Theft Laws and Penalties in Colorado: Q&A Guide

Fri May 4th , by , on DUI Case Studies |

In Colorado, theft is defined as taking and keeping something that isn’t yours without obtaining permission from the rightful owner.

But theft can extend beyond this definition to include people who may not have actually stolen the item but provide aid to the person who did.

A pawnbroker, who accepts an item they know is stolen property, can be charged with theft. Also, a person who helps dispose of something stolen can also be charged. They key factor is knowing you are handling stolen goods – once you know, you’re liable.

Definition of “Stolen Goods”

In Colorado, theft can include physical items, as well as trade secrets, medical records, or even fuel.
Additionally, because Colorado is the playground for many skiers, the state has specific statutes for unauthorized sales or resales of tickets or passes for ski resorts.

Questions and Answers Regarding Theft Laws in Colorado

If you are charged with theft, it’s important that you understand exactly what these charges mean.
Below is a Q&A guide that outlines these charges and possible outcomes.

Q: Is theft a misdemeanor?

Theft can be considered a misdemeanor. It depends on the value of the goods taken. For example, if the stolen item:

· Is worth $50 or more, but less than $300, the charge is a class 3 misdemeanor
· Is worth $300 or more, but less than $750, the charge is a class 2 misdemeanor
· Is worth $750 or more, but less than $2,000, the charge is a class 1 misdemeanor

Theft of an item worth less than $50 is considered a class 1 “petty theft” offense.

Q: Is theft a felony?


Stealing can definitely be a felony offense. Theft becomes a felony when the value of what was stolen is increased. If the item is:

· Worth $2,000 or more, but less than $5,000, the charge is a class 6 felony
· Worth $5,000 or more, but less than $20,000, the charge is a class 5 felony
· Worth $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000, the charge is a class 4 felony
· Worth $100,000 or more, but less than $1 million, the charge is a class 3 felony
· Worth $1 million or more, the charge is a class 2 felony

For anyone who has been convicted of felony theft for stealing from a store twice in the previous four years, Colorado imposes a mandatory sentence of at least the minimum term allowed for the sentence, with no chance for parole or a suspended sentence.

If you steal an item from another person, as opposed to breaking into a home or business and stealing, you will automatically be charged with a class 5 felony. This charge is upheld no matter the value of whatever you took. This particular felony charge pertains to theft where you physically removed an item from another person without using force, threats, or a deadly weapon.

Q: What amount of money stolen is a felony? (How much is felony theft?)

Essentially, you are looking at felony charges if the goods you stole are valued at $2,000 or more. If the value is less than $2,000, you may only receive a misdemeanor charge. But once you hit $2,000, you are likely looking at a felony charge for theft.

Q: What is the punishment for stealing?

Punishments for stealing depend upon the charge. Both misdemeanors and felonies can carry sentences that involve both fines and jail time. The more serious the charge, the steeper the punishment.

Q: Does theft result in fines?

It is possible. Most punishments can include a fine, if the courts decide to impose them. The amount depends on the charge. Below is a comprehensive list of fines you could possibly receive if you are charged with theft:

· Class 1 Petty Offense: up to $500
· Class 3 Misdemeanor: $50- $750
· Class 2 Misdemeanor: $250 – $1,000
· Class 3 Misdemeanor: $500 – $5,000
· Class 6 Felony: $1,000 – $100,000
· Class 5 Felony: $1,000 – $100,000
· Class 4 Felony: $2,000 – $500,000
· Class 3 Felony: $3,000 – $750,000
· Class 2 Felony: $5,000 – $1 million

The court can decide if they want your conviction to include a fine, jail time, or both.

Q: Does theft result in jail time?


It can. If you were charged with a class 1 petty offense, you will avoid jail time – instead, you’ll likely pay a fine.

A class 3 misdemeanor, too, will probably result in just a fine. Class 1 and 2 misdemeanors and most felonies, however, can result in jail time.

Jail time for misdemeanors is as follows:

· Class 2: Up to 3 months in a county jail
· Class 1: Up to 6 months in a county jail

For felonies, the prison term is:

· Class 6: 1 year -18 months in a correctional facility
· Class 5: 1-3 years in a correctional facility
· Class 4: 2-6 years in a correctional facility
· Class 3: 4-12 years in a correctional facility
· Class 2: 8-24 years in a correctional facility

Q: What is the maximum sentence for theft?

You could receive the maximum sentence for theft if you steal goods worth $1 million or more. This would result in a class 2 felony charge, which carries a prison sentence of 8-24 years, plus five years parole.

On top of your prison sentence, you will be ordered to pay a potentially hefty fine. The fine for a class 2 felony starts at $5,000 but can go up to $1 million. It’s up to the court to decide if they will charge you with a fine, jail time, or both.

Q: Is there a different punishment for stealing money?

Colorado statutes aren’t broken down by money or goods. They pertain to the monetary value assigned to an item. This means the charges are the same whether you stole $20,000 in cash or a $20,000 car.

Q: How can a Colorado criminal defense attorney help me?

Being charged with a criminal offense carries serious consequences. If you are charged with theft, whether it was for goods worth $500 or $1 million, you will want to have an attorney on your side.

The criminal defense attorneys at Geman Legal have years of experience in the criminal court systems of Boulder and Denver. They can ensure you are represented fairly in court and fight to get you the best possible outcome.

To speak to one of our attorneys, call us at (303) 357-3035 or email us.