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Theft of Trade Secrets

Everyone knows it’s illegal to steal property or services from another person. However, did you know you could be criminally charged for “stealing” important information? Colorado refers to this crime as theft of trade secrets, which can result in serious penalties depending on the circumstances of the crime.

The term trade secret can be defined as any scientific, technical, professional or business information that is a secret and has value. For example, if you’re an employee of a multimillion-dollar business and sell the company’s secret to their success, you could be charged with theft of trade secrets. You will then be required to face serious penalties including expensive thousand-dollar fines and time behind bars.

If you or someone you know has been charged with theft of trade secrets, it’s imperative you gain trusted legal representation.

Theft of Trade Secrets Attorney in Colorado Springs, CO

Stealing or selling vital business information could lead to criminal charges. You may be charged with theft of trade secrets and face severe penalties including jail or prison time. If you or someone you know has been arrested for theft of trade secrets, it’s vital you hire legal counsel.

The attorneys at Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC have a strong focus in criminal defense, especially theft-related cases. We will utilize every resource and skill we’ve gained over our years of practice to help you. Call us now at (719) 328-1616 to set up a consultation. Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC represents people throughout the greater Colorado Springs area including Manitou Springs, Calhan and Fountain.

Overview of Theft of Trade Secrets in CO


What is Theft of Trade Secrets Under Colorado Law?

Theft of trade secrets is a serious charge under Colorado law. However, you can’t be charged with theft of trade secrets for stealing any kind of business, scientific, or professional information. The prosecution must prove several “elements of the crime” to prove beyond a reasonable doubt you’re guilty of stealing trade secrets. These include:

  • You must have intended to
    • Deprive the rightful owner control of a trade secret; or
    • Appropriate the trade secret for your own benefit;
  • To be convicted, you then must have:
    • Stolen the secret or disclosed it to an unauthorized person; or
    • Made a copy or an article representing the trade secret without authorization
  • The information stolen must have been a secret and of value; and
  • The trade secret’s owner must have taken significant measures to prevent the secret from being disclosed to the public or any other persons that aren’t authorized to have access to it

The term “article” refers to any kind of writing, including electronic such, as making copies, sending a facsimile, scans, emails and other types of written instruments.  To be found guilty, the secret must relate to a product or service used in or intended to use for interstate or foreign commerce. You must also have intended to injure the rightful owner by disclosing or stealing the trade secret.


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What is a Trade Secret?

A trade secret is more than simple business, scientific, or professional information. It’s any type of information relating to a business or professional that is a secret and has value. Information is only considered a trade secret if the owner took measures to prevent the secret from being disclosed. A trade secret can include, but is not limited to:

  • Consumer surveys;
  • Designs for unreleased products;
  • Accounting records;
  • Formulas or recipes for food or drinks;
  • Testing results for new products;
  • Customer listing of names;
  • Upcoming business plans; and
  • Banking information

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Colorado Penalties for Stealing Trade Secrets

The penalties for theft of trade secrets depend on your criminal history. A first-time offense is a class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by:

  • Up to 18 months in jail; and
  • A fine of up to $5,000

A second or subsequent theft of trade secrets offense within 5 years of the first will enhance to the penalties to a class 5 felony. The consequences associated with a class 5 felony include:

  • Up to 3 years in prison; and
  • A fine of up to $100,000

Included in the sentencing is a two-year mandatory parole after release. It’s important to know that trading theft secrets is also considered a federal offense. The penalties for stealing trade secrets can be found under 18 U.S.C. 1832, which states you could face:

  • Up to 10 years in a federal prison; and
  • A fine of up to $250,000 or twice of what you gained or the owner’s losses because you stole their trade secret

Understand that many theft of trade secret cases also end in a civil suit. The owner of the trade secret may choose to file a claim for damages they suffered because of the crime. This means you could also be required to pay a monetary settlement on top of the statutory penalties.


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Additional Resources

Colorado Courts at a Glance – Visit the official website of the Colorado Department of Education to access a court guide published by the Colorado Judicial Branch. Access the document to learn about the different criminal courts, your rights as a defendant, how the jury system works, and the stages of a criminal trial.

Theft of Trade Secrets – Visit the official website of the Colorado Revised Statutes to learn more about their theft offenses. Access their laws to learn the penalties for theft of trade secrets and other offenses such as theft of medical records, aggravated motor theft and more.


Defense Lawyer for Theft of Trade Secrets in El Paso County, CO

If you or someone you know has been charged with stealing trade secrets, it’s crucial you have a strong defense. Contact Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC to start on your defense plans today. Our defense attorneys can assess your case and uncover all your available legal options. Tackle your charges today by calling us at (719) 328-1616.

The attorneys at Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC represent people throughout El Paso County and surrounding counties including Denver County and Arapahoe County.


 

Law Offices of Clifton Black, P.C.