We all have those little expenses that turn into big chunks of our paycheck. Heading to Starbucks for your morning coffee. Stopping for fast food because you don’t have time for anything else.
Do these things once or twice and the money involved will be pretty small. Do them a few times a week for a month, though, and it adds up fast.
Well, the same concept applies to petty thefts or small crimes. Someone may start by stealing a dollar or two out of the cash register, or making a small “mistake” that results in money in their pocket. But swiping a little cash here and telling little lies there can end up resulting in a huge total amount of theft once you add every infraction together.
Why does this matter? Because the higher the value of stolen goods or money, the worse your charges and penalties will be.
Under Fire for Five Years of Stealing
This is often how big cases of white collar crimes start out. For example, former Sterling Fire Department Chief Kurt Vogel recently pleaded guilty to charges of theft and misconduct. He allegedly stole over $120,000 from the fire department between the years of 2010 and 2015.
The investigation on Vogel began when the department started to notice missing firefighter gear and minor bookkeeping errors. On their own, each of these incidents didn’t amount to much.
In fact, theft of under $500 is considered a class 2 misdemeanor in Colorado. However, it only takes $20,000 worth of stolen property for the state to bump charges up to a class 3 felony.
The harshest penalties on a class 2 misdemeanor include 12 months in jail and $1,000 in fines. In contrast, the harshest penalties on a class 3 felony include 12 years in jail and $750,000 in fines.
That’s quite a difference in sentencing.
Sure, it may seem like there’s a pretty big difference between stealing $500 and $20,000, but when theft crimes add up, it doesn’t take long for a case to qualify for more serious charges.
Possibly due to his guilty plea, Vogel currently faces up to 8 years in prison and will attend a sentencing trial in February.
All white collar and theft crimes can add up like this. The higher the value of the property that was stolen, forged, and so on, the harsher the penalties. If you have been charged, one of your main goals should be to keep the value of the property involved as low as possible.
More Charges May Be Coming in the Vogel Case
Vogel’s wife is also under criminal investigation after he admitted in his plea that the stolen money was spent on personal expenses for the two of them. The investigation into her may not have a big effect on Vogel’s charges since he has already pled guilty and simply awaits sentencing.
However, if he had not already taken a plea deal and the investigation uncovered evidence of him stealing even more property, or committing additional crimes, he could have found himself facing a harsher sentence. This is because prosecutors have the ability to add to or dismiss the charges against you even after arraignment based on any new evidence. It’s yet another reason why the discovery process is so important.
Give yourself the best chance at a positive outcome. Reach out to a knowledgeable Denver theft lawyer.
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 2012-2016 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.