Many people consider shoplifting a minor offense and would not be too concerned if facing charges. However, they would be mistaken. In Colorado, shoplifting is taken very seriously and addressed under the same statutory scheme as any other crime involving stolen items. If you are under suspicion for such wrongdoing, it may be in your best interest to contact a knowledgeable Greenwood Village shoplifting lawyer. The Colorado Lawyer Team can take the lead in your theft case and help you avoid the penalties.
Is Shoplifting Considered Theft?
Colorado does not identify a specific crime called shoplifting. Instead, the law recognizes and punishes this illegal behavior as any other theft. C.R.S. § 18-4-401(1) defines theft, and therefore shoplifting, as knowingly obtaining control of another’s property with the plan to deprive the owner of its use or benefit permanently.
Shoplifting may involve several behaviors beyond what is traditionally associated with this crime – taking something from a store without paying for it. The following actions may also support an indictment on shoplifting:
- Moving goods from one place in the store to another
- Concealing or hiding items
- Manipulating or altering pricing on shelving or tags
- Changing packaging to avoid paying full price
Under this broad application of the law, placing an item in a purse but not walking out of the store may constitute shoplifting. Similarly, swapping a price tag on an item for one with a lower value may also bring such charges. As people move about a store shopping, they may unintentionally engage in activities that authorities might view as illegal. With one of our trained shoplifting attorneys on their side, suspects may persuasively explain their side of the story to avoid harsh penalties and social stigma.
Penalties Under Colorado Theft Law
The punishments for this transgression vary, as outlined in C.R.S. § 18-4-401(2), and depend on the value of the goods stolen. Under C.R.S. 18-1.3-503, punishment starts at a maximum of 6 months in jail and fines of $500 for petty offenses (where the value of the goods does not exceed $50). Misdemeanor charges apply for goods valued between $50 and $2,000. If the goods’ value exceeds $2,000, a suspect faces felony charges.
Misdemeanor shoplifting can be a class 1, 2, or 3 crime. M1 offenses receive the harshest penalties – jail terms up to 18 months and fines up to $5,000. At the lower end are M3 offenses, which carry maximum sentences of 6 months confinement and $750 fines.
When the theft rises to the felony level, charges range from F2 to F6. C.R.S. 18-1.3-401 establishes the recommended punishments for each classification. Starting at the lowest level, F6 exposes suspects to 12 to 18 months incarceration and $1,000 fines. F2 crimes carry the most onerous penalties of 18 to 24 years in prison and fines not to exceed $1 million. If a person engages in this illegal behavior twice in 6 months or more than once against the same owner, authorities may combine the incidents into one charge, which will aggregate the value of the goods and may increase the charge class.
Regardless of the offense classification, a shoplifting conviction can exact a heavy toll on a person’s future and financial stability. Suspects should take these charges seriously, and our dedicated shoplifting litigators are ready to help those accused defend themselves.
Other Consequences of a Shoplifting Conviction
Even if charged with petty shoplifting and contending with only minor penalties, those found guilty will have a criminal record. A criminal record may bring embarrassment and loss of social standing. Prior transgressions will come up in background checks and may result in lost access to loans, mortgages, higher education, professional licenses, and even deportation, if applicable. We work with those accused to address all these concerns.
Protect Your Future by Hiring an Experienced Greenwood Village Shoplifting Attorney
Do not underestimate the seriousness of shoplifting allegations. Call a Greenwood Village shoplifting lawyer to fully understand the charges against you and how to defend yourself properly. Get started on your defense right away.