Colorado Theft (a/k/a Larceny)
(18-4-401 C.R.S.)

woman putting stolen jeans into her purse

Colorado petty, misdemeanor and felony theft

In Colorado, the penalty for theft depends on:

  • The value of the item taken,
  • Whether the victim is considered “at risk” (elderly or disabled), and
  • The means by which the item was stolen.

Acts prohibited by Colorado's theft law include, without limitation:

  • Shoplifting (theft by concealment),
  • Passing bad checks,
  • Con games,
  • Theft by fraud, false pretenses and deception,
  • Theft by criminal extortion,
  • Petty theft, and
  • Embezzlement.

Consequences of Colorado theft

Stealing an item worth less than $50 is a petty offense (petty theft) that can be punished by:

  • A fine of up to $500, and/or 
  • Up to 6 months in jail.

Theft of anything worth over $50 but less than $2,000 is a misdemeanor. Consequences of misdemeanor theft range from:

  • Probation to 18 months in jail, and/or 
  • a fine of up to $5,000.

Theft of anything worth more than $5,000 is a felony. Depending on the value of the item(s), Colorado felony theft can be punished by:

  • 1-24 years in prison, and/or
  • A fine of $1,000-$1,000,000.

Get help from a top Colorado theft lawyer

To help you better understand Colorado's theft / larceny law, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following, below:

hand picking up dropped wallet from sidewalk

1. The legal definition of theft in Colorado

You commit theft in violation of section 18-4-401 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) when:

  • Without authorization, or by threat or deception, you knowingly obtain, retain, or exercises control over anything of value of belonging to another person; OR
  • You receive, loan money by pawn or pledge on, or dispose of anything of value or belonging to another person that you know or believe to have been stolen, and:
    • You intend to deprive the other person permanently of the use or benefit of the thing of value;
    • You knowingly use, conceal, or abandon the thing of value in such manner as to deprive the other person permanently of its use or benefit;
    • You use, conceal, or abandon the thing of value intending that such use, concealment, or abandonment will deprive the other person permanently of its use or benefit;
    • You demand anything of value to which you are not legally entitled as a condition of restoring the thing of value to the other person; or
    • You knowingly retain the thing of value for more than seventy-two hours after the agreed-upon time of return in any lease or hire agreement.

For the purposes of 18-4-401 C.R.S., a thing of value belongs to another person if anyone else has a possessory or proprietary interest therein. This means you can be convicted of theft if you co-own property with another person and take it from that other person without authorization.

Note that although you commit theft if you intend to deprive the other person permanently of the use or benefit of the property, this is not a necessity. You commit theft simply by knowingly using someone else's property in a manner that deprives the other person permanently of the use or benefit of the property.1

2. Colorado penalties for theft

Colorado bases punishment for theft on the value of the item(s) taken. If you commit multiple thefts within a six-month period, two or more of the thefts may be aggregated into a single count of theft. In such a case, the value for purposes of sentencing is the aggregate value of all the items taken.2

The value of the items must be determined on some reasonable basis by the jury. Pure speculation as to the value is insufficient.3

2.1. Petty theft

Theft is a Colorado class 1 petty offense if the value of the item(s) is less than fifty dollars.

Consequences of Colorado petty offense theft can include:

  • A fine of up to $500, and/or 
  • 6 months in jail.

2.2. Misdemeanor theft

Penalties for Colorado misdemeanor theft depend on the value of the property.

$50-$299.99: class 3 misdemeanor.

  • Up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • A fine of $50-$750.

$300-$749.99: class 2 misdemeanor

  • 3-12 months in jail, and/or
  • A fine of $250-$1,000.

$750-$1,999.99: class 1 misdemeanor

  • 6 - 18 months in jail, and/or
  • A fine of $500-$5,000.

2.3. Felony theft

Consequences of Colorado felony theft also depend on the value of the property.

$2,000-$4,999.99: class 6 felony

  • 1 – 1 ½ years in prison (with one year mandatory parole), and/or
  • A fine of $1,000-$100,000.

$5,000-$19,999.99: class 5 felony

  • 1-3 years in prison (with 2 years mandatory parole), and/or
  • A fine of $1,000-$100,000.

$20,000-$99,999.99: class 4 felony

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

$100,000-$999,999.00: class 3 felony

  • 4-12 years in prison (with 5-years mandatory parole), and/or
  • A fine of $3,000-$750,000.

$1,000,000 or more: class 2 felony

  • 8-24 years in prison (with 5-years mandatory parole), and/or
  • A fine of $5,000-$1,000,000.

2.4. Theft against an “at-risk” person

Colorado law provides increased penalties for theft against anyone classified as an “at-risk” person (defined below) if:

  • The theft is committed in the victim's presence,
  • The person committing the theft is acting in a position of trust to the at-risk person (whether or not the theft is committed in the victim's presence), or 
  • The person committing the theft knows the victim is an at-risk person (whether or not the theft is committed in the victim's presence).

Theft against an at-risk person is a Colorado class 5 felony if the value of the property is less than $500. Punishment for a class 5 felony can include:

  • 1-3 years in prison (with 2 years mandatory parole), and/or
  • A fine of $1,000-$100,000.

If the value of the thing taken is $500 or more, theft from an at-risk person becomes a Colorado class 3 felony. Consequences of theft / larceny as a class 3 felony can include:

  • 4-12 years in prison (with 5-years mandatory parole), and/or
  • A fine of $3,000-$750,000.

An “at-risk” person is defined as:

  • an at-risk adult,
  • an at-risk adult with IDD,
  • an at-risk elder, or
  • an at-risk juvenile.4

“At-risk adult” means any person who:

  • Is seventy years of age or older, or
  • who is eighteen years of age or older and is a person with a disability.5

“At-risk adult with IDD” means a person who is eighteen years of age or older and is a person with an intellectual and developmental disability.6

“At-risk elder” means any person who is seventy years of age or older.7

“At-risk juvenile” means any person who is under the age of eighteen years and is a person with a disability.8

2.5. Theft by means other than force, threat, or intimidation

Theft by means other than force, threat, or intimidation is:

  • A Colorado class 5 felony without regard to the value of the thing taken, or
  • A Colorado class 4 felony if committed against an “at-risk” person (as defined above).

As a class 5 felony theft can be punished by:

  • 1-3 years in prison (with 2 years mandatory parole), and/or
  • A fine of $1,000-$100,000.

As a class 4 felony, consequences of theft include:

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

Examples of theft by means other than force, threat, or intimidation include (but are not limited to):

  • Theft by fraud, deception or false pretenses,
  • Shoplifting,
  • Con games, or
  • Passing a bad check.

2.6. Attempted theft

An unsuccessful attempt to deprive someone of property will subject you to the punishment for the next less serious class of offense.

For example, theft (larceny) of property worth at least $5,000 but less than $20,000 is a class 5 felony. So attempted theft of property in that range is a class 6 felony.

3. Defenses to Colorado theft charges

The best defense to Colorado theft charges will depend on the facts of your case and the type of property allegedly stolen.

However, common defenses to petty theft, larceny and other theft charges often include:

  • The property was yours,
  • The other person gave you the property,
  • You were just borrowing the property, or
  • You didn't know you had the property.

Defenses that can knock the charges down to a less serious class include (but are not limited to):

  • The property was worth less than the prosecution claims,
  • You didn't know the alleged victim was an “at-risk” person, or
  • You didn't commit the theft in the victim's presence.

4. Related offenses

Colorado has a number of crimes that are often charged along with theft. In many cases, you can be punished for both theft and these related crimes.

Such crimes include (but are not limited to):

  • Theft of Trade Secrets - 18–4–408 C.R.S.
  • Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft - 18–4–409 C.R.S.
  • Identity Theft -- 18–5–902. C.R.S.
  • Theft of Sound Recordings
  • Theft of Cable Television Service
  • Robbery – 18-4-301, C.R.S.
  • Burglary – 18-4-202-18-4-204 C.R.S.

In particular, we often see theft charged with robbery -- when items are taken directly from an alleged victim, and/or burglary -- when someone is charged with breaking into a building or automobile for the purpose of stealing something.

Call us for help…

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Our Colorado criminal defense attorneys see clients as more than just a list of charges. Every client has a name; every client has a story. We're here to see to it that the prosecutor and, if necessary, the jury know your side.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a violation of Colorado's theft laws, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.
We'll respond to you quickly so you can take the first steps to gaining your freedom and re-establishing your good name.

You can reach us by filling out the confidential form on this page, or by phoning 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. Rishel, 2002, 50 P.3d 938.
  2. 18-4-401 (4)(a) C.R.S.; Roberts v. People, 2009, 203 P.3d 513, rehearing denied.
  3. People v. Leonard, App.1979, 608 P.2d 832, 43 Colo.App. 471.
  4. 18-6.5-102 (4.5) C.R.S.
  5. 18-6.5-102 (2) C.R.S.
  6. 18-6.5-102 (2.5) C.R.S.
  7. 18-6.5-102 (3) C.R.S.
  8. 18-6.5-102 (4) C.R.S.

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