Theft is one of the most broadly defined crimes in the legal system. Anything from shoplifting a pack of gum to embezzling millions from a corporation is considered theft of some type.
Although theft of any kind is a serious crime, this is especially true when the stolen assets are valuable. The penalties for different ends of the value spectrum are very different. Charges can quickly rack up to years behind bars upon a felony conviction.
Because of this, if you have been charged with theft, reach out to an experienced Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney. In the meantime, learn here about precisely when a theft crime goes from a misdemeanor to a felony-level charge.
When Theft Is a CO Misdemeanor
In general, small amounts of stolen value lead to misdemeanor charges. The vast majority of thefts are misdemeanors because people spot an opportunity to grab something small of value and take it.
The most common theft charge is a Class 2 Misdemeanor Theft, otherwise known as petty theft. For a theft to be considered petty theft, the value of stolen goods should be less than $750. Penalties for these crimes include up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines.
Slightly larger thefts qualify as Class 1 misdemeanors. These crimes involve stealing between $750 and $2,000 in value. Colorado imposes a fine of up to $5,000 and 18 months in jail for Class 1 Misdemeanor Theft.
When Theft Becomes a CO Felony
When the value of a theft exceeds $2,000, things become more serious. This is where felony charges may be applicable. Colorado considers the theft of anything with an aggregate value of $2,000-plus a felony, with steadily rising penalties as amounts increase.
- Between $2,000 and $5,000: Theft of this amount is a Class 6 felony, punishable from 12 to 18 months in prison and fines.
- Between $5,000 and $20,000: This is considered a Class 5 felony, carrying a range of one to three years in prison and variable fines.
- Between $20,000 and $100,000: This is considered a Class 4 felony, and has a prison range of two to six years. There are also variable fines associated with the charge.
- Between $100,000 and $1,000,000: Thefts in this range are considered Class 3 felonies, leading to penalties such as four to twelve years in prison and fines up to $750,000.
- Above $1,000,000: This level of theft is a Class 2 felony, the highest non-violent charge in Colorado. This can range from 8 to 24 years in prison and fines up to $1,000,000.
There are other aggravating factors that can make theft a felony, as well. Using force or threats of harm leads to a Class 5 felony charge at minimum, regardless of the value of the stolen object.
Furthermore, if a person commits more than one theft over the course of six months, the value of the stolen assets can be combined into a single charge. As a result, multiple small thefts can result in a felony charge if their total value is more than $2,000.
When just a few hundred dollars in value means the difference between where you spend years of your life, it only makes sense to partner with a legal team who knows how to defend against the theft charges you face effectively.
About the Author:
Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.