What Does a Shoplifting Charge Mean in Colorado?

In the Centennial state, shoplifting falls under the umbrella of theft offenses. Depending on where the shoplifting occurs, jurisdictionally, the resulting charges may be filed in either municipal court or county court. Municipal Court offenses typically occur within the municipality, like a city, where county court cases will occur within the jurisdiction, such as the county, and may occur within the municipality as well.


What Does a Shoplifting Charge Mean in ColoradoTheft, generally, occurs where a person knowingly obtains, retains, or exercises control over anything of value of another without authorization and intends to deprive the other person permanently of the use or benefit of the thing of value. C.R.S. § 18-4-401(1)(a). Shoplifting is a subset of theft offense and includes an additional element of the property being offered for sale by a mercantile establishment. To read the full text of the Colorado Theft statute, C.R.S. § 18-4-401, click here. You can also review the Colorado Springs Shoplifting Municipal statute 9.6.401 here and the Denver City Shoplifting statute Sec. 38-51.5 here. The penalties for theft are based on the value of the stolen property. Shoplifting offenses are generally applicable to lower value losses and are set out in the respective statutes.

Store owners are allowed to detain and question an individual pursuant to the Shopkeeper’s privilege. This privilege allows store owners, loss prevention employees, and law enforcement officers to detain and question a person, without liability, if they are acting in good faith and have probable cause to believe a theft has occurred. See C.R.S. § 18-4-407. Store owners also have the standing to sue the parents or legal guardians of shoplifters who are minors.

Penalties for Shoplifting

Potential criminal penalties for theft or shoplifting will vary depending on the value of the items stolen. Please keep in mind that the following charges, by themselves, are all eligible for probation. Other circumstances, relative to the individual charged, may alter the potential penalties.

Value of stolen items                         Charge                               Penalty

Less than $50                          Class 1 petty offense                 0-6 months jail time. Up to $500 fine.

$50-$300                                 Class 3 misdemeanor                 0-6 months jail time. $50-750 fine.

$300-$750                               Class 2 misdemeanor                 3-12 months jail time. $250-1,000 fine.

$750-$2,000                           Class 1 misdemeanor                 6-18 months jail time. $500-5,000 fine.

$2,000-$5,000                       Class 6 felony                             6-18 months DOC followed by 1 year of parole. $1,000-100,000 fine.

Pre-trial Diversion

In some counties in Colorado, you may be offered what is known as a pretrial diversion program. These programs vary across the state and are typically only offered to first time offenders. If you complete the requirements of the program – which may include community service or paying restitution – the shoplifting charges may be dismissed or the prosecution may elect not to formally file charges. The availability and eligibility for these programs vary by county.

Why You Should Get Legal Help

If you have been accused of shoplifting or theft in Colorado it is important that you seek help from an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney will be able to explain your situation and your options for presenting your best defense, participating in a pretrial diversion program or negotiating a plea bargain, so that your exposure to criminal penalties is limited. While a shoplifting ticket may seem minor at the time, there may be collateral consequences down the line related to a theft or shoplifting conviction.

If you or a family member has been arrested for shoplifting you should contact our team at The Bussey Law Firm as soon as possible. Call today and we can discuss your situation. The number to dial is (719) 475-2555.