Sometime in the late night or early morning hours between April 8 and 9, 2018, three safes were stolen from the Aspen Highlands ticket office.
All of the relatively small safes were carried out, and two of them were removed from their wall mounts. Officers debate about whether one person could have carried the safes out alone, and surveillance videos show one suspect and three other men police would like to question about whether they witnessed the suspect or his actions.
The safes contained at least $10,000 in cash.
What happens if the police catch those responsible? How would it be charged? What would the penalties be? In this post, we’ll look at how cases like these are handled according to Colorado theft laws.
Breaking Down the Colorado Theft Statute
The Colorado statutes define theft in this way:
An individual knowingly obtains or exercises control over anything of value that belongs to another person or entity without their express permission, and
- Intends to permanently deprive the owner of the property
- Knowingly conceals, uses or abandons the property, or
- Demands an unlawful payment as a condition of returning the property to the owner.
Taking the safes definitely falls under this definition, but how serious would the charges be for taking a few safes?
How Penalties for Theft in Colorado are Determined
Theft crimes in our state are classified as either misdemeanors or felonies. How do law enforcement officials determine which is which? We’ll look at the classifications in detail below.
The lowest level theft charge is a Class 2 misdemeanor. This charge is reserved for theft of property valued at less than $500. This level is referred to as petty theft. A conviction will result in at least three months in jail plus a $250 fine, or at least 12 months in jail plus a $1,000 fine, depending on the circumstances.
The next level for theft is a Class 1 misdemeanor for theft of property valued at over $500 but less than $1,000. A conviction will result in at least six months in jail plus a $500 fine, or up to 18 months in jail plus a $5,000 fine.
The lowest level for felony theft is a Class 5 felony. A conviction for a Class 5 felony involves a prison sentence of one to three years with at least two years of probation.
The next level for felony theft is a Class 4 felony for theft of property valued at over $1,000 but less than $20,000. A conviction for a Class 4 felony involves at least two years and up to six years and a minimum parole sentence of three years, plus a $2,000 to $500,000 fine.
The highest level for felony theft is a Class 3 felony for theft of property valued at over $20,000. A conviction for a Class 5 felony involves at least four years and up to 12 years and a minimum parole sentence of five years, plus a $3,000 to $750,000 fine.
For two felony convictions of retail merchandise theft within four years, an offender will receive at least the minimum sentence and will be ineligible for parole.
Additional civil penalties may be sought by a retailer. Actual damages based on the worth of the property may be awarded to the store plus another penalty ranging from $100 to $250.
So, generally speaking, the level of theft charges comes down to the value of the stolen items. In the case above, this includes both the value of the safes themselves plus the content of the safes. Since we know that the safes contained at least $10,000 in cash, if someone is caught they’re looking at a Class 4 felony at minimum, which as a reminder includes the possibility of 2-6 years in prison and $2,000-$500,000 in fines.
Bottom line? Theft charges can quickly become serious. If you are facing a charge for theft or worry that one may be coming, contact a knowledgeable Colorado criminal lawyer today for a free consultation.
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.