Many people regard taking property that is not yours as theft, but the truth is that how something gets stolen makes a difference in the eyes of the law. That’s why Colorado law differentiates between burglary, robbery, and theft – because stealing is simply the underlying action these distinct crimes have in common.
The charges of burglary depend on the severity of the crime. The charges rely primarily on what gets taken. Therein lies the distinction between these crimes. Individuals living in Colorado should be aware of this to understand what types of criminal charges they can face. The truth is, it’s a lot more complicated than many people understand.
Burglary in Colorado
When most people think of a burglary, they imagine a stranger in a ski mask breaking into a home to steal something. This crime can undoubtedly land a person in Colorado with burglary charges. Simply entering someone else’s property without their consent with the intent to commit a crime, such as arson, vandalism, or assault, can result in burglary charges. There doesn’t need to be the intent to steal something at all.
Burglary in Colorado is simply the act of entering another person’s property intending to perpetrate a crime, and there are three degrees of it in the state.
This is considered a Class 3 felony in Colorado and the most severe burglary charge a person can face in the state. It occurs when someone knowingly breaks into or remains unlawfully in an occupied structure or building to commit an assault or menace the person, mainly if it involves a deadly weapon.
This is a Class 4 felony with the same elements as first-degree burglary but without the intent to commit an assault or menace through a deadly weapon.
A Class 5 felony, this level of burglary involves breaking into or entering a vault, safe, coin vending machine, money depository, cash register, or safety deposit box to commit a crime.
Robbery in Colorado
When you use threats, intimidation, or force to take someone’s property without their consent, you have committed a robbery in Colorado.
However, Colorado has two distinct offenses that involve robbery.
Occurs when someone uses threats, intimidation, or force to commit a crime. A Class 4 felony that is punishable by as much as six years of imprisonment.
Aggravated robbery occurs when someone commits robbery but with a deadly weapon – or the threat to use one. It’s vital to point out that, even if you don’t have a deadly weapon but simply lead someone to believe that you do, you can still face aggravated robbery charges in the state.
Aggravated robbery is not only a Class 3 felony but is also considered a crime of extraordinary risk. That means you can face enhanced sentencing if guilty, spending as many as 16 years behind bars.
If you obtain, exercise control over, or retain through deception or threaten another person’s property without their authorization, you have committed theft. You also must intend to deprive the rightful owner of their property permanently.
Theft charges are wide-ranging in Colorado. They can be misdemeanors, or they can be felonies. The specific circumstances of each case will determine what a person gets charged with and the penalties they ultimately face for theft, with one major factor being the value of the item taken.
No matter what you get charged with, whether it’s burglary, robbery, or theft, you have the right to defend yourself against the charges in court. An experienced and skilled attorney can help look at your case’s facts and determine the best defense.
Some of the most common defenses against these types of crimes in Colorado include:
- The property in question was yours, and you can prove that you own it
- The property was given to you by the person who accused you of committing theft
- The property gets borrowed, and there was no intent to deprive them of it permanently
- No threats were issued in the event
- You were present on the property lawfully
- You had no intention of committing a crime
You have rights. Regardless of the defense you choose, remember that taking advantage of the rights afforded to you with the help of a lawyer is vital to your success.
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 & 2019-2022” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2022 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020-2022. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.