What is Theft?
Theft in Colorado refers to knowingly obtaining or exercising control over anything of value of another with the intent to permanently deprive the person of a thing of value.
The penalties for theft range tremendously based on the value of the goods. Generally, the penalties for shoplifting can vary from a class 2 misdemeanor to a class 3 felony.
What Happens when you Plea Guilty to Theft
One of the problems with pleaing guilty to theft is that you are admitting that you committed a crime of “moral turpitude” (i.e. a crime involving dishonesty). This means that every employer will see you in background investigations as someone who cannot be trusted. It also means that this crime will be brought up and used against you in the future. For example, if you are assaulted a few years after pleaing guilty, the person who attacked you could walk free because the jury will hear about how you are dishonest and cannot be trusted because you have been labeled by the courts and the State of Colorado as someone who cannot be trusted. If you are not a U.S. citizen, pleaing guilty to theft can result in automatic deportation.
Defending Theft Cases
Because of the risks to your livelihood that extend well beyond the immediate punishments, you need to have an attorney who knows how to get evidence suppressed. For example, many stores use videotapes to monitor shoppers and to find shoplifters. If the videotape is demanded early enough in the case and is not handed over, you may be able to keep the videotape out. The end result is that your case would be dismissed. Additionally, you need an attorney who can successfully challenge the value of items so that the seriousness of the charge can be reduced.
Just as important as keeping evidence out, you need an attorney who knows how to navigate diversion programs. Generally, diversion programs are programs where you do what the prosecution wants and then your case will get dismissed. Such diversion programs include community service or paying the store back for the property. You should also be aware that shoplifting can result in a civil case against you. Very frequently, the store will bring a civil case against you that will result in fines against you. Rather than get caught up in a system that can result in thousands of dollars in fines and years in jail, you should hire an attorney who can handle the myriad of issues in theft cases properly and professionally.
This post is also available in: Spanish
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