Colorado Robbery Laws
(Colorado 18-4-301, 18-4-302 and 18-4 -303 C.R.S.)

robber pointing gun and holding out hand

What is robbery?

You commit the felony crime of robbery when you knowingly take anything of value directly from another person or in another person's presence by the use of force, threats, or intimidation.

Colorado law recognizes three types of robbery. In increasing order of seriousness they are:

  • Robbery -- Colorado 18-4-301 C.R.S.;
  • Aggravated robbery – Colorado 18-4-302 C.R.S.; and
  • Aggravated robbery of controlled substances – Colorado 18-4-303 C.R.S.

The chief difference between these three crimes involves:

  • Whether a deadly weapon was used or threatened, and
  • Whether the object of the robbery was the theft of any controlled substance(s).

Penalties for Colorado robbery

Simple robbery is a Colorado class 4 felony. Punishment can include:

  • Up to 6 years in prison, and/or
  • A fine of $2,000-$500,000.

There is mandatory prison time of at least 4 years (and possibly as many as 12) if the victim is an "at-risk" elder (someone over 70) or is a disabled person.

And if you use or threaten the use of a deadly weapon, you commit aggravated robbery. Penalties for aggravated robbery include a potential fine of up to $750,000 and a mandatory prison sentence of:

  • Up to 32 years, or 
  • Up to 48 years if it involved controlled substances.

Colorado robbery defenses

In all cases of alleged robbery, the prosecutor must prove that you knowingly committed every element. In practice, this can often be difficult to do.
Other common defenses to the various robbery charges can include (but are not limited to):

  • You didn't intend to take anything,
  • The property was yours (or you reasonably believed it was yours),
  • You didn't have a deadly weapon,
  • You had a deadly weapon, but no intention of using it, or
  • The goods or other evidence was discovered during an illegal search and seizure.

To help you better understand Colorado's robbery laws, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following, below:

man in black grabbing purse from woman on street

1. How Colorado defines robbery

1.1. Robbery -- Colorado 18-4-301 C.R.S.

Section 18-4-301 (1) of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) provides:

A person who knowingly takes anything of value from the person or presence of another by the use of force, threats, or intimidation commits robbery.

Force or fear is the main element of the offense of robbery.1 However, it is not the only one. If the property was yours, or you were taking it to return it to the rightful owner, you are not guilty of robbery.2

Property is taken “from the presence of another” for purposes of the robbery statute when, but for the force, threats, or intimidation directed against the victim by the perpetrator, the victim would be able to retain control over the property.3

1.2. Aggravated robbery – Colorado 18-4-302 C.R.S.

Robbery rises to Colorado aggravated robbery if, at any time during the robbery or the immediate flight therefrom:

  • The robber or an accomplice is armed with a deadly weapon with intent, if resisted, to kill, maim, or wound the person robbed or any other person; or
  • The robber or an accomplice knowingly wounds or strikes another person with a deadly weapon or, by the use of force, threats, or intimidation with a deadly weapon, knowingly puts the person robbed or any other person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury; or
  • The robber represents that he or she is armed with a deadly weapon or the robber possesses any article used or fashioned so as to lead someone present reasonably to believe it to be a deadly weapon.

1.3. Aggravated robbery of controlled substances – 18-4-303 C.R.S.

You commit the crime of aggravated robbery of controlled substances when:

  1. You commit aggravated robbery, and 
  2. The object of the robbery is to take any controlled substance(s) from a pharmacy or pharmacist or another place or a person having lawful possession of the drugs.

2. Consequences of a Colorado robbery conviction

2.1. Robbery penalties

Simple robbery is a Colorado class 4 felony. Punishment can include:

  • 2-6 years in prison (with 3 years mandatory parole), and/or
  • A fine of $2,000-$500,000.

However, if the victim was 70 years or older or was disabled, consequences of robbery increase to:

  • 4-12 years in prison (with at least 4 years mandatory, plus at least 5 years mandatory parole upon release), and
  • A fine of up to $500,000.

2.2. Aggravated robbery penalties

Aggravated robbery is a Colorado class 3 felony and as well as a Colorado extraordinary risk crime. Consequences of aggravated robbery can include:

  • 4-16 years in prison (with 5-years mandatory parole), and
  • A fine of up to $750,000.

The maximum prison sentence increases to 32 years (with a mandatory minimum of 10) if during the robbery or in flight therefrom:

  • You used or threatened the use of a deadly weapon, or 
  • If anyone was seriously injured.

2.3. Penalties for aggravated robbery of controlled substances

When the object of an aggravated robbery is to take any controlled substance from a pharmacy or other place or a person having lawful possession of the controlled substance(s), the crime is aggravated robbery of controlled substances, 18-4-303 C.R.S.

Aggravated robbery of controlled substances is Colorado class 2 felony Penalties can include:

  • 16-48 in prison (plus 5-years mandatory parole), and
  • A possible fine of $5,000-$1,000,000.

3. Defenses to Colorado burglary charges

The best defense to Colorado burglary charges depend on the specific crime charged and the facts of your cases. However, complete or partial defenses will often include (but are not limited to):

  • You were the victim of mistaken identification,
  • The property was yours and being wrongfully withheld from you,
  • You didn't know that the property was not yours,
  • You didn't intend to take anything,
  • You didn't have a deadly weapon,
  • You had a deadly weapon, but no intention of using it,
  • You didn't use force, threats or intimidation,
  • The drugs the police found weren't stolen,
  • Your theft of drugs was opportunistic (that is, you weren't there for the purpose of stealing drugs),
  • The police found the evidence against you during an illegal search and seizure, or
  • There was other police misconduct.

Call us for help…

call center receptionist

Robbery cases can seem open-and-shut – however, often they are not. The prosecutor has to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. That means proving that you committed the crime, that you had the requisite criminal intent, and that you knowingly committed every element.

Our compassionate Colorado robbery lawyers know that innocent people are accused of robbery all the time. Or people are charged even when the prosecution's case is weak. Furthermore, the prosecution doesn't always care whether they've gotten the right person – but at the Colorado Legal Defense Group we do.

We invite you to contact us for a free consultation if you or someone you know has been accused of Colorado robbery, aggravated robbery or aggravated robbery of a controlled substance.

One of our experienced Colorado criminal lawyers will get back to you quickly to discuss the facts of your case and the best defense to your Colorado robbery charges.

Communities we serve include Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, Thornton, Arvada, Westminster, Centennial and Boulder.

To reach us, simply fill out the confidential form on this page, or call us at our Denver home office:

Colorado Legal Defense Group
1400 16th Street
16 Market Square
Denver CO 80202
720-955-6112


Legal references:

  1. People v. Thomas, 1973, 509 P.2d 592, 181 Colo. 317.
  2. People v. Gallegos, 1954, 274 P.2d 608, 130 Colo. 232.
  3. People v. James, App.1998, 981 P.2d 637, rehearing denied, certiorari denied.

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