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Shoplifting in Colorado: Laws Penalties and Defense Strategies Explained

Shoplifting Offenses in Colorado: Understanding the Laws and PenaltiesShoplifting is a crime that has significant consequences. In Colorado, the laws surrounding shoplifting are set forth in Colorado Revised Statute 18-4-406.

This statute defines the offense and specifies the penalties for those convicted. It is essential to understand the intricacies of this law to avoid getting on the wrong side of the law.

In this informative article, we will delve into the details of shoplifting offenses in Colorado, including the elements of the crime, the penalties imposed, and the implications for those charged.

Colorado Revised Statute 18-4-406 – Defining Shoplifting Offenses

Colorado Revised Statute 18-4-406 is the primary statute that governs shoplifting offenses in the state. This statute describes the various elements of the crime and provides a legal framework for prosecuting those who engage in shoplifting activities.

To be charged with shoplifting, several key elements must be established:

1. Intention of permanently depriving: The offender must have the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the merchandise.

This means that they must have no intention of returning the merchandise or paying for it. 2.

Concealment of merchandise: Shoplifting involves the intentional act of concealing merchandise while still inside the store or in immediate proximity to it. This act is crucial for the prosecution to establish that the offender had the intent to commit theft.

Understanding Shoplifting – Intent and Concealment

To comprehend the gravity of shoplifting offenses, it is important to examine the intent behind the act and the act of concealment itself. Intention of permanently depriving: The intention of permanently depriving the owner of the merchandise is a critical factor in determining the severity of the offense.

It implies that the offender has full knowledge and intention to keep the stolen goods for personal use or to sell them. Concealment of merchandise: Concealing merchandise can take various forms, such as hiding items in bags, clothing, or personal belongings.

The act of concealment provides evidence of the offender’s intent to commit theft, as they take active measures to hide the items from plain view.

The Penalties for Shoplifting Offenses in Colorado

Shoplifting offenses are taken seriously in Colorado, and the penalties imposed reflect this seriousness. Depending on the value of the stolen goods, as determined by Colorado law, the offense can range from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Let’s explore two specific circumstances and the corresponding penalties:

Felony Shoplifting and Minimum Prison Sentence

When the value of the stolen goods exceeds a certain threshold, shoplifting is considered a felony offense in Colorado. If the stolen merchandise is worth $2,000 or more, the offender may face felony charges, resulting in severe penalties.

A felony shoplifting conviction can lead to:

– Imprisonment: Those convicted of felony shoplifting face a minimum prison sentence of one year, which may be increased depending on the circumstances of the offense and the offender’s criminal history. – Fines: In addition to imprisonment, individuals found guilty of felony shoplifting may be required to pay substantial fines, the amount of which is determined by the court.

Grand Theft and Minimum Prison Sentence

Colorado law treats shoplifting offenses as grand theft when the value of the stolen goods exceeds $2,000. Grand theft is a serious offense that comes with severe penalties, including:

– Imprisonment: The minimum prison sentence for grand theft in Colorado is typically one year.

However, the court may impose a longer sentence based on aggravating factors or the offender’s criminal history. – Fines: Like felony shoplifting, grand theft offenses may also result in significant fines being imposed by the court.


Understanding the laws and penalties surrounding shoplifting offenses in Colorado is crucial for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law. Shoplifting, even in its seemingly minor forms, can have far-reaching consequences, including imprisonment and substantial fines.

By becoming aware of the elements required to constitute shoplifting, the legal framework in place, and the associated penalties, individuals can make informed decisions and avoid engaging in this offense. Remember, knowledge is power, and it is the key to avoiding unnecessary legal trouble.

Stay informed, make the right choices, and abide by the law to protect yourself and your future.

Petty Theft and Maximum Jail Sentence

In Colorado, petty theft refers to shoplifting offenses where the value of the stolen items is less than $300. While it may be considered a lesser offense compared to felony shoplifting or grand theft, petty theft still carries significant consequences.

Individuals charged with petty theft may face a range of penalties, including the possibility of jail time. Maximum jail sentence: For petty theft offenses, the maximum jail sentence is set at six months.

However, it is important to note that the severity of the punishment depends on various factors, such as the defendant’s criminal history and the circumstances surrounding the offense. The court has discretion in determining the appropriate punishment, taking into account the specific details of each case.

Criminal Penalties for Shoplifting

Shoplifting offenses in Colorado, regardless of the value of the stolen items, can result in various criminal penalties. These penalties are determined by multiple factors, including the value of the property involved and the defendant’s criminal history.

Restitution: One common penalty for shoplifting offenses is restitution, which requires the offender to repay the value of the stolen goods to the store or the victim. This aims to provide compensation for the losses suffered by the victims and serves as a form of accountability.

Property value: The value of the stolen property directly influences the severity of the penalty. Colorado law categorizes theft offenses into different levels based on property value, with higher values resulting in more severe penalties.

Understanding the value thresholds set by the law is crucial for individuals charged with shoplifting. Fines: In addition to restitution, fines are often imposed as part of the punishment for shoplifting offenses.

The specific amount of the fine depends on the circumstances of the offense and can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Jail/Prison terms: As previously mentioned, individuals convicted of shoplifting offenses may endure imprisonment.

Depending on the severity of the offense and the defendant’s criminal history, jail or prison terms can be imposed, ranging from a few days to several years for more serious cases.

Legal Defenses for Colorado Shoplifting Charges

Facing shoplifting charges can be an overwhelming experience. However, it is crucial to remember that there are legal defenses available to those accused of this offense.

It is advisable to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to explore the following potential defenses:

Lack of intent: One of the most common defenses in shoplifting cases is establishing a lack of intent. If it can be proven that the defendant did not intentionally or knowingly engage in shoplifting, it may provide a strong defense against the charges.

Challenging the Accusation

There are scenarios where individuals may find themselves wrongly accused or facing mistaken identity in shoplifting cases. In such situations, it is essential to challenge the accusations and present a valid defense:

False accusation: It is not uncommon for innocent individuals to be falsely accused of shoplifting.

Whether due to a misunderstanding, malice, or other factors, false accusations can occur. In these cases, it is crucial to present evidence and witness testimonies to prove one’s innocence.

Mistaken identity: Mistaken identity is another potential defense for shoplifting charges. If it can be demonstrated that the defendant was not the person responsible for the alleged theft, it can cast doubt on the validity of the accusation.

Illegal search: In some instances, the evidence gathered against a defendant may have been obtained through an illegal search or seizure. If it can be proven that the search violated the defendant’s constitutional rights, the evidence may be deemed inadmissible in court, weakening the prosecution’s case.

Insufficient proof: The burden of proof lies with the prosecution in a shoplifting case. If the evidence presented is weak or insufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, a skilled defense attorney may be able to challenge the validity of the case.


Understanding the details of shoplifting offenses in Colorado is essential for individuals to navigate the legal system effectively. Whether facing charges of petty theft or more serious shoplifting offenses, knowing the penalties associated with each offense and potential legal defenses can help in building a strong defense strategy.

By seeking legal representation and exploring the available defenses, individuals accused of shoplifting can ensure their rights are protected and increase their chances of a favorable outcome in their case.

Shoplifting Convictions and Record Sealing

A shoplifting conviction can have long-lasting consequences on an individual’s personal and professional life. However, in some cases, it may be possible to seal a shoplifting conviction from public view, effectively hiding it from background checks.

It is important to understand the criteria for record sealing and when a shoplifting conviction may be considered unsealable. Sealing a shoplifting conviction: In Colorado, certain shoplifting convictions may be eligible for record sealing.

This means that the conviction will no longer appear in standard background checks, allowing individuals to move forward without the stigma of the offense. However, it is crucial to meet specific criteria and follow the necessary legal procedures to successfully seal a shoplifting conviction.

Unsealable convictions: While record sealing is an option for some shoplifting convictions, certain offenses may be considered unsealable. Factors such as the severity of the offense, the presence of previous convictions, and the nature of the sentence imposed can impact the sealing eligibility.

It is advisable to consult with an attorney to determine whether a shoplifting conviction is sealable or falls under the unsealable category.

Statute of Limitations for Shoplifting Charges

The statute of limitations refers to the time limit within which criminal charges must be filed. Understanding the statute of limitations is important for both individuals accused of shoplifting and law enforcement agencies handling theft cases.

Time limit for criminal charges: In Colorado, the statute of limitations for shoplifting charges depends on the value of the stolen goods. Generally, for theft cases involving goods worth less than $2,000, the statute of limitations is 18 months.

However, for more serious theft cases where the value exceeds $2,000, the statute of limitations is extended to three years. It is important to note that the statute of limitations may vary in some specific circumstances, so consulting with a legal professional is recommended.

Implications for individuals accused of shoplifting: If the statute of limitations for shoplifting charges has expired, it may serve as a defense strategy for individuals facing accusations. However, it is essential to navigate this defense strategy carefully, as there may be exceptions or specific circumstances that can extend the statute of limitations.

Seeking the advice of a criminal defense lawyer is crucial to fully understand the implications of the statute of limitations in a shoplifting case.

Accusations of Shoplifting and the Role of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Being accused of shoplifting can be a distressing and overwhelming experience. In such situations, seeking the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer is essential to protect one’s rights and navigate the legal process effectively.

Theft offenses and criminal defense lawyers: Criminal defense lawyers specialize in defending individuals accused of crimes, including shoplifting offenses. These legal professionals have the knowledge, skills, and resources to analyze the evidence, challenge the prosecution’s case, and advocate for their clients’ rights.

Building a strong defense: Criminal defense lawyers play a critical role in building a strong defense strategy for individuals accused of shoplifting. They examine the evidence, seek any procedural errors, challenge witness statements, and identify potential constitutional violations.

By leveraging their expertise, defense lawyers can significantly increase the chances of a favorable outcome for their clients.

Attorney-Client Relationships in Colorado

Establishing a solid attorney-client relationship is imperative for effective communication and successful collaboration between individuals accused of shoplifting and their chosen defense attorneys. In Colorado, individuals have the right to choose their legal representation and develop a trust-based relationship.

Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs: In the state of Colorado, cities such as Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs are home to numerous reputable criminal defense attorneys. Individuals accused of shoplifting can find legal professionals in these cities who specialize in theft offenses and have a deep understanding of local laws and court procedures.

Building trust and communication: For the defense process to be effective, a strong attorney-client relationship is crucial. Open and honest communication is vital, allowing the defense attorney to fully understand the details of the case and provide the best possible representation.

Trusting the attorney’s expertise and following their advice is essential for a successful defense strategy.


When dealing with shoplifting offenses in Colorado, individuals should be aware of their options and how to navigate the legal system effectively. Understanding the possibility of record sealing, the statute of limitations for shoplifting charges, and the importance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome of a case.

By seeking legal advice, developing a strong attorney-client relationship, and following the appropriate legal procedures, individuals accused of shoplifting can protect their rights and work towards a favorable resolution.

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