Felony Grand Theft Laws in Colorado - CRS 18-4-401(2)


Felony theft / larceny
 (sometimes called grand theft) in Colorado law under 18-4-401(2) CRS is defined when someone intentionally steals another's property worth at least $2,000. Typical examples of felony larceny offenses include violations of:

The punishment includes victim restitution payments in Colorado as well as fines and possibly incarceration that depend on the value of the stolen items:

Price of stolen property

Type of Colorado felony and penalties

$2,000 to less than $5,000

Class 6 felony in Colorado

  • 1 - 1 ½ years in Colorado State Prison (with 1 year mandatory parole) and/or
  • $1,000 - $100,000 in fines

$5,000 to less than $20,000

Class 5 felony in Colorado

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

$20,000 to less than $100,000

Class 4 felony in Colorado

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

$100,000 to less than $1,000,000

Class 3 felony in Colorado

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

$1,000,000 or more

Class 2 felony in Colorado

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

However, it always a felony to pick-pocket or to steal from an elderly or disabled person, even if the value of the stolen goods is less than $2,000.

Depending on the case, judges may approve of a Colorado plea deal where the defendant does probation in Colorado instead of incarceration. Common defenses to theft charges are:

  1. the defendant was the sole owner of the property,
  2. the defendant had no intent to take the property, or
  3. the police committed an unlawful search or seizure in Colorado

In this article, our Denver Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following felony grand theft topics:

Also see our articles on petty theft in Colorado and misdemeanor theft in Colorado.

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Theft of anything worth at least $2,000 is a Colorado felony.

1. What is the definition of felony theft in Colorado?

Colorado law defines felony theft (also known as larceny) as stealing property that costs at least $2,000 or more.

Theft under section 18-4-401 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) is a broad crime. It encompasses several circumstances, including:

  • shoplifting
  • taking property by false pretenses
  • taking out a loan and deliberately failing to make good on it within 72 hours of the agreed-upon time to settle up
  • taking property the alleged thief co-owns without first getting the approval of the co-owner(s)1

2. What are the penalties for felony theft in Colorado?

Theft of money or goods valued at $2,000 or higher is a felony in Colorado. The sentence range for felony theft is:

  • One (1) to twenty-four (24) years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000 to $1,000,000, and
  • restitution payment to the victim

In less serious cases, it could be possible to do probation as an alternative to prison.2

2.1. Sentencing ranges

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Some felony crimes are probation-eligible.

The specific penalty range for felony larceny in Colorado turns on the value of the property allegedly stolen.

If defendants allegedly committed multiple thefts within a six (6)-month period, prosecutors may add together the values of all the stolen items and charge the defendant with just one theft count.3 Note that courts are supposed to determine value on a reasonable basis and not pure speculation.4

2.1.1. $2,000-$4,999.99: class 6 felony

Theft of property worth at least $2,000 but less than $5,000 is a class 6 felony in Colorado. The sentence is:

  • one to one-and-a-half (1 - 1 ½ ) years in prison with one (1) year mandatory parole and/or a fine of $1,000 to $100,000, and
  • restitution payment to the victim

2.1.2. $5,000-$19,999.99: class 5 felony

Theft of property worth at least $5,000 but less than $20,000 is a class 5 felony in Colorado. The sentence is:

  • one to three (1 - 3) years in prison with two (2) years mandatory parole and/or a fine of $1,000 to $100,000, and
  • restitution payment to the victim

2.1.3. $20,000-$99,999.99: class 4 felony

Theft of property worth at least $20,000 but less than $100,000 is a class 4 felony in Colorado. The sentence is:

  • two to six (2 - 6) years in prison with three (3) years mandatory parole and/or a fine of $2,000 to $500,000, and
  • restitution payment to the victim

2.1.4. $100,000-$999,999.00: class 3 felony

Theft of property worth at least $100,000 but less than $1,000,000 is a class 3 felony in Colorado. The sentence is:

  • four to twelve (4 - 12) years in prison with five (5) years mandatory parole and/or a fine of $3,000 to $750,000, and
  • restitution payment to the victim

2.1.5. $1,000,000 or more: class 2 felony

Theft of property worth at least $1 million is a class 2 felony in Colorado. The sentence is:

  • eight to twenty-four (8 - 24) years in prison with five (5) years mandatory parole and/or a fine of $5,00 to $1,000,000, and
  • restitution payment to the victim5

2.2. Theft against an “at-risk” person

As discussed in more detail below, "at-risk" people in Colorado generally comprise the disabled or people aged seventy (70) or older. Colorado law provides increased penalties for theft against anyone classified as an “at-risk” person if:

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All thefts against at-risk people are felonies.
  • 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 class 5 felony if the value of the property is less than $500. Punishment for a class 5 felony can include restitution payments as well as:

  • one to three (1 - 3) years in prison with two (2) years mandatory parole and/or
  • a fine of $1,000 to $100,000

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

  • four to twelve (4 - 12) years in prison with five (5) years mandatory parole and/or
  • a fine of $3,000-$750,0006

2.2.1. Legal definition of "at-risk"

An “at-risk” person is defined in Colorado law as:

  • an at-risk adult,
  • an at-risk adult with IDD,
  • an at-risk elder, or
  • an at-risk juvenile.7

“At-risk adult” means any person who:

  • Is seventy (70) years of age or older, or
  • who is eighteen (18) years of age or older and is a person with a disability.8

“At-risk adult with IDD” means a person who is eighteen (18) years of age or older and is a person with an intellectual and developmental disability.9

“At-risk elder” means any person who is seventy (70) years of age or older.10

“At-risk juvenile” means any person who is under the age of eighteen (18) years and is a person with a disability.11

2.3. Theft by means other than force, threat, or intimidation (a.k.a. pick-pocketing)

Pick-pocketing is the informal name for "theft by means other than force, threat, or intimidation." Pick-pocketing is always a felony, even if the stolen item(s) is not worth much money. Common examples include:

  • taking a wallet out of a person's pocket without the person knowing, and
  • grabbing a purse out of a shopping card

Note that punishments are harsher if the victim is an "at-risk" person, which generally includes the disabled and people 70 and over (scroll above to section 2.2 for more information).

hand stealing wallet from pocket
Pick-pocketing is a felony in Colorado.

Pick-pocketing an "at-risk" person is a class 4 felony, carrying restitution as well as:

  • two to six (2 - 6) years in prison with three (3) years mandatory parole) and/or
  • a fine of $2,000 to $500,000

Otherwise, pick-pocketing is a class 5 felony, carrying restitution as well as:

  • one to three (1 - 3) years in prison with two (2) years mandatory parole and/or
  • a fine of $1,000 to $100,00012

2.4. Penalties for attempts

Failed attempts to steal property are charged slightly less harshly than thefts that succeeded:13

Attempted felony larceny crime

Type of crime and penalties

class 6 felony:

  • theft of $2,000 to less than $5,000 in property

class 1 misdemeanor:

  • 6 – 18 months in jail and/or
  • $500 - $5,000 in fines, and
  • victim restitution

class 5 felony:

  • theft of $5,000 to less than $20,000 in property; or
  • theft by means other than force, threats, or intimidation; or
  • theft of less than $500 from an "at-risk" person

class 6 felony:

  • 1 - 1 ½ years in prison (with 1 year mandatory parole) and/or
  • $1,000 - $100,000 in fines, and
  • victim restitution

class 4 felony:

  • theft of $20,000 to less than $100,000 in property; or
  • theft of an "at-risk" person by means other than force, threats, or intimidation

class 5 felony:

  • 1 - 3 years in prison (with 2 years mandatory parole) and/or
  • $1,000 - $100,000 in fines, and
  • victim restitution

class 3 felony:

  • theft of $100,000 to less than $1,000,000 in property; or
  • theft of $500 or more from an "at-risk" person

class 4 felony:

  • 2 - 6 years in prison (with 3 years mandatory parole) and/or
  • $2,000 - $500,000 in fines, and
  • victim restitution

class 2 felony:

  • theft of $1 million or more

class 3 felony:

  • 4 - 12 years in prison (with 5 years mandatory parole) and/or
  • $3,000 - $750,000 in fines, and
  • victim restitution

Read further about Colorado criminal attempts.

2.5. Penalties for petty theft and misdemeanor theft

Wrongfully taking less than $50 worth of money or items is a Colorado class 1 petty offense, carrying:

  • six (6) months in jail and/or a fine of up to $500, and
  • restitution payment to the victim

The judge can grant probation instead of jail for Colorado petty offenses.

Wrongfully taking money or items worth $50 to less than $2,000 is a Colorado misdemeanor. Depending on the value of the stolen item(s), Colorado misdemeanor theft can be penalized by:

  • probation to eighteen (18) months in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000, and
  • restitution payment to the victim

In some cases, the judge may grant probation instead of jail.14

3. What defenses can I assert?

Every individual case's unique facts determine which defense strategies could be most effective. A sampling of possible defenses includes:

cartoon of thief
There are several possible defenses to Colorado larceny charges.
  1. The defendant was the sole owner of the property,
  2. The defendant did not knowingly take the property, or
  3. The police's search and seizure was unconstitutional

Note that the D.A. may also reduce larceny charges to a lesser crime if the defense attorney can show either:

  • that the allegedly stolen property is not as valuable as what the prosecution initially claimed in the complaint;
  • the victim was not "at-risk"; or
  • the defendant did not use force, threats, or intimidation

3.1. Defendant was the sole owner of the property

Sole owners of property cannot possibly steal that property. It may be possible to prove sole ownership of the property through such evidence as:

  • sales receipts
  • title documents
  • contracts

Criminal charges cannot stand if the defense lawyer can demonstrate that the defendant was the sole owner of the allegedly stolen property. Sole owners do not need other people's permission to take the property unless other people have an interest in it, such as leasees.

3.2. Defendant had no intent to take the property

Colorado law makes theft an "intent offense."15 Consequently, defendants should avoid conviction if the prosecutors fail to show that the defendants deliberately took the property:

Example: After working all night, Henry is bleary-eyed and mistakenly takes his roommate's wallet instead of his own. Certainly Henry is legally obligated to return the wallet, but he committed no crime because he genuinely believed he was grabbing his own wallet.

Since intent is invisible and intangible, the D.A. frequently has trouble proving what a defendant is truly thinking. Therefore, the defense attorney's job is to raise a reasonable doubt that the defendant deliberately took property he/she knew belonged to someone else. That reasonable doubt is sufficient to sustain a "not guilty" verdict.

3.3. Police's search and seizure was unconstitutional

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Police mistakes may be enough to get a criminal case dropped.

When police conduct an unlawful search or seizure, any evidence they find is "tainted." In this situation, the defense lawyer can file a motion to suppress evidence in Colorado with the court:

A motion to suppress asks the judge to throw out all the tainted evidence from the court's consideration. If the judge grants the motion, then the state may be left with insufficient evidence to continue prosecution.

Note unlawful police searches commonly occur when:

  • the police failed to get a Colorado search warrant,
  • the search warrant was invalid (such as by being too broad), or
  • the police did not have a legal reason to search without getting a warrant first (such as there being an emergency situation that made getting a warrant first unrealistic)

4. What are the related offenses?

Larceny suspects often are charged with larceny and a related crime(s) for the same case. Some of these offenses are:

Call us for help…

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Call our Colorado criminal defense attorneys at 303-222-0330 for a free consultation today.

Charged in Colorado for felony larceny? Call our Denver criminal defense attorneys for a FREE consultation. We will tirelessly investigate, negotiate, and litigate your matter. We will try to get your charges reduced to lesser offenses or dismissed outright. And if necessary, we are ready to fight for a not guilty verdict at trial.

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
4047 Tejon Street
Denver, CO 80211
(303) 222-0330

Arrested in California? See our article on California grand theft laws.

Arrested in Nevada? See our article on Nevada grand larceny laws.


Legal references:

  1. Colorado Revised Statutes Title 18 Criminal Code § 18-4-401 Theft
  2. 18-4-401 C.R.S. (2)(c),(d), & (e).
  3. 18-4-401 (4)(a) C.R.S.; Roberts v. People, 203 P.3d 513 (2009) rehearing denied.
  4. People v. Leonard, 608 P.2d 832, 43 Colo.App. 471 (1979).
  5. 18-4-401 C.R.S. (2)(c),(d), & (e).
  6. 18-6.5-103 (5) & (7.5). C.R.S.
  7. 18-6.5-102 (4.5) C.R.S.
  8. 18-6.5-102 (2) C.R.S.
  9. 18-6.5-102 (2.5) C.R.S.
  10. 18-6.5-102 (3) C.R.S.
  11. 18-6.5-102 (4) C.R.S.
  12. 18-4-401 C.R.S.(5).
  13. 18-2-101 C.R.S.
  14. 18-4-401 C.R.S.(2)(b),(f),(g),(h),(i) & (j).
  15. 18-4-401 C.R.S.

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