In many cases, shoplifting is prosecuted as a misdemeanor in the Colorado courts. Not always, though.
What circumstances may arise to make the charge a felony offense?
In December 2016, police officers were called to a investigate a report of shoplifting at King Soopers in Arvada. The woman suspected of shoplifting was hiding next door in the bathroom of Walgreens. She had allegedly stolen about $75 in merchandise and possessed a driver’s license that was not hers.
The police took the woman to the station and obtained her fingerprints. They issued a warning that if she falsely signed her name to the fingerprints, she was committing a felony. When she signed, the Colorado Bureau of Investigations determined that she was using a false identity. She then admitted that she had lied to the police.
The woman was charged with theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, and criminal possession of identity.
Most shoplifting offenses in Colorado do not have such a complicated route to becoming felonies. In this post, we’re going to detail the penalties and charges for different types of shoplifting offenses and let you know how a skilled criminal defense attorney can help you fight back.
Colorado Shoplifting Laws
In Colorado, shoplifting is a form of theft. Theft is defined as intentionally acting to deprive another entity or person of anything of value. It also contains two other essential elements:
- The offender knowingly controls, obtains or retains an item; and
- Acts with deception or threats or without authorization.
Shoplifting is a specific form of theft that involves depriving a retail merchandiser of anything of value. Penalties – and charges – are assigned according to the value of the item or items that were taken.
In other words, you can be charged with a felony just for shoplifting over a certain amount.
Here is a breakdown of how the penalties apply to Colorado shoplifting cases.
Class 1 Petty Offense
Value less than $50
Sentence of up to six months in jail and up to $500 in fines
Class 3 Misdemeanor
Value between $50 and $300
Sentence of up to six months in jail and up to $750 in fines
Class 2 Misdemeanor
Value between $300 and $750
Sentence of up to one year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines
Class 1 Misdemeanor
Value between $750 and $2,000
Sentence of up to 1.5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines
Class 6 Felony
Value between $2,000 and $5,000
Sentence of up to 1.5 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines
Class 5 Felony
Value between $5,000 and $20,000
Sentence of up to three years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines
Class 4 Felony
Value between $20,000 and $100,000
Sentence of up to six years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines
Class 3 Felony
Value between $100,000 and $1 million
Sentence of up to 12 years in prison and up to $750,000 in fines
Class 2 Felony
Value over $1 million
Sentence of up to 24 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines
As you can see, shoplifting in Colorado can result in significant fines and incarceration, depending on the value of the item or items. If a person commits other crimes in addition to shoplifting, as in the case described above, the penalties may be even more harsh and long-lasting.
Defenses to Colorado Shoplifting Charges
It’s essential to speak with an experienced Denver defense attorney as soon as you are facing shoplifting charges. A skilled criminal lawyer will know which strategies to use to possibly get the charges reduced or dropped.
Depending on the unique details of your case, your attorney may be able to use any of the following defenses to fight your charges.
Lack of evidence
A shoplifting conviction depends on intent and knowledge. If those things can’t be sufficiently proven by the prosecution, your case could be dropped.
When forced to choose between two evils, you may have felt the need to shoplift. Your lawyer may be able to fight back with this defense.
This defense is possible if someone threatened harm against you or a loved one unless you shoplifted.
If government agents caused you to act against your will, you may be able to use this defense.
Those these defenses are rare, they can work when expert witnesses concur that you were not able to make a reasonable choice.
If you are facing shoplifting charges in Colorado, make sure to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
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.