This past year has been absolutely chaotic. The COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest, and an intense Presidential election have left everyone on edge. To add even more fuel to the fire, property crimes throughout Denver have been rising.
The Property Crime 2020 Crime Report was released by the Denver Post in late September. Statistics from the report are not promising.
Property Crimes in Denver, 2020
Denver has reported 22,321 property crimes reported so far in the first nine months of the year. When you break that down, the city experienced an average of 2,570 property crimes per month…or 84.5 per day.
Looking at recent property crime data, you may notice that they all look very different: motor vehicle theft, shoplifting, arson, etc.
As it turns out, property crimes is a pretty big category in Colorado state law. Over eight different crimes (each with varying degrees of severity) may be considered “property crimes.”
Let’s explore these eight different crimes. If you have been charged with a property crime, knowing the difference between these eight crimes could be the key to receiving a smaller sentence.
Eight Different Property Crimes in Colorado
The eight different property crimes in Colorado are:
- Criminal mischief
- Defacing property
Setting fire to property, including a home, boat, or forest, is considered arson. Colorado defines four degrees of arson. Unless the person commits arson on their personal property, arson is a felony crime. Intentionally setting fire to a neighbor’s boat, for example, is considered first-degree arson. This is a class 3 felony. Penalties include up to 12 years in prison.
Breaking and entering into a building with the intention of committing a felony is considered burglary. You do not have to intent to commit theft to be charged with this crime. The severity of penalties depends on different aggravating factors, including the type of building involved and whether people were present during the crime. Breaking into a home while a family is sleeping to commit arson, for example, is considered a first-degree burglary, which is also a class 3 felony.
Robbery is a type of theft crime that happens in broad daylight. If you were to use force or threats to take money from someone off of the street, for example, you may be charged with robbery. The type of goods stolen (i.e. controlled substances) may play into penalties and sentencing. Simple robbery is a class 4 felony in Colorado. Aggravated robbery is a class 3 felony.
Theft, quite simply, is the act of obtaining or exercising control over someone’s goods through threat or deception. But threat charges aren’t so simple in Colorado. Charges range from a petty offense to a class 2 felony. The type of goods and the value of the goods impact charges.
Stealing a $3,000 necklace by slipping it into your pocket and walking away with it, for example, can be charged as a class 6 felony in Colorado. Unlawfully reselling a lift ticket for profit is considered theft, although the charge is a class 2 petty offense. Talk to a Colorado property crimes lawyer for more information on the theft charges you might be facing.
Criminal mischief is more than just vandalism. Any sort of intentional damage to another person’s property may be considered criminal mischief in Colorado. If you were to take a key to your ex’s car and cause significant damage, you may find yourself charged with criminal mischief. Like theft, criminal mischief charges and penalties depend on the value of the property before it was damaged.
Entering or remaining land when you do not have permission is considered trespassing. Colorado defines three degrees of trespassing. Entering someone’s car with the intention of committing criminal mischief, for example, is considered first-degree trespassing (a class 5 felony.) Simply being in/on the property without criminal intent is considered third-degree trespassing (a class 1 petty offense.) The type of property involved, including agricultural land, may increase the charges and penalties for a trespassing crime.
Defacing property differs slightly from criminal mischief; the “victim” of the crime is typically a historical monument. Destroying, defacing, removing, or damaging a historical monument, through spray paint, pens, or otherwise, is a crime in the state of Colorado. This is a class 2 misdemeanor in Colorado.
What about damage to utilities? Tampering with a business’s Wifi or cutting the power off to an apartment complex may also be considered a property crime. Colorado defines two degrees of criminal tampering. Both are considered misdemeanors.
Facing Property Crime Charges? You Can Fight Back
You are innocent until proven guilty of all crimes in Colorado, including property crimes. If you have been charged, a prosecutor will need to prove that you committed burglary, theft, or whatever crime you are facing. Build a strong defense strategy to avoid jail time, fines, and other penalties for property crimes.
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” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 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. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.