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Christmas is a time to share – and a time to shower others with gestures of goodwill and happiness.

Even the Grinch, who found it in his heart to return all the gifts to Whoville (and bring some cheer to Littleton in real life) understood the error of his ways. Real life isn’t quite as simple as recognizing why you did something wrong, though. The difference between those who are caught stealing in real life and the Grinch is that the Grinch won’t face theft charges.

If you’re caught shoplifting in Colorado, then you can face some serious penalties. Here’s what you need to know.

Colorado Shoplifting Defined

How is shoplifting defined in Colorado? Crimes such as shoplifting fall under the larger umbrella of theft crimes. The definition of theft, and therefore shoplifting, is:

  • Knowingly retaining, exercising control, or obtaining control over the property of another person
  • Acting by deception, without authorization, or by a threat to get control of the property
  • Acting with the intent to deprive someone else of their property permanently

Colorado law also says that anyone concealing merchandise or goods, both in the store and outside of it, is guilty of theft by the action of concealment of goods. This crime has no specific penalty, but can be used by the prosecution to prove intent for criminal charges.

You also don’t have to leave the premises to be charged with shoplifting — just being suspected of intending to shoplift opens you up to being detained for questioning. Put another way, if you are caught by a store owner or merchant attempting to shoplift, they have the right to detain you and question you.

They can also sue you in civil court, which would be in addition to any criminal charges you may be charged with. Adults, emancipated minors, and legal guardians or parents of non-emancipated minors can be sued.

Penalties for Shoplifting in Denver

Shoplifting in Colorado is a charge that can result in both civil and criminal penalties. Under Colorado law, if you are convicted of an offense involving shoplifting, the consequences will be contingent on the value of the goods that were taken.

Value Less Than $500

If convicted of this Class 2 misdemeanor, you can face up to one year in jail and fines up to $1,000.

Value Between $500 and $1,000

This is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by as much as 18 months in prison and fines up to $5,000.

Value Between $1,000 and $20,000

At this level, it’s a Class 4 felony that is punishable by as much as six years in prison and fines up to $500,000.

Value Over $20,000

A Class 3 felony, you can face up to 12 years in prison and fines up to $750,000 for stealing items at this level of value.

You can also get additional penalties if it is determined that in the commission of the theft, you tampered with a theft detection device or had the tools to tamper with it. This additional charge is a Class 1 misdemeanor and it can be punished by up to 18 months in prison and $5,000 in fines.

Denver Shoplifting Attorney

Shoplifting isn’t a rare crime, but just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s not taken seriously. If you’re charged with shoplifting, it’s important to know what may be facing you in court, both at a criminal and civil level.


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.





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