petty theft charge colorado

Stealing even a small item in Colorado rates as a crime. Petty theft charges in Colorado can occur when anyone intentionally steals property valued at less than $50.

A petty theft charge in Colorado falls under the category of a petty offense. In Colorado, a petty offense indicates a crime that ranks lower than a misdemeanor or felony. 

Under Colorado law, a person commits theft when they obtain anything of value without authorization or by threat or deception (18-4-401 (2)(b) C.R.S):

  • With intent to deprive the owner permanently of the item
  • With use, concealment, or abandonment that deprives the owner permanently of the item
  • With demand for consideration (an act or payment) to return the item to the owner
  • If the borrower keeps the items for more than 72 hours after its authorized use

A person also commits theft if they pawn or dispose of an item, knowing the item is stolen.

In Colorado, theft falls into one of five classes, ranging from petty theft to felony theft. A surprising number of infractions fall into the category of a petty theft charge in Colorado. People may commit petty theft without even realizing it.

Examples of petty theft include:

  • Switching tags or removing tags on merchandise in order to pay less than the accurate price
  • Eating in a restaurant and leaving without paying
  • Placing costume jewelry under your shirt or in your purse and leaving the store
  • Sneaking into a movie theater or staying to watch another movie without paying for another ticket
  • Eating food inside a grocery store without paying
  • Keeping earrings someone lends you after you were supposed to return the jewelry

Even if the offender offers to pay for the item or service after being caught, it doesn’t matter. The offender can still face charges of petty theft.

Punishment for Petty Theft

Petty theft is a petty offense punishable by the following:

  • Up to $500 in fines
  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Victim restitution payments 

Even though petty theft involves stealing something of little monetary value, the crime brings hefty punishment. Along with jail time and fines, the offender may face victim restitution. This means that the offender has to pay the victim back for the theft. 

If the defendant fails to repay the victim, the defendant may face:

  • Late fees
  • Collection agencies
  • Deduction of wages
  • Forfeiture of driver’s license

However, an offender can face even more severe penalties if they commit multiple petty thefts within a short time period. 

If you face a petty theft charge, a criminal attorney can help reduce your punishment.

Defenses to Petty Theft

A defense attorney may attempt to get your petty theft charge in Colorado dismissed or reduced with the following defenses:


If you own the property, your petty theft charge should be dismissed. However, if you co-own property, you can still be charged with petty theft for taking the property without permission.


If you did not intend to steal the property, your charge might be reduced or dismissed.

Illegal Search and Seizure 

If the police violated your fourth amendment rights with an illegal search or seizure, theft evidence may be inadmissible. In that case, the court could not convict you of petty theft without additional evidence.

Plea Bargain 

If you plead guilty to a lesser charge, the prosecution may agree to reduce your petty theft charge. This plea bargain could lessen the penalties you face.

A defendant may request a bench trial or a jury trial for a petty theft offense. Your criminal defense attorney can advise you on the best strategy for your case.

Get Legal Assistance for Your Petty Theft Charge

Have you been charged with petty theft in Colorado? If so, you should take this charge seriously. Though petty theft seems like a minor offense, it can land you in jail and go on your criminal record.

To get your petty theft charge dismissed or lower your punishment, call Miller Leonard. Miller, a former prosecutor, has represented thousands of criminal cases. He knows how to stand up for your best interest and believes everyone deserves someone to fight for them.

Call Miller Leonard for a free consultation. He’ll listen to your story, evaluate your case, and determine your best legal defense. Start your petty theft defense today.


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