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Colorado Criminal Defense Blog

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“Theft crimes” is a broad term that includes a number of specific criminal charges. However, all theft crimes involve taking a person’s property without their permission.


Theft crimes can vary widely in their degree of severity, encompassing everything from shoplifting to armed robbery. Usually, the criminal charge for a theft crime is based on the value of the items that were taken. However, there are other factors that affect the charge as well, such as where the item was stolen from or whether a weapon was used.


Classifications of Theft under Colorado Law


Colorado law organizes most theft crimes by misdemeanor or felony class. Individuals accused of theft may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, depending on circumstances surrounding the alleged crime. Here are some of the more common charges you might face in our state.


Class 2 Misdemeanor Theft (Petty Theft)

If the value of the item or items stolen is less than $500, a theft is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor. Sometimes called “petty theft,” this is the lowest level theft offense.


In Colorado, a Class 2 misdemeanor is punishable by a sentence of 3 to 12 months, and a fine of $250 to $1000 dollars.


Class 1 Misdemeanor Theft

If the item or items stolen is worth $500 dollars or more, but still less than $1,000 dollars, the theft is a Class 1 misdemeanor. This charge is punishable by 6 to 18 months in jail, and a fine of between $500 and $5,000.


Class 5 Felony Theft

Theft becomes a felony when the property is taken from someone else’s person if the use of force or coercion is absent. An example of this type of theft is pickpocketing.

Class 5 felony theft is punishable by a sentence of 1 to 3 years of imprisonment, including at least two years of parole.


Class 4 Felony Theft

When the value of the property stolen is $1,000 or greater, but less than $20,000, the theft is classified as a Class 4 felony. The sentence carried by a Class 4 felony is a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 6 years imprisonment. It also includes a fine of $2,000 to $500,000.


Class 3 Felony Theft

When the value of the stolen goods is $20,000 dollars or more, theft is charged as a Class 3 felony. This charge carries a 4 to 12 year prison sentence and a fine ranging in between $3,000 and $750,000


Shoplifting/Retail Theft Penalties


Shoplifting and Retail Theft Penalties


Colorado law considers retail theft, also known as shoplifting, essentially the same as theft from a person. Retail theft isn’t limited to grabbing something off the shelves and walking out without paying.


Any activity that intends to deprive the store owner of the retail value of the item, including tampering with security tags or attempting to return an item that you did not purchase, can be considered theft.


Though retail theft charges carry the same criminal punishments as other theft charges, they can also come with a separate civil penalty. A store owner can hold an adult, an emancipated minor, or the parent of a minor liable for actual damages. There can also be a penalty of $100 to $250, payable to the store owner.

When is a Theft Considered “Robbery”?


When a person knowingly takes anything of value from the person or presence of another by using force, threats, or intimidation, this is considered robbery. Robbery is prosecuted as a Class 4 felony.


Though the state of Colorado considers robbery to be a violent crime, it’s important to note that the victim does not need to be injured for a theft to be considered a robbery. The threat of violence is enough to earn a theft a robbery designation.


Denver Theft Lawyer


Even more serious than a robbery charge is aggravated robbery. The crime of aggravated robbery is prosecuted as a Class 3 felony.


According to the law, a robbery can be considered aggravated if, during the course of the robbery, an individual:


  • Is armed with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill, maim, or wound the person robbed, or any other person if resisted
  • Knowingly wounds or strikes anyone with a deadly weapon
  • Uses force, threats, or intimidation with a deadly weapon, knowingly putting anyone involved in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury
  • Has a confederate present who meets any of the above criteria
  • Possesses any article used or fashioned in a way to lead someone to believe it is a deadly weapon
  • Verbally or otherwise represents that he or she has a deadly weapon


The state of Colorado takes all accusations of theft seriously. If you have been accused of a theft crime, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to avoid severe consequences like fines and incarceration.


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.


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