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

Felony theft/ larceny in Colorado law under 18-4-401 C.R.S.(2)(f) through (j) 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 for felony theft 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 theft topics:

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

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

1. The legal definition of felony theft in Colorado

Colorado law defines felony theft (a.k.a. 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 pretenes
  • 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. 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. Defenses to Colorado felony theft charges

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 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. Related offenses

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

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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
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Denver CO 80202
(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

    (1) A person commits theft when he or she knowingly obtains, retains, or exercises control over anything of value of another without authorization or by threat or deception;  or receives, loans money by pawn or pledge on, or disposes of anything of value or belonging to another that he or she knows or believes to have been stolen, and:

    (a) Intends to deprive the other person permanently of the use or benefit of the thing of value;

    (b) Knowingly uses, conceals, or abandons the thing of value in such manner as to deprive the other person permanently of its use or benefit;

    (c) Uses, conceals, or abandons the thing of value intending that such use, concealment, or abandonment will deprive the other person permanently of its use or benefit;

    (d) Demands any consideration to which he or she is not legally entitled as a condition of restoring the thing of value to the other person;  or

    (e) Knowingly retains the thing of value more than seventy-two hours after the agreed-upon time of return in any lease or hire agreement.

    (1.5) For the purposes of this section, a thing of value is that of “another” if anyone other than the defendant has a possessory or proprietary interest therein.

    (2) Theft is:

    (a) Deleted by Laws 2007, Ch. 384, § 3, eff. July 1, 2007.

    (b) A class 1 petty offense if the value of the thing involved is less than fifty dollars;

    (b.5) Repealed by Laws 2013, Ch. 373, § 1, eff. June 5, 2013.

    (c) A class 3 misdemeanor if the value of the thing involved is fifty dollars or more but less than three hundred dollars;

    (d) A class 2 misdemeanor if the value of the thing involved is three hundred dollars or more but less than seven hundred fifty dollars;

    (e) A class 1 misdemeanor if the value of the thing involved is seven hundred fifty dollars or more but less than two thousand dollars;

    (f) A class 6 felony if the value of the thing involved is two thousand dollars or more but less than five thousand dollars;

    (g) A class 5 felony if the value of the thing involved is five thousand dollars or more but less than twenty thousand dollars;

    (h) A class 4 felony if the value of the thing involved is twenty thousand dollars or more but less than one hundred thousand dollars;

    (i) A class 3 felony if the value of the thing involved is one hundred thousand dollars or more but less than one million dollars;  and

    (j) A class 2 felony if the value of the thing involved is one million dollars or more.

    (3), (3.1) Repealed by Laws 1977, H.B.1574, § 9.

    (4)(a) When a person commits theft twice or more within a period of six months, two or more of the thefts may be aggregated and charged in a single count, in which event the thefts so aggregated and charged shall constitute a single offense, the penalty for which shall be based on the aggregate value of the things involved, pursuant to subsection (2) of this section.

    (b) When a person commits theft twice or more against the same person pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct, the thefts may be aggregated and charged in a single count, in which event they shall constitute a single offense, the penalty for which shall be based on the aggregate value of the things involved, pursuant to subsection (2) of this section.

    (5) Theft from the person of another by means other than the use of force, threat, or intimidation is a class 5 felony without regard to the value of the thing taken.

    (6) In every indictment or information charging a violation of this section, it shall be sufficient to allege that, on or about a day certain, the defendant committed the crime of theft by unlawfully taking a thing or things of value of a person or persons named in the indictment or information.  The prosecuting attorney shall at the request of the defendant provide a bill of particulars.

    (7) Repealed by Laws 1993, H.B.93-1088, § 42, eff. July 1, 1993.

    (8) A municipality shall have concurrent power to prohibit theft, by ordinance, where the value of the thing involved is less than one thousand dollars.

    (9)(a) If a person is convicted of or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to theft by deception and the underlying factual basis of the case involves the mortgage lending process, a minimum fine of the amount of pecuniary harm resulting from the theft shall be mandatory, in addition to any other penalty the court may impose.

    (b) A court shall not accept a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to another offense from a person charged with a violation of this section that involves the mortgage lending process unless the plea agreement contains an order of restitution in accordance with part 6 of article 1.3 of this title that compensates the victim for any costs to the victim caused by the offense.

    (c) The district attorneys and the attorney general have concurrent jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute a violation of this section that involves making false statements or filing or facilitating the use of a document known to contain a false statement or material omission relied upon by another person in the mortgage lending process.

    (d) Documents involved in the mortgage lending process include, but are not limited to, uniform residential loan applications or other loan applications;  appraisal reports;  HUD-1 settlement statements;  supporting personal documentation for loan applications such as W-2 forms, verifications of income and employment, bank statements, tax returns, and payroll stubs;  and any required disclosures.

    (e) For the purposes of this subsection (9):

    (I) “Mortgage lending process” means the process through which a person seeks or obtains a residential mortgage loan, including, without limitation, solicitation, application, or origination;  negotiation of terms;  third-party provider services;  underwriting;  signing and closing;  funding of the loan;  and perfecting and releasing the mortgage.

    (II) “Residential mortgage loan” means a loan or agreement to extend credit, made to a person and secured by a mortgage or lien on residential real property, including, but not limited to, the refinancing or renewal of a loan secured by residential real property.

    (III) “Residential real property” means real property used as a residence and containing no more than four families housed separately.

    People v. Rishel, 50 P.3d 938 (2002) ("The Hearing Board found that respondent's knowingly exercising control over the funds when authorization had been withdrawn, his demand that funds be paid by cashier's check rather than historically acceptable personal checks, his failure to respond to communication efforts from the third parties, and his delivery of one set of tickets to another party rather than the rightful owner provided sufficient evidence to find that respondent knew that his use of the funds was practically certain to result in permanently depriving the third parties of their property, thus constituting theft in violation of § 18-4-401(1)(b), 6 C.R.S. (2000) and a violation of Colo. RPC 8.4(b).")
  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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