Generally, theft involves taking the property of another, without authorization, with no intention of returning it. In Colorado, it is classified based on the value of the goods, money, or services taken, C.R.S. 18-4-401.
Similar to the crime of criminal mischief, classifications are:
•· $500 or less = Misdemeanor 2
•· Between $500 -$1000 = Misdemeanor 1
•· Between $1000 – $20,000 = Felony 4
•· $20,000 or greater = Felony 3
In Adams, Jefferson, and Denver county, these charges can range from shoplifting, to car theft, to embezzlement at work. Embezzlement, typically characterized as a white collar crime, is now prosecuted more vigorously in Denver, Douglas and Arapahoe county, and there is a recent push among prosecutors to seek jail or prison time for white collar crimes. Maybe the prisons have more room today than in recent past.
Most of my theft cases involve clients with no prior criminal history and no history of stealing. Instead, embezzlement cases usually involve an employee who is desperate and steals once, gets away with it in the short term, and then it turns into a long term habit. On one hand, I agree that all criminal conduct should be treated similarly, but the problem is that most clients are not responsible for stealing huge sums of money like Bernie Madoff. Instead, because of the court’s desire to demonstrate that white collar crimes are just as serious as other criminal activity, they have been handing out lengthy prison sentences for non violent crimes where the amount stolen is viewed as excessive.
Embezzlement, while becoming more common, is viewed more severely by the court system because of the damage that can be done to the business and because of the violation of trust. Typically, when looking at what consequences will arise for someone who has committed theft, courts look at whether the business suffered (i.e. bankruptcy, downsizing, or limit the business’ ability to access credit), the amount of the money stolen, and the length of time that the employee was stealing from the business. Another factor which often hurts employees is that they confess prior to hiring an attorney, thinking that taking responsibility will help them. In reality, a confession usually results in worse offers to resolve the case because the DA knows they have a slam dunk case.
If you or a loved one are being investigated for theft or embezzlement, consult an experienced attorney. We have spent years defending the accused against criminal cases across Colorado, and we can help you. So, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and call us today at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.