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Theft

Posted in Blog on May 23, 2013

Theft is a serious offense in the state of Colorado, and if you’ve been charged and arrested, you need an experienced team of Colorado criminal lawyers at your back, attorneys who are committed to protecting your legal rights in the face of grave charges. You only get one opportunity to have your charges dismissed, so don’t waste it trying to defend yourself in lieu of hiring a professional.

Theft

Not only is theft a serious offense, the statutory scheme can be very complicated, especially without without the assistance of an attorney. For example, depending on the value of the stolen property, the theft charge can range from a class 2 Misdemeanor all the way up to a class 3 Felony (which carries a presumptive sentence range of 4-12 years in prison.) The statutory scheme works as follows:

  • A class 2 misdemeanor if the value of the thing involved is less than five hundred dollars;
  • A class 1 misdemeanor if the value of the thing involved is five hundred dollars or more but less than one thousand dollars;
  • A class 4 felony if the value of the thing involved is one thousand dollars or more but less than twenty thousand dollars;
  • A class 3 felony if the value of the thing involved is twenty thousand dollars or more.

However, there are other variables that can affect the degree of the charge. If two thefts are committed within a six month period, the amount of the stolen property may be aggregated, or combined, thereby increasing the severity of the felony.  If two or more theft are committed against the same person, the amount of the stolen property may similarly be aggregated, leading to a more severe felony.  Finally, accomplishing the theft of another by force or threat can also change the severity of the charge.

Aggravated Theft of a Motor Vehicle

If you are alleged to have stolen a motor vehicle, you may be charged with Aggravated Theft of a Motor Vehicle. This statute can be even more complicated than Theft.  Prosecutors look at a variety of factors including:

  • Whether the suspect had the vehicle for over 24 hours
  • Whether the suspected  attempts to alter or disguise the appearance of the motor vehicle;
  • Whether the suspect attempts to alter or remove or alters or removes the vehicle identification number;
  • Whether the suspect uses the motor vehicle in the commission of a crime other than a traffic offense;
  • Whether the suspect causes five hundred dollars or more property damage
  • Whether the suspect causes bodily injury to another person while he or she is in the exercise of control of the motor vehicle; or
  • Whether the suspect removes the motor vehicle from this state for a period of time in excess of twelve hours; or

The penalties for this charge range from a Class 1 Misdemeanor (if the car is valued less than $1,000) up to a Class 3 Felony which carries with it a presumptive range of 4-12 years in prison.  Regardless of the charge, you will want your rights protected by a Colorado Criminal Lawyer from day one.

Theft Defenses Your Colorado Criminal Lawyers May Utilize

A common theft defense is that the accused lacked specific intent to commit the crime, and since theft is predicated on specific intent, the lack thereof precludes conviction.

Theft is defined as the intent to permanently deprive the owner of his or her property; this leaves a loophole for “borrowing” and for accidental seizures, such as if someone leaves someone else’s property in your car (e.g. computer, jewelry, cell phones), or your toddler knocks something off a grocery shelf and into your cart that you overlooked during checkout.

In order for this defense to be effective, the judge has to believe your side of the story, however, which is where the importance of a dedicated team of Denver, Colorado criminal lawyers becomes so apparent.

There are other theft charges that include similar defenses that your attorney may employ:

  • False pretenses – if you misrepresent the truth in order to persuade someone to transfer property to you, and the ownership is never actually transferred, then you have not committed false pretenses or theft..
  • Theft by possession – this charge is often levied against unbeknownst purchasers of second-hand or used goods that were actually stolen. If you didn’t know the property you purchased was stolen, you can’t be convicted of this charge.

The prosecution is already building its case against you – they prosecute hundreds of these cases per month and they know how to work the system.   The truth is that the prosecutors hold nearly all of the advantages in a Theft  prosecution.   With the full power of the State on their side, the last thing you want to do is walk into that courtroom alone, with no knowledge of the law or the consequences of pleading guilty. Make no mistake, the prosecutors are not your friends and are concerned only with securing convictions and ensuring “justice” is delivered.

The only way to level the playing field against the State is to have an experienced and dedicated Denver Criminal Defense lawyer who will aggressively defend your rights and fight tenaciously on your behalf.  You need a Criminal Defense attorney who knows prosecutors, knows the judges, has a proven track record of winning the most difficult cases, and most importantly, knows how to work the system to obtain the best results.

Reach out to our team of Colorado criminal lawyers and schedule a FREE consultation at our law offices.

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