Common Defenses for Colorado Theft Crimes

The laws governing theft in Colorado are complicated and cover a wide variety of crimes. Theft includes:

  • Taking, using, exercising control over, or abandoning property in such a way that it deprives the owner of its use.
  • Demanding payment or any other kind of compensation for returning something to its owner.


This is probably what is most commonly thought of as theft, such as shoplifting or burglary. However, theft also includes scams and fraud. Tricking others into giving you money or goods is theft by deception, such as:

  • Insurance fraud
  • Assuming another person’s identity
  • Embezzlement

Theft of services is receiving any service without paying for it:

  • Leaving a restaurant without paying
  • Failing to return a rental car
  • Remaining in a rental property or hotel room without payment

Theft is differentiated from robbery in that the person that owns the property is not present when it is taken, and it is not removed by physical force or threats of violence

Seriousness of Theft Charges

Common Defenses for Colorado Theft CrimesThe seriousness of the charges in a theft crime are determined by the value of the item that was stolen.

  • Petty theft is the least serious, theft cannot exceed $50. Up to 6 mos. in jail and fines of $500.
  • Class 3 Misdemeanor: Between $50 – $300 in value. Up to 6 mos. in jail and fines up to $750.
  • Class 2 Misdemeanor: Between $300 – $750. At least 3 mos. to 1 year in jail and fines up to 1,000.
  • Class 1 Misdemeanor: Between $750 – $2,000. At least 6 mos. to 18 mos. in jail and fines up to $5,000.

Theft crimes involving items valued at $2,000 or more are charged as felonies. The fines and jail times increase, based on the value of the items stolen. Crimes of theft are considered “crimes of moral turpitude.” This means even a relatively low value theft can have grave consequences. Crimes of theft can lead to deportation for non-citizens, loss of professional licenses and affiliation, and may have to be reported to employers and even on job applications.

Defenses for Crimes of Theft

There are a variety of defenses that could be effective in defending accusations of theft. The laws around theft are complicated and require multiple elements to be satisfied in court.

Is Ownership of the Property Clear?

Theft requires that the defendant knowingly took another person‘s property. The defense may strive to show that ownership is not clearly defined. This is frequently the case in families or couples where there has been a history of sharing or pooling resources. If the defense can show a pattern of giving and taking between the parties involved, it casts doubt on the idea that the defendant knowingly took someone else’s property.

Outside of any prior relationship, if the defendant reasonably could have been mistaken about the ownership when they took the property, then they did not “knowingly” commit the crime of theft.

Did the Accused Have the Intent to Steal?

Theft requires that the prosecutor prove the defendant had the intent to commit the crime. If the defendant was too intoxicated, impaired, did the act unknowingly, or intended to borrow and return the property – they did not have the intent.

What Is The Real Value of the Stolen Property?

This is a defense that aims to have the charges lowered. It affirms the theft took place but is of lesser value than claimed by the prosecutor.

Conviction of any theft can have serious consequences to your future, far beyond jail and fines. The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. can navigate the complexities of the law and defend your reputation. Put a team of legal experts in your corner. Call The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. at (719) 475-2555.