Theft (shoplifting) by concealment of unpurchased goods
Section 18-4-406 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) provides:
If any person willfully conceals unpurchased goods, wares, or merchandise owned or held by and offered or displayed for sale by any store or other mercantile establishment, whether the concealment be on his own person or otherwise and whether on or off the premises of said store or mercantile establishment, such concealment constitutes prima facie evidence that the person intended to commit the crime of theft.
There is no specific punishment for concealing goods you have not yet purchased.
Rather, concealing unpurchased goods while you are in a store is evidence of your intent to steal such goods.1 It can be used as a basis to charge you with the Colorado crime of shoplifting / theft under 18-4-401 C.R.S.
Colorado Shoplifting Penalties
Punishment for shoplifting in Colorado depends largely on the value of the goods stolen.
Stealing an item worth less than $50 is a Colorado petty offense (petty theft). Consequences for petty theft can include:
- A fine of up to $500, and/or
- Up to 6 months in jail.
If the item is worth more than $50 but less than $2,000, theft is a Colorado misdemeanor. The penalties for misdemeanor theft in Colorado can include:
- Up to 18 months in jail, and/or
- A fine of up to $5,000.
Stealing an item or items worth more than $5,000 is a Colorado felony. Depending on the value of the item(s), penalties for felony theft in Colorado can include:
- 1-24 years in prison, and/or
- A fine of $1,000-$1,000,000.
Defenses to concealment of unpurchased goods
To convict you of theft for concealing unpurchased goods, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended not to pay for them. Ways you can show your good intent include:
- An explanation of why you concealed the goods;
- Someone else put the goods there without your knowledge or consent;
- Statements you made to people who were there showing you intended to pay;
- Receipts for other goods purchased from the store;
- Violation of your rights by store security personnel; or
- Lack of a criminal record (which your Denver criminal lawyer may be able to use to convince the prosecutor to drop the charges).
These are in addition to penalties that apply to all types of theft including (without limitation), the goods were discovered during an illegal search and seizure, failure to read you your Miranda warnings, legal incapacity, etc.
Charged with shoplifting in Denver? Call us for help…
Our caring Denver, Colorado criminal defense lawyers understand that there are many reasons why you might have stuck an item in your pocket or purse.
Perhaps you were just being absent-minded. Maybe you forgot to get a shopping cart or your hands were full. Maybe your friend put it there and you forgot about it.
You might think that because you were innocent or the prosecution can't really prove anything, you don't need a lawyer. But why risk a criminal record?
Our experienced Colorado criminal lawyers know how to negotiate with the prosecutors at the Denver District Attorney's office. We can get them to agree to probation or even to drop shoplifting charges altogether.
To find out how we can fight to protect your good name and keep you out of jail, call us for a free consultation. One of our experienced Colorado theft lawyers will get back to you promptly to discuss the best defense to your Colorado shoplifting charges.
And to learn more about penalties and defenses for shoplifting under Colorado's theft statute, please see our article on Colorado theft, 18-4-401 C.R.S.
Colorado Legal Defense Group
4047 Tejon Street
Denver, CO 80211