Do You Need a Denver Theft Lawyer?
If you’ve been charged with theft in Denver, it’s important that you completely understand the possible consequences this accusation carries.
Being found guilty of this crime will almost certainly affect you for the rest of your life.
This is why you should secure the services of a qualified Denver theft lawyer as soon as possible and educate yourself about the particulars of this charge.
How Theft Is Defined in Colorado
Theft carries a broad definition under Colorado law.
One is considered guilty of theft if it’s proven that they have knowingly obtained, retained, or controlled an item without authorization from the rightful owner or through threat or deception.
In other words, if someone intends to permanently deprive another person of something of value, they have committed theft.
Common Forms of Theft in Colorado
Examples of crimes that fall under the definition of theft in Colorado include:
- Burglary (Home or Business)
- False Pretenses
- Grand Larceny
- Identity theft
- Money laundering
- Motor Vehicle Theft
- Petty/Grand Theft
To be clear, you can be convicted of theft even if you had nothing to do with the physical act of taking someone’s property or threatening them to hand it over.
For example, if you buy an item from someone knowing that they stole it from someone else, you can be charged with this crime.
In Colorado, theft even applies to the unauthorized sale or resale of ski resort tickets and passes. So if you decide to sell your lift pass to a friend because you don’t plan on using it anymore, both of you may face charges.
Fraud Crimes in Colorado
Theft in Colorado can also include fraud-related crimes. This would involve theft through the use of deception. Common examples of fraud include:
- Accounting Fraud
- Bank Fraud
- Credit Card Fraud
- Investment Fraud
- Securities Fraud
White Collar Crimes in Colorado
The Colorado Theft Statute also covers “white collar crimes.” This includes things like:
- Insider Trading
- Money Laundering
- Ponzi Schemes
These tend to be the most complicated forms of theft crime as defined by the Colorado Theft Crimes Statute.
The Penalty for Theft in Colorado
Ultimately, the penalty for theft will depend largely on the value of the item you are accused of having stolen.
Here are the different classifications for theft in Colorado and the sentence they generally carry.
Keep in mind that your penalty will also depend on whether or not this is your first offense. If you’re charged with multiple counts of theft or theft and another crime, you’ll face greater penalties than the ones listed below.
- Class 1 Petty Offense (Value of Stolen Property Less Than $50): Up to 6 months in jail and $500 in fines
- Class 3 Misdemeanor (Value of Stolen Property Between $50 and $300): Up to 6 months in jail and $750 in fines
- Class 2 Misdemeanor (Value of Stolen Property Between $300 and $750): Up to 1 year in prison and $1,000 in fines
- Class 1 Misdemeanor (Value of Stolen Property Between $750 and $2,000): Up to 1.5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines
- Class 6 Felony (Value of Stolen Property Between $2,000 and $5,000): Up to 1.5 years in prison and $100,000 in fines
- Class 5 Felony (Value of Stolen Property Between $5,000 and $20,000): Up to 3 years in prison and $100,000 in fines
- Class 4 Felony (Value of Stolen Property Between $20,000 and $100,000): Up to 6 years in prison and $500,000 in fines
- Class 3 Felony (Value of Stolen Property Between $100,000 and $1,000,000): Up to 12 years in prison and $750,000 in fines
- Class 2 Felony (Value of Stolen Property more than $1,000,000): Up to 24 years in prison and $1,000,000 in fines
Obviously, some of these charges carry much more severe penalties than others. However, multiple charges of petty or misdemeanor theft can also be “aggregated” to the point that they reach the felony level.
In any case, any charge of theft is always a serious one. Consider a future employer or landlord who runs a background check on you. When they see you’ve been found guilty of theft, it probably won’t matter much to them if the stolen property was worth $20, $200, or $2,000. They’ll assume you’re likely to commit the crime again, but this time, they’ll be the victim.
When Theft Becomes Burglary or Robbery
Any type of theft can become a much more serious crime if other factors are present.
For example, theft becomes felony burglary when it involves breaking into a home, garage, or business. It doesn’t matter how much the stolen property is worth.
The crime turns into second degree burglary – a class 3 felony – if the theft happened in a home or garage. It’s a class 4 felony if the location was a non-residential structure like a business.
Robbery entails using force, intimidation, or violence to carry out a theft. A common example would be robbing someone at gunpoint or threatening to hurt them if they didn’t hand over their money. These crimes are also felonies.
Understanding Theft Penalties in Colorado Post 2013
If you’ve previously been charged with theft in Colorado – or know someone who has – the above breakdown may not look familiar. That’s because the Colorado Theft Statute 18-4-401 were completely revised back in 2013. Prior to that, the code had not been adjusted in about 20 years.
How a Denver Theft Lawyer Will Respond
Once you hire a Denver theft lawyer to represent you in court, they’ll immediately begin working on your case. Ultimately, they’ll work toward putting forth the best possible defense they can, which is something they’ll talk over with you first.
If you’ve never been to court before, the very idea can cause a lot of anxiety, so here’s what to expect:
Before Going to Court
Again, long before you go to court with your attorney, they will go over your case with you in detail. This will include going over the police report and witness statements, as well as listening to your side of the story.
Everything you tell your attorney will be protected, meaning your lawyer will never share it with anyone else. There will also be time to answer any questions you have about your case and attending court.
While your Denver theft lawyer should have plenty of experience, they are also obliged to inform you about your case and ensure that the final decision on how to move forward is yours.
The Trial Process
Again, much of the process will be based on your criminal record and the nature of the theft you are alleged to have committed.
For example, you may be held prior to trial if you’re unable to post bail or secure a bond.
There may not be a trial at all if your defense attorney is able to come to a plea agreement with the prosecution or offer evidence early on that gets the charges dropped.
On the other hand, your attorney may agree to fight the charges, meaning you’ll go to court. The trial could include multiple court dates over the course of a month or even longer.
Common Defenses Against Charges of Theft in Colorado
A Denver theft lawyer will approach these charges based on the unique nature of the incident. This will include important factors like:
- The value of the property alleged to have been stolen
- The age of the defendant(s)
- Law enforcement’s reaction
- The prosecution’s response
- Evidence of the alleged crime
- Other charges being pursued
Based on these factors, an experienced attorney may pursue one of the following defenses:
- Age (among other things, no one under the age of 10 can be found guilty of a criminal offense)
- Choice of evils/justification
- Execution of Public Duty
- Impaired Mental Condition
- Involuntary Intoxication
Of course, they may also have enough evidence to prove your innocence.
Why You Need a Qualified Denver Theft Lawyer by Your Side
As you can see, theft laws in Denver are fairly complicated and defending against these charges is often an equally involved process.
This is why you need an experienced Denver theft attorney at your side. These are not the kinds of charges you want to show up to court for by yourself. Even a public defender’s best efforts won’t be enough. They have a number of other cases that need their focus, too.
Fighting these charges requires understanding all of the details in the Colorado Theft Statute. It also requires understanding how to look at the evidence and how law enforcement responded to ensure there are grounds for charges in the first place. If it comes to it, you need a lawyer who knows how to get the best possible plea deal.
Don’t settle when you have so much on the line. Secure the services of a Denver theft lawyer who will give you confidence in your case. Please contact accomplished Denver criminal defense attorney Nicolas M. Geman.