FELONY THEFT IN COLORADO
Denver, Colorado, Felony Theft Attorneys
As discussed in our main theft page, thefts come in two sizes: felonies and misdemeanors. Felony theft can result in a sentence to prison, and misdemeanor theft can result in a sentence to the county jail for up to two years. An “in custody” sentence is not a foregone conclusion, as the majority of our clients who are found guilty of a Colorado theft crime end up on probation. This theft sentencing structure is the result of overcrowding in jails and prisons, and the reality that public safety is not as great risk from a criminal theft defendant as it is from sex or crime of violence defendant. The Colorado criminal justice system is starting to realize there are limitations on how many people it can afford to incarcerate, and as a result, priorities are emerging. Probation for persons convicted of theft in Colorado permits a person to remain free while reporting into a probation officer at regular intervals. Felony theft is very similar to robbery, minus the “force” element of robbery.
Classes of felony theft are as follows, based on the cumulative value of the items taken:
- A Class 6 felony if $2,000.00 to $4,999.99.
- A Class 5 felony if $5,000.00 to $19,999.00
- A Class 4 felony if $20,000.00 to $99,999.99
- A Class 3 felony if $100,000.00 to $999,999.99
- A Class 2 felony if over 1 million dollars.
Employer Theft Is Common
Most Colorado felony thefts under C.R.S. 18-4-401 in Adams County and other Colorado counties result from employer theft. Employees who are entrusted with and work regularly with money give in to the temptation to steal. This often occurs with frequent contact with cash transactions where systems of accountability are absent. Lately, we’ve seen a large number of financial transaction device thefts, where employees give themselves credit card or check refunds. Generally speaking, once an irregularity is spotted, it is a simple task to perform an audit and trace the money trail. That money trail is often very large, amounting to more than $100,000.
Judges consider employee theft more serious than stranger theft. The consensus is that employers must necessarily trust employees to have access to money or valuable items in order to function as a business. The trust extended in these employment relationships is usually not present in stranger theft. As a result, judges are more likely to impose jail sentences as a condition of probation.
On several occasions, we have seen employer-victims use the theft to cover the employer’s own dishonest acts, or as an opportunity to recover restitution beyond actual losses from the defendant or an insurance company. An example would be where a Colorado theft defendant has taken $80,000, yet the employer-victim reports losses to Colorado police and insurance as $800,000. All too often, busy police and court systems take the word of the employer-victim and require restitution for the amount claimed by the employer-victim even though proof of the large loss is absent. Insurance companies are obligated contractually to make their insured whole if some evidence of loss is available. With a theft conviction in a criminal court, it is generally easy for an employer-victim to embellish its losses to an insurance company.
Economic Crime Units At District Attorney Offices
In Denver County, Arapahoe County, Jefferson County, Douglas County and many other Colorado counties, the practice today is to refer prosecution of theft cases to an Economic Crimes Unit (“ECU”) at the district attorney’s office. This “unit” of government lawyers prosecutes all of the theft cases under Colorado Revised Statutes 18-4-401, especially those that are felonies. Felonies are generally charged when the theft item value is at least $2,000. The ECU will have a set of standardized probation terms for persons convicted of Colorado theft.
What Is Restitution?
In Denver, Lakewood, Littleton and surrounding Colorado counties, the ECU, courts and probation seek to ensure that future thefts are less likely, and to obtain restitution. These agencies ensure that future thefts are less likely by prohibiting the defendant on probation from working with money at his or her job, limiting bank accounts and tightly monitoring all monetary income of a defendant. Restitution involves repayment to a victim of damages or losses incurred as a result of the Colorado theft. The restitution amount can include the actual dollar value of the item taken as well as rewards, lost interest, lost use of money, future expenses directly related to the theft or costs to restore or clean up a loss. It does not include damages for pain and suffering or punitive damages. Colorado Courts and the legislature are trending toward a more liberal approach of including any loss related to a theft as recoverable restitution.
Our Approach – Our Experience
Our Colorado lawyers have defended hundreds of good people like you from theft charges in Denver County, Arapahoe County, Grand County, Douglas County, Weld County and other Colorado counties. Our case results speak for themselves. We take an aggressive approach to require strict proof of any theft allegations. We confidently approach judges and district attorneys to protect your rights. We find real solutions to guarding your criminal record and your need to find employment. In short, we are there for you. Come into our office for a free consultation and learn about your charges and options.
If you have been contacted by a Colorado police officer or your employer, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent and call us at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.