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Burglary Laws in Colorado

Burglary laws in Colorado provide for three degrees of burglary. In this article, we look at all three degrees of burglary as well as their associated penalties and possible defenses. For more about Colorado’s laws involving other various crimes of the theft, check out our overview of theft crimes in Colorado. You can also learn more about the related crime of robbery in our article, Robbery Laws in Colorado.

Colorado burglary

Burglary Under Colorado Law

In Colorado, the felony crime of “burglary” occurs when someone knowingly enters or unlawfully remains on another person’s property with the intent to commit a crime (excluding trespass). Depending on the type of property involved and the level of danger to anyone else inside the property, burglary will be classified as either first, second, or third-degree burglary.

The most serious form of burglary is first-degree burglary. Burglary laws in Colorado define this crime as knowingly entering another’s property with the intent to commit a crime and assaulting or menacing a person or using (or having and threatening to use) a deadline weapon in the process.

The next most serious crime of burglary under burglary laws in Colorado is second-degree burglary. This crime occurs when a person knowingly breaks an entrance into (or unlawfully remains inside after lawful or unlawful entry) a building or occupied structure with the intent to commit a crime against another person or property while inside. This crime can be either a class 4 felony or a class 3 felony depending on whether the building entered is a dwelling or the object of the burglary is a controlled substance or include firearms or ammunition.

The least serious felony crime of burglary under burglary laws in Colorado is third-degree burglary. This crime is committed when a person enters or breaks into any vault, safe, cash register, coin vending machine, product dispenser, money depository, safety deposit box, coin telephone, coin box or other similar equipment (even if not coin operated). This crime is typically a class 5 felony. However, it is a class 4 felony if it involves the theft of a controlled substance.

Penalties Under Burglary Laws in Colorado

First-degree burglary is typically a class 3 felony carrying penalties of 4 to 12 years in prison and/or a fine of $3,000 to $750,000. But if the burglary involved a controlled substance, it is a class 2 felony. A class 2 felony of burglary of a controlled substance carries prison time of 8 to 24 years and/or a fine of $5,000 to $1,000,000.

Second-degree burglary penalties depend on whether the crime involves a dwelling, controlled substances, firearms, or ammunition.  Where none of these is involved, second-degree burglary is a class 4 felony, which carries penalties including 2 to 6 years in prison and/or a fine of $2,000 to $500,000. If the second-degree burglary involves a dwelling, controlled substances, firearms, or ammunition, it is a class 3 felony punishable by 4 to 12 years in prison and/or a fine of $3,000 to $750,000.

Generally, third-degree burglary is a class 5 felony carrying possible penalties of 1 to 3 years in prison and/or fines between $1000 and $100,000. But if the crime involves the theft of a controlled substance lawfully kept in or on the property, it is classified as a class 4 felony. Such offense can carry penalties of 2 to 6 years in prison and/or a fine of $2,000 to $500,000.

Defenses for Crimes Committed Under Burglary Laws in Colorado

 If you are facing a burglary charge in Colorado, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you present defenses that apply to your case. Some of the possible defenses you could assert, depending on the specific type of burglary you’re charged with, include:

  • You were lawfully on another person’s property
  • You didn’t know you were unlawfully on another person’s property
  • You didn’t have the intent to commit a crime when you unlawfully entered the property
  • The drugs stolen don’t constitute a “controlled substance” under the law in Colorado
  • The relevant evidence was discovered during an illegal search or seizure

Given the very serious penalties for crimes committed under burglary laws in Colorado, a skilled criminal defense attorney can help you try to get the charges dismissed or at least reduced.

Need Legal Help?

If you are in need of criminal defense or family law help, consider reaching out to Colorado Lawyer Team for a free 30-minute consultation. Find more information at or call 970.670.0378.

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