In Colorado, when a public servant uses their position to take money or property, they may be guilty of embezzlement of public property. This offense is a class 5 felony. The penalties for embezzling public property include up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What is embezzlement of public property?
- 2. Who can be charged with embezzlement of public property?
- 3. What are the penalties for embezzlement of public property?
- 4. Related Offenses
1. What is embezzlement of public property?
Embezzlement is a crime that involves the theft or misuse of money or property, generally from an employer or company. When a public servant takes money or property from their job, they are taking property from the public.
“Every public servant who lawfully or unlawfully comes into possession of any public moneys or public property of whatever description, being the property of the state or of any political subdivision of the state, and who knowingly converts any of such public moneys or property to his own use or to any use other than the public use authorized by law is guilty of embezzlement of public property.”1
Examples of embezzling public property may include:
- A mayor using city landscaping contract to do landscaping work on his home;
- A city accountant creating a fake company and using it to bill the city for fraudulent services; or
- A sheriff’s deputy ordering televisions for the station and taking one home for personal use.
2. Who can be charged with embezzlement of public property?
Embezzlement is a criminal offense for anyone. However, embezzlement of public property applies to public servants. A public servant includes any officer or employee of the state, county, city, or federal government, including advisors, consultants, process servers, or anyone performing a governmental function.2
3. What are the penalties for embezzling public property?
Embezzling public property in Colorado is a class 5 felony.3 The penalties for embezzling public property include 1 to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Under C.R.S. 18-8-407, “every person convicted under the provisions of this section shall be forever thereafter ineligible and disqualified from being a member of the general assembly of this state or from holding any office of trust or profit in this state.” A felony conviction for embezzlement can also disqualify you from jury duty and make it more difficult to find a job after serving your sentence.
4. Related Offenses
4.1. Misuse of Official Information C.R.S. 18-8-402
When a public servant uses nonpublic information for their own benefit, they may be committing the crime of misuse of official information. Misuse of official information is a class 6 felony in Colorado. The penalties for misuse of official information include 12 to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
4.2. Official Misconduct C.R.S. 18-8-404
Official misconduct in Colorado involves public servants who use their position to obtain a benefit or cause harm to another person. Official misconduct in the first degree is a class 2 misdemeanor, with penalties including 3 to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
4.3. Abuse of Records C.R.S. 18-8-114
Abuse of records in Colorado (defined in CRS 18-8-114) involves changing or destroying public records or entering false information into a public record. Abuse of public records is a class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties abuse of public records in Colorado include 6 to 18 months in jail and a fine from $500 to $5,000.
It is a criminal offense for a public servant to request pecuniary benefit for performing an official action knowing they are required to perform that action without compensation. Soliciting unlawful compensation is a class 2 misdemeanor. Penalties include 3 to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Call us for help…
If you are being investigated for embezzlement of public property, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group.
- C.R.S. 18-8-407(1)
- C.R.S. 18-8-405(1)
- C.R.S. 18-8-407(2)