The difference between theft, robbery and burglary in Colorado
In Colorado, you commit theft when you take anything of value belonging to another person without that person's consent. Depending on the value of the property stolen, theft can be a petty offense, a misdemeanor or a felony.
If, however, you knowingly take property from someone by the use of force, threats, or intimidation, it becomes robbery, which is always a felony.
And if you wrongfully enter property in order to commit theft or any other crime (not just theft) it is burglary. Burglary is always a felony (as is the unlawful possession of burglary tools, such as crowbars, lock picks, and blowtorches).
Penalties for theft, robbery and burglary are harsher than you might expect. They can include many years in a Colorado prison, especially if someone was harmed or the goal was to obtain a controlled substance.
Colorado theft crimes lawyers fighting for you
It can often seem that charges of theft, robbery or burglary are a slam dunk because you were caught with stolen goods.
However, our compassionate Colorado theft attorneys understand that there are many reasons why you may have been accused, including mistaken witness identification or unknowing receipt of stolen goods. We also know that the cops frequently make mistakes. Whether you were the victim of an illegal search and seizure or other police misconduct, our meticulous research of your case will turn up all the problems with the prosecutor's case.
To help you better understand the consequences of theft, robbery and burglary, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following, below:
- 1. Colorado theft laws -- 18-4-401, C.R.S.
- 2. Colorado robbery laws -- 18-4-301, C.R.S.
- 3. Colorado burglary laws -- 8-4-201, C.R.S.
- 4. Defenses to Colorado theft, robbery and burglary charges
- 5. Call us for help…
You commit theft under when you knowingly obtain anything of value from another person with the intent to deprive that person permanently of the property. This includes theft by threat, deception, fraud or simply refusing to return it.
Penalties for theft in Colorado are set forth in Title 18, Article 4 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.). Theft can be a petty offense, a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the item stolen.
If the total value of the item(s) stolen is less than $50, theft is a petty offense. Anything worth $50 or more, but less than $2,000, is a misdemeanor. And if the value of the property is $2,000 or more, theft is a felony.
Colorado theft penalties start low but increase rapidly as the value of property goes up. When the property is worth $1,000,000 or more, consequences can include as much as 24 years in prison.1
Colorado theft laws also cover, among other crimes:
- 18-4-404, C.R.S. -- obtaining control over any stolen thing of value (receiving stolen property)
- 18-4-408, C.R.S. -- theft of trade secrets
- 18–4–409, C.R.S. -- aggravated motor vehicle theft (also known as "grand theft auto"), and
- 18-4-420, C.R.S. -- chop shop activity.
In essence, robbery is theft accomplished by the use of force, threats, or intimidation.2
Simple robbery is a class 4 felony. Consequences can include 2-6 years in prison, but can be as much as 16 years for aggravated robbery3
or 28 years for aggravated robbery of a controlled substance.4
Colorado aggravated robbery occurs when:
You or a confederate is armed with a deadly weapon (or any article that appears to be a deadly weapon) and either of you:
- Intends, if resisted, to kill, maim, or wound the person you are robbing or any other person;
- Knowingly wounds or strikes the person robbed or any other person with a deadly weapon;
- By carrying a deadly weapon and using force, threats, or intimidation knowingly puts the person robbed or any other person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury.
It is a common misconception that burglary is simply theft via breaking and entering.
In actuality, you commit burglary when you wrongfully enter or stay on someone else's property with the intent of committing any crime (other than trespass). It is not burglary however, if you enter the premises legally and only decide to commit a crime once you are there.
You also commit burglary when you break into a locked container, such as a safe or a vault.
Colorado burglary falls into four basic categories:
- Third degree burglary, 18-4-204, C.R.S., involves breaking into a vault, safe, or other locked container with the intent to commit a crime (usually theft);
- Second degree burglary, 18-4-203, C.R.S., consists of knowingly breaking into or remaining unlawfully in a building or occupied structure with the intent to commit a crime;
- First degree burglary, 18-4-202, C.R.S., is the same as 2nd degree burglary, except that someone inside the structure is assaulted or menaced; and
- Possession of burglary tools, 18-4-205, C.R.S., which punished possession of any explosive, tool, instrument, or other article intended to help gain forcible entry or physically steal an object).
Consequences of second degree burglary start at 2-6 years in prison when the structure is a business. Penalties increase significantly, however, when:
- The building is a dwelling,
- You intend to steal a controlled substance, or
- You use a deadly weapon.
The best defense in a Colorado theft, robbery or burglary case depends on the precise charges and circumstances. However, defenses we often present include (but are not limited to):
- The property was yours,
- The other person gave you the property,
- You were just borrowing the property,
- The property was worth less than the prosecution claims,
- You weren't armed,
- You didn't threaten anyone,
- You were lawfully on the property,
- You didn't enter the building intending to commit a crime,
- You weren't there to steal drugs.
Colorado theft, robber and burglary charges can carry serious potential consequences, not the least of which is many years in a Colorado prison (not jail).
Our caring and experienced Colorado and Denver theft crimes lawyers understand how the police and prosecutors build their cases. We know how to defend them, which we do with every tool at our disposal.
Intent can be hard to prove -- which is why you want us in your corner. We will present a vigorous defense and do whatever we legally can to keep you out of prison and preserve your freedom.
If you or someone you know has been charged with theft, robbery or burglary in Colorado, we invite you to call us for a free consultation. For the quickest response, just fill out the form on this page. Or call us at our Denver home office, conveniently located near both Interstate 25 and the I-70 corridor:
Colorado Legal Defense Group
1400 16th Street
16 Market Square
Denver CO 80202
- 18-4-401, C.R.S.
- 18-4-301, C.R.S.
- 18-4-302, C.R.S.
- 18-4-303, C.R.S.