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Accused of theft in Colorado? Here is what you need to know.

In Colorado, state law uses the term theft as a general one to describe a number of crimes. These crimes include larceny, stealing, embezzlement, false pretenses or shoplifting. Lawmakers included all of these terms as theft to remove technicalities that used to make it difficult to prove these crimes. Arguably, this makes it easier for both the prosecution and defense to understand what the law requires to move forward with a defense or conviction.

What does the law require for the prosecution to move forward with theft charges?

The prosecution will essentially need to establish two things. First, that the accused took a piece of property. Second, that the accused intended to permanently take the property away from the other individual.

It is important to note that criminal charges can extend to those who did not actively partake in the crime. The prosecution could also press charges against those who fail to return stolen items.

What are the penalties for theft?

In Colorado, the penalty is generally determined by the value of the object involved in the crime. The law generally classifies objects stolen with a value under $50 as a Class 1 Petty Offense. Penalties include to 6 months in jail and $500 in fines. State law generally classifies a theft of objects with a value from $50 to $2,000 as misdemeanors. The charges and potential penalties for these crimes break down as followed: object at issue a value between $50 and $300 a Class 3 Misdemeanor with up to 6 months in jail and a $750 fine, $300 to $750 a Class 2 Misdemeanor with up to 1 year imprisonment and $1,000 in fines and $750 to $2,000 a Class 1 Misdemeanor with up to 1.5 years in prison $5,000 in fines.

The accused can face felony charges when the object involved in the alleged theft has a value higher than $2,000. These charges break down as follows: $2,000 to $5,000 a Class 6 Felony punishable by up to 1.5 years in prison and $100,000 in fines, $5,000 to $20,000 a Class 5 Felony with up to 3 years in prison and $100,000 in fines, from $20,000 to $100,000 a Class 4 Felony and up to 6 years imprisonment and $500,000 in fines, $100,000 to $1 million a Class 3 Felony with up to 12 years imprisonment and a $750,000 fines and a value of over $1 million can face a Class 2 Felony with up to 24 years imprisonment and $1 million in fines.

The penalties are harsh. In some cases the fines may exceed the value of the stolen object. As a result, those who face allegations of a theft crime are wise to act to defend their freedom.

Are there defenses to theft charges?

Yes. There are many defenses available for those who are accused of a theft crime. These can include duress, involuntary intoxication, an impaired mental condition and insanity. Age can also be a factor. In most cases, the state cannot charge a child under the age of ten with a theft crime. The right defense strategy will depend on the details of the allegations. It is wise to seek legal counsel to explore these and other options to better ensure your legal rights are protected throughout the process.