Theft Attorneys in Denver
Being in possession of another person’s property isn’t usually a crime. However, if that possession came by stealth, force or threat and there’s no intent to return it to its owner, the crime of theft may have occurred. In Colorado, there are several scenarios that can give rise to a theft charge, and people charged with that crime need the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect their rights and freedom while in the criminal justice system.
Defining the Crime
There are three essential elements to theft:
- intentionally taking the property of another;
- with no intent to return it, or
- while demanding an unjustified “consideration” before returning it. The “consideration” can be many things – other property or money, or a threat to the person or another person, as examples. CRS § 18-4-401.
Colorado rolls many types of criminal behaviors into the crime of theft:
- Embezzlement – stealing money that a person is legally authorized to handle;
- Robbery – using force or threats to gain another’s property;
- Identity theft – using another person’s identification to obtain property illegally;
- Shoplifting – taking merchandise from a store without intending to pay for it. This crime also includes the act of removing theft-prevention devices from goods, and
- Theft by Receiving – This variation of theft occurs when a person receives stolen property, and he or she knew it was stolen and received it with no intent to return it to its owner.
These are just a few of Colorado’s defined theft crimes.
Penalties for Theft Crimes
Colorado also classifies theft crimes as felonies or misdemeanors based on the “value of the thing involved.” Felony theft involves “things” valued at more than $1,000. Additionally, the number of theft incidents caused by a single person within a six-month period can escalate even misdemeanor theft crimes into an aggregated felony crime. CRS § 18-4-401(4).
Defenses to Theft Charges
As with all crimes, the crime of theft occurs when the person accused has the intention to take and keep or destroy another’s property. Ergo, if the State can’t prove intent, then it can’t prove a crime occurred. There are many ways to demonstrate a lack of intent to steal:
- If the accused honestly believed the thing stolen was his or her personal property.
- If the accused honestly believed the thing was abandoned;
- If the accused was mistaken as to the ownership of the thing, or
- If the accused honestly believed he or she had the right to take and/or keep the thing by virtue of their role or occupation.
Mistakes happen and errors in judgment occur. If you’ve been charged with a theft crime, the skilled criminal defense attorneys at Pollart Miller will work hard to reduce or eliminate your exposure to prosecution and punishment.