Colorado Springs Theft Crime Lawyers
Being convicted of a theft crime is a serious matter; even a misdemeanor petty theft conviction can result in serious consequences. If you are currently facing a theft charge, you should get in touch with an experienced Colorado Springs defense attorney right away.
It is not only your future that may be at stake, but also your finances, professional life, and personal relations. Theft crimes are considered "crimes of moral turpitude," meaning even if you are essentially an honest and good person, your reputation and your good name may be tarnished from a conviction.
Colorado's criminal laws concerning theft crimes are complex and can be confusing for those who do not possess any legal expertise. That is why an attorney is essential to fighting your charges. You may not be familiar with the prosecution's strategies or the most effective defense for your particular case, but an experienced and reliable attorney will. At The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., we are known for providing clients with quality legal counsel and advice.
Colorado's criminal statutes state that theft occurs when an individual "knowingly obtains or exercises control over" another's property without his or her permission. The following conditions also have to be met in order for an action to be considered theft:
- The perpetrator does not ever intend to give the property back to the owner;
- The perpetrator knowingly uses, conceals, or abandons the property; or
- The perpetrator demands any payment to which he or she is not legally entitled, as a condition of restoring the property to the owner.
There are many different types of theft crimes, including the following:
- Theft of Rental Property
- Theft of Trade Secrets
- Fuel Piracy
- Newspaper Theft
- Theft of Medical Records
- Motor Vehicle Theft
- Petty Theft
- Armed Robbery
The state of Colorado has its own specific statutes that address the theft of sound recordings, cable television services, and public transportation services.
Misdemeanors and felonies refer to two different types of crimes, differentiated by their severity. In general, misdemeanors are less serious, while felonies are more serious and include major violent crimes. In Colorado, the major factor that distinguishes between misdemeanor and felony theft is the value of what was stolen. Lower values are misdemeanors, or even petty theft, while higher values are felony theft. At higher values, theft is much more serious with higher prison terms and fines for defendants found guilty of these crimes.
Petty theft refers to the least serious form of theft in Colorado, typically taking anything below $50 in value. Shoplifting, for example, is usually a petty offense, so long as the object taken is not worth more than $50. Keep in mind, however, that multiple stolen items can be added together in a single charge. This means that a defendant accused of shoplifting from three different stores, taking items worth $20 from each, can be charged with a higher offense because the items total more than $50 when combined.
A theft crime can be treated as either a misdemeanor or a felony in Colorado, depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense. Every situation is unique, and it is therefore impossible to predict exactly what a person's punishment will be for a specific type of theft in Colorado. Generally, the severity of theft charges is based on the total value of the stolen property. Several factors, such as the age of the victim and the circumstances of the alleged crime, affect the sentence. A lot will depend on the quality of your legal counsel, the judge, the value of the property you stole, whether you stole property in the past and whether you used weapons or violence during the theft.
Below are the different levels of theft along with their penalties:
- Petty Theft: Property stolen is valued at less than $50. May result in incarceration of up to 6 months in jail, or a fine of no more than $500. No mandatory parole.
- Class 3 Misdemeanor: Property stolen is valued at $50 or more, but less than $300. May result in incarceration of up to 6 months in jail, and a fine between $50 and $750. No mandatory parole.
- Class 2 Misdemeanor: Property stolen is valued at $300 or more, but less than $750. May result in incarceration of at least 3 months and up to 1 year, and a fine of $150 to $1,000. No mandatory parole.
- Class 1 Misdemeanor: Property stolen is valued at $750 or more, but less than $2,000. May result in incarceration of at least 6 months and up to 18 months, and a fine of $500 to $5,000. No mandatory parole.
- Class 6 Felony: Property stolen is valued at $2,000 or more, but less than $5,000. May result in incarceration of at least 1 year and up to 18 months, and a fine of $1,000 to $10,000. 1 year mandatory parole after release.
- Class 5 Felony: Property stolen is valued at $5,000 or more, but less than $20,000. May result in incarceration of at least 1 year and up to 3 years, and a fine of $1,000 to $100,000. 1 year mandatory parole after release.
- Class 4 Felony: Property stolen is valued at $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000. May result in incarceration of at least 2 years and up to 6 years, and a fine of $2,000 to $500,000. 3 years mandatory parole after release.
- Class 3 Felony: Property stolen is valued at $100,000 or more, but less than $1,000,000. May result in incarceration of at least 4 years and up to 12 years, and a fine of $3,000 to $750,000. 5 years mandatory parole after release.
- Class 2 Felony: Property stolen is valued at $1,000,000 or more. May result in incarceration of at least 8 years and up to 12 years, and a fine of $5,000 to $1,000,000. 5 years mandatory parole after release.
In any case, if you're under suspicion or arrest for a theft crime in Colorado Springs, you owe it to yourself to immediately seek legal assistance from a theft defense lawyer.
It's not uncommon to think of theft as a minor crime that doesn't cause actual harm. However, in Colorado, stealing any denomination above $2,000 is considered a felony theft crime—and a felony conviction could seriously compromise your reputation, carry with it mandatory jail sentences, and affect your ability to get a job, vote, and more. Read on for more information on felony theft crimes and your legal rights.
How Is a Felony Theft Crime Defined?
Many different statutes cover theft crimes in Colorado, all of which define a felony as possession of a thing of value that belongs to another, with the intention to "permanently deprive" its owner of the object or thing. Several factors trigger an automatic felony charge: stealing the object from the body of a person (regardless of value), using a deadly weapon, and stealing objects or money valued above $2,000. Stealing from an employer or person who entrusted you with valuable objects is usually looked on more harshly than a one-time violation. In addition, prosecutors can choose to charge you for multiple thefts at once—if the value of multiple thefts equals $2,000 or more, it's a felony charge.
The term "grand theft" refers to more serious offenses, usually higher levels of felony offenses. In Colorado, the term "aggravated" is often used instead of "grand" and refers to situations in which a theft offense becomes more serious due to other factors. For example, any misdemeanor theft that occurs at someone's home is considered aggravated and becomes a felony even if the value of what was taken would not otherwise constitute a felony charge. Theft that includes threats of violence or the use of a weapon typically becomes "aggravated" and is a more serious charge.
This happens more frequently than you probably think. For instance, a shopper might take a tube of toothpaste into a store to make sure to buy the right kind. After finding the brand she is looking for, the shopper sticks the other tube back in her purse. A merchant who just sees this might assume the individual is shoplifting. There are rules in place to prevent such misunderstandings, but store owners, managers, and security personnel don't always follow them. If a merchant breaks any of these important rules, it will be difficult for them to prove their case in court. Your lawyer can help you explain the situation to the courts and hopefully get the charges dropped.
I Made a Mistake and Committed Theft. Should I Just Take the Punishment the Courts Decide to Give Me?
There is no reason to ruin your life over a single mistake. If the evidence against you is strong, you may have to pay a fine or spend some time in jail depending on the circumstances. On the other hand, if the other party has a weak case, a court may find you not guilty. You have a legal right to obtain the best defense possible to try to have your charges reduced or dropped. Clearing the matter up quickly and learning from your mistake is a positive way to deal with this unfortunate situation.
The passionate Colorado Springs theft defense attorneys at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., are prepared to use the full scope of their experience and skills in criminal law to gain you dropped charges. If not, then we will do our best to negotiate significantly reduced penalties or alternative sentencing options that do not involve any jail time or exorbitant fines. To learn more about your rights and options, contact our office today at (719) 475-2555.
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