Theft by Receiving in Colorado
Theft by receiving in Colorado is subject to the same punishment as if you had stolen the property yourself, and it therefore needs to be treated just as seriously. The fact is, if you’ve been charged with theft by receiving, there’s a good chance the district attorney thinks you did steal the item yourself, but just does not have the witnesses to prove it. In Colorado, the penalties depend on the value of the items:
- Petty Offense (up to 6 months jail) less than $50
- Class 3 misdemeanor (up to 6 months) $50 to $299
- Class 2 misdemeanor (up to 1 year) $300 to $749
- Class 1 misdemeanor (up to 18 months) $750 to $1999
- Class 6 felony* $2000 to $4999
- Class 5 felony* $5000 to $19,999
- Class 4 felony* $20,000 to $99,999
- Class 3 felony* $100,000 to $999,999
- Class 2 felony* $1,000,000 or more
*Felony sentencing ranges are quite complex and case specific. If you have been charged with a felony, talk to a criminal lawyer about the minimum and maximum prison sentences in you case.
On top of the jail or prison there is the potential for large fines, restitution, probation and parole. Further, most criminal convictions will stay on your record forever, affecting things like your right to own a weapon and your employment opportunities. A good criminal lawyer in your corner is essential to fight the charges, and to work on plea and trial options that protect your future.
Matthew Hand is a Denver criminal lawyer defending theft charges throughout Colorado. He has handled dozens of theft cases, including at trial. Call for a free consultation: (303) 900-8480.
How to Defend Theft by Receiving Charges
To prove the crime of theft by receiving in Colorado, the district attorney must show that you received, retained, or disposed of something of value that did not belong to you, that you knew or believed it was stolen, and that you intended to permanently deprive the lawful owner of the use of that item. See Colorado Revised Statutes 18-4-410. Your defense will depend on the facts of your case, but there are certain defenses that are common.
First, your lawyer may be able to help you dispute that you knew the goods were stolen. This can be difficult for the DA to prove, but they can use your statements, other people’s statements, and the context of the situation to establish it. For example, if you bought a $20,000 car for $500 from a guy outside Coors Field, and it didn’t have any title or license plates, you might be in trouble. But if you bought some speakers on craigslist and got a good deal, then there’s no reason you should know if the speakers had been stolen. Each case is unique, but your lawyer will conduct a critical investigation of the state’s evidence to prepare for trial and plea negotiations.
Second, like with basic theft charges, the district attorney must show that you intended to permanently deprive the lawful owner of the property. Note that this does not mean that you intended to keep the property forever, but simply that the lawful owner was never going to get it back. The law is written pretty broadly, but there are situations where your intent may be very relevant to a defense. For one example, if you made a good faith effort to find the lawful owner of some property, your criminal lawyer should investigate and document those efforts as part of your defense.
Further, your defense lawyer will often be able to challenge the dollar amount of the alleged theft by receiving to lower the seriousness of the charge. Your attorney will also be able to defend your rights by suppressing evidence that the police obtained illegally. Your attorney will be able to attack the credibility of the state’s witnesses, protect your constitutional and procedural rights, and ensure that you are treated fairly throughout the process.
Whether you were caught red-handed or are falsely accused, a criminal lawyer can help resolve your case more favorably to you. But every case is different, so you should consult with a criminal lawyer to see what your options are.
Matthew Hand is a former prosecutor and experienced Denver criminal lawyer committed to defending you.