 felony punishable by up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.

If the theft involves more than $1,000,000 in value, it is a Class 2 felony punishable by up to 24 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000.

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Proving The Value Of Property

The value of the items taken determines the level of misdemeanor, felony, or even petty offense charged under Colorado law. The prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt the value of the items stolen at trial. Criminal Code § 18-4-414 serves as the basis for demonstrating that element.

Evidence of the retail value of the item involved in a theft from a store is prima facie proof of the item’s value. Affixed labels and tags, signs, shelf tags, and notices are examples of evidence that can be offered to demonstrate retail value but are not required to do so.

The state legislature of Colorado has decided that a price tag placed on an item for sale is reliable evidence of the item’s value. The right to “rebut the presumption of value” allows the defendant to establish a value different from what is indicated on the price tag by calling the store manager or another witness. Typically, the store’s loss prevention officer will testify during the trial that the price tags determine the value of the goods the defendant attempted to steal.

Kelley Blue Book is yet another approach. Kelly Blue Book can be used to establish an item’s value during a trial without needing expert testimony. The blue book represents the selling price of comparable items, and valuations based on it are admissible as evidence of value in court.

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Possible Defenses

All defense theories are based on the criminal defense attorney’s obligation to hold the prosecution accountable for meeting their burden of proof, which is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. A general denial defense indicates that the defendant wants to place a weighty “burden of proof” on the prosecution.

Some possible defenses include:

  • Relationship defenses. This defense focuses on the “give and take” nature of certain relationships, including between roommates, boyfriends and girlfriends, parents and children, and couples who were once married. Was the item a gift? The accuser’s credibility also plays a role in determining whether there will be theft charges.
  • State of mind. This defense could focus on whether the defendant believes the property belongs to one person (who has given permission for the transfer) when, in fact, it belongs to a different person. The intent is a necessary element of theft.
  • Mistake of fact. When a person mistakenly places an item in their pocket while distracted or believes they have paid for it, mistake of fact defenses may be applicable (especially in shoplifting cases).
  • Police misconduct. According to Colorado law, police must adhere to strict guidelines when conducting searches and seizures. The defendant might have legal recourse if law enforcement went too far by failing to obtain a search warrant in Colorado or by not having a valid reason to search without one.

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Additional Resources

Colorado Revised Statutes – Access the official website for the Colorado Revised Statutes which provides precise information on state laws governing theft of property crimes. You can see legal definitions for each crime and their maximum punishments.

Colorado Judicial Branch – Access the official website for the Colorado Judicial Branch which provides information on adult pretrial diversion programs.

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Colorado Springs Theft of Property Attorneys | El Paso County, CO

Have you been arrested for theft in Colorado? If so, it is important you speak to a qualified theft defense attorney today to begin defending your rights. Being charged with theft can be embarrassing and, if convicted, life-changing.

At Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers have helped hundreds of individuals obtain a reduction or dismissal of theft charges. We can utilize our years of experience and extensive knowledge to protect your rights. Call (719) 328-1616 today to secure a consultation.

Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC has offices in Denver and Colorado Springs, CO.

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Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC