Colorado Misdemeanor and Felony Theft Laws

Learn about Colorado's criminal and civil penalties for theft.

Under Colorado law, theft occurs when a person “knowingly obtains or exercises control over" anything of value (such as property or services) belonging to another, by deception or without the owner's permission, and intends to deprive the owner permanently of the property

(Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-4-401 (2020).)

Colorado law also identifies several specific types of theft, including:

  • theft of trade secrets
  • aggravated motor vehicle theft
  • theft of medical records
  • theft by resale of ski lift ticket or coupon
  • theft of sound recordings
  • theft of cable television services, and
  • theft of public transportation services.

This article will provide an overview of the general theft statutes involving theft of property or services. Be sure to check the state code for information on specific theft offenses. (Colo. Rev. Stat. tit. 18, art. 4 (2020).)

Classification of Theft Offenses and Punishment

Like many states, Colorado law classifies theft as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the items stolen. Below are the various levels of theft classified under Colorado law.

Misdemeanor and Petty Theft

Colorado has four levels of misdemeanor and petty theft. Below are the classifications based on the value of the property or services stolen.

Class 1 petty offense. Value of property or services stolen is less than $50. The offender faces a maximum penalty of 6 months’ imprisonment, a $500 fine, or both.

Class 3 misdemeanor. Value of property or services stolen is $50 or more but less than $300. The offender faces a maximum penalty of 6 months’ imprisonment, a $750 fine, or both.

Class 2 misdemeanor. Value of property or services stolen is $300 or more but less than $750. The offender faces a maximum penalty of 364 days’ imprisonment, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Class 1 misdemeanor. Value of property or services stolen is $750 or more but less than $2,000. The offender faces a maximum penalty of 18 months’ imprisonment, a $5,000 fine, or both.

Felony or Grand Theft

Colorado divides felony theft into five classifications based on the amount stolen.

Class 6 felony. Value of property or services stolen is $2,000 or more but less than $5,000. The offender faces a maximum penalty of 18 months’ imprisonment, a $100,000 fine, or both.

Class 5 felony. Value of property or services stolen is $5,000 or more but less than $20,000. The offender faces a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment, a $100,000 fine, or both.

Class 4 felony. Value of property or services stolen is $20,000 or more but less than $100,000. The offender faces a maximum penalty of six years’ imprisonment, a $500,000 fine, or both.

Class 3 felony. Value of property or services stolen is $100,000 or more but less than $1,000,000. The offender faces a maximum penalty of 12 years’ imprisonment, a $750,000 fine, or both.

Class 2 felony. Value of property or services stolen is $1,000,000 or more. The offender faces a maximum penalty of 24 years’ imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine, or both.

(Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-1.3-401, -501 (2020).)

Enhanced Penalties for Repeat Offenders

Colorado law increases the maximum possible sentence for habitual felons (repeat felony offenders).

Repeat felons. The enhancement depends on the felony classification of the current and prior offenses, the number of prior convictions, and the time period between convictions. Generally, a third-time felon faces a punishment up to three times the maximum sentence, and a fourth-time felon faces up to four times the maximum sentence.

Repeat shoplifter. Also, anyone convicted, within four years, of a third felony-level theft involving merchandise taken from a store must receive the minimum sentence term and is not be eligible for probation or a suspended sentence.

(Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-801, 18-4-413 (2020).)

Shoplifting: Criminal and Civil Penalties

Many (if not all) states allow civil penalties in addition to criminal penalties for shoplifting offense. The civil penalties are meant to deter shoplifters and compensate store owners for the costs incurred to prevent and "prosecute" (sue) shoplifters.

In Colorado, criminal penalties for shoplifting fall under the penalties above for theft. Additionally, a person who commits shoplifting in Colorado (or the parent or legal guardian of a minor who commits shoplifting) can be held civilly liable to the store owner for actual damages, plus an additional penalty of from $100 to $250, payable to the store owner. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-107.5 (2020).)

Talk to a Lawyer

If you've been charged with theft or shoplifting, speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help protect your rights, explain the criminal justice process, and evaluate and raise possible defenses. Even if you're charged with petty or misdemeanor theft, you might want to consult with an attorney. A criminal theft record can impact your ability down the road to get a job, housing, or loan.

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