With the holidays upon us, everyone is out buying gifts for their friends and family. This can be a stressful time of year for anyone, but it’s even more stressful for retailers. As the number of shoppers increases, so does the number of shoplifters.
There are many reasons why someone may shoplift something. Maybe they couldn’t afford the item they took. Maybe their friends pressured them. Maybe it happened by accident. Or maybe they did it as an impulse for the adrenaline rush. Whatever the reason, you need to take your shoplifting charges seriously.
Although shoplifting may seem like a minor offense, the penalties in Colorado can be severe and life-altering. Not only is getting arrested for shoplifting embarrassing, but having a theft conviction on your criminal record could affect your education, current employment, and future career plans.
What is Considered Shoplifting?
Shoplifting falls under the theft statutes in Colorado. According to state law, theft occurs when a person knowingly obtains or exercises control over anything of value that belongs to someone else – without the owner’s permission – intends to permanently deprive the owner of the property, and knowingly uses, conceals, or abandons the property.
In short, theft is the widely used term to refer to crimes that involve taking someone else’s property without their permission. In the case of shoplifting, you’re taking something from a store without paying for it.
But if you read the law carefully, you will also realize that you can be accused of shoplifting without even trying to get out of the store. If you simply hide the merchandise in your pocket or your bag, that could be enough to be accused of shoplifting.
Shoplifting laws also make it illegal to do anything that may alter the price of the item to avoid paying full price. If you change price tags, put merchandise into different packaging or containers, or manipulate the merchandise in any way, you can also be accused of shoplifting.
What are the Penalties for Shoplifting?
Besides hurting the retail store, the severity of shoplifting penalties usually depends on the value of the items that were stolen. You could be charged with a petty offense, misdemeanor, or felony in Colorado once the value of the goods is determined.
Petty Offense Shoplifting
A class 1 petty offense for shoplifting involves an item that is valued at less than $50. A petty offense is punishable with a fine and up to 6 months in jail.
- A class 3 misdemeanor involves an item that is valued at $50 or more but less than $300. A class 3 misdemeanor is punishable with a fine and up to 6 months in jail.
- A class 2 misdemeanor involves an item that is valued at $300 or more but less than $750. A class 2 misdemeanor is punishable with a $1,000 fine and up to 12 months in jail.
- A class 1 misdemeanor involves an item that is valued at $750 or more but less than $2,000. A class 1 misdemeanor is punishable with a $5,000 fine and up to 18 months in jail.
- A class 6 felony involves an item that is valued at $2,000 or more but less than $5,000. A class 6 felony is punishable with a fine and 12 to 18 months in jail.
- A class 5 felony involves an item that is valued at $5,000 or more but less than $20,000. A class 5 felony is punishable with a fine and 1 to 3 years in jail.
- A class 4 felony involves an item that is valued at $20,000 or more but less than $100,000. A class 4 felony is punishable with a fine and 2 to 6 years in jail.
- A class 3 felony involves an item that is valued at $100,000 or more but less than $1,000,000. A class 3 felony is punishable with a fine and 4 to 12 years in jail
- A class 2 felony involves an item that is valued at $1,000,000 or more. A class 5 felony is punishable with up to a million dollar fine and 8 to 24 years in jail.
If you have been arrested for shoplifting, you should contact a Colorado shoplifting lawyer with a track record of success in this area to help with your case. Being caught walking out of a store without paying for merchandise may seem like a helpless situation, but the specific facts and circumstances of your case could allow for a dismissal or a reduction in charges. Face those shoplifting charges head on with an experienced defense attorney who knows the nuances of Colorado’s theft and shoplifting laws.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.