Theft Attorney in Castle Rock, Colorado
Although theft and larceny charges often come with less severe penalties than violent crimes, they still need to be taken seriously. In fact, the state of Colorado has seen incidents of theft rise considerably in the last few years, especially for motor vehicle theft. According to the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority (CAPTA), in 2021 alone there were over 42,000 incidents of attempted and completed car theft.
If you’ve recently been charged with theft and would like to speak with a criminal defense attorney about your case, give us a call at the Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC. We can serve individuals in the Castle Rock, Colorado region including Parker, Lone Tree, Highland Ranch, Larkspur, Castle Pines, Franktown, Elizabeth, Kiowa, and Centennial.
Under Colorado law, a theft charge is broadly defined and means a person has obtained or is in control of something that doesn’t belong to them without the owner’s permission. This could refer to a physical piece of property or anything of value, like refusing to pay for a service rendered. You could also face theft charges even if you weren’t the one who actually stole the item or service in the first place. Simply receiving stolen property can also result in a theft charge.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor
One major distinction that will affect the possible penalties for theft is whether it’s classified as a felony or misdemeanor charge. Misdemeanor charges usually carry with them less serious charges and are broken into four levels of severity. Class 1 is the lowest and is generally applied to petty theft of items of less than $50 in value. Class 4 is the most severe and covers theft of items valued at over $750 but less than $2,000.
A felony charge is more serious. These charges are divided into five levels (Class 6 to Class 2) based on the value of goods stolen. Class 6 charges are for items valued at between $2,000 and $5,000, while Class 2 (the most severe) is for stolen items or services valued at over $1 million.
Types of Theft
A larceny charge can apply to many different types of theft, and the two main classifications are petty theft and grand theft. Petty theft is almost always a misdemeanor while grand theft is considered a felony. Grand theft usually refers to incidents where the value of stolen goods or services is over a certain dollar amount (around $2,000 in Colorado), and often includes theft of specific items such as vehicles or animals.
A shoplifting charge (also called “merchandise theft”) is very common, but this doesn’t mean that you should ignore it. Shoplifting can refer to actually stealing an item in a store or retail establishment, but it can also include altering a price tag, removing anti-theft devices, attempting to return a stolen item to a store for a refund, or taking an item out of its original packaging and attempting to conceal it among other items. The penalties for shoplifting will depend on what was stolen and whether you have a criminal record. If this is your first offense, you may be eligible for a diversion program and if you successfully complete it, your charges may be dropped. In other cases, you could be facing fines as well as jail time.
Possible Penalties for Theft Charges
The range of penalties for theft is extensive and depends on a number of factors. Penalties will be more severe for repeat offenders, those who steal merchandise of a high value, and those who are facing multiple charges in addition to theft. You could be held civilly liable for the items you stole and made to reimburse the value to the original owner. You could also face fines, jail time, probation, and the conviction remaining on your permanent record which could affect your opportunities for future employment or housing.
Common Theft Defenses
When you work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, they’ll take the time to listen to your side of the story, examine the evidence thoroughly, and work with you to construct your defense. This will be tailored to your specific case and the laws surrounding it. However, there are common theft defenses that could be applied. One frequent defense is that the individual didn’t intend to steal the item at all, and it was an honest mistake. Maybe someone else placed the item in your bag or pocket without you knowing or you could have genuinely thought the item was given to you by the owner.
Another defense has to do with law enforcement and whether or not they performed a legal search of your belongings. If they did not have probable cause that you had stolen something and searched you illegally, it’s possible to have your case dismissed on these grounds.
Serving Castle Rock, CO
If you're in the Castle Rock, Colorado area and would like to speak with someone about a recent theft charge, call us at the Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC today. Just because you were charged with a crime doesn’t mean you’ll be convicted of it. The best way to help yourself is to speak with an attorney immediately. Reach out today to set up a consultation.