Theft and Shoplifting

The criminal offense of theft is pretty straightforward - it is the taking and/or possession of a thing of value with the intent to permanently deprive the owner thereof.

The criminal classification of theft depends upon the value of the item stolen and can range from a Class 2 felony (over one million dollars) to a class 3 misdemeanor ($50 to $300). Any theft involving a thing of value that is less than $50 is classified as a petty offense, which is the lowest classification of criminal offense. In addition to the taking of a thing of value, it is also a criminal offense to simply be in possession of stolen property or receive stolen property for the benefit of another.

In a theft case, the issue typically arises as to whether the defendant intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property. In many instances, a theft case can be successfully defended on the grounds that the defendant had reason to believe that the owner had given the property to him or her or simply borrowed the item without intending to keep it.

However, in a case involving shoplifting, simply leaving the store without paying for an item is presumed to be an act to permanently deprive the store of the item. Colorado law goes even further to prohibit concealing an item from view inside the store, which is deemed to be evidence of the intent to commit theft.

In addition to showing that the defendant did not intend to steal the item, theft can also be successfully defended by establishing that the defendant believed the item was abandoned or simply did not know who was the owner of the property. The issue of the actual value of the property is also important to potentially reduce the severity of the offense and corresponding sentence.

Although theft is a separate criminal offense, there are numerous criminal offenses which incorporate the elements of theft. These offenses fall under various categories and include the basic concept of theft, but are defined as independent criminal offenses. Some of these types of offenses are:

  • Burglary - the breaking and entering into a building with the intent to commit theft (or other criminal offense)
  • Robbery - the theft of an item from the person of another with the use or threatened use of force Identity
  • Theft - using someone else’s identity to obtain a thing of value
  • Fraud - obtaining a thing of value through deceptive means
  • Extortion - obtaining a thing of value through threatened violence of disparagment

In any involving the elements of theft, it is important to have a skilled, experienced trial attorney obtain and review ALL the evidence in the case, including surveillance videos, receipts, and other potential evidence which can show lack of intent or knowledge.

At the Sarbaugh Law Firm, we will put our experience and knowledge of the criminal justice system and law enforcement procedures to work immediately to assure that you have the best chance of a successful defense against a theft charge. Give us a call for a free telephone evaluation of your case and explain how we can help you.