It was your idea of a perfect Sunday. You finally had a chance to get over to the mall to browse for some new clothes. Your day was completely planned out – do some shopping, head over to the Five Points area to get a hot dog at Biker Jim’s, and finally relax at home on the couch to watch the Denver Broncos game. Little did you know, however, that you would instead be spending the day talking with a police officer.
It all started at the H&M at Cherry Creek. This was the last stop in the mall before you were going to head out. With a couple of bags already in your hands, you headed into the store. It was after you had picked up a few shirts that you saw it – the perfect winter hat. With a long weekend coming up, this would be the perfect hat for your trip into Vail. Once you picked out the color you wanted – the last one in blue – you realized that with your bags and the other shirts, you didn’t have enough hands to hold it until it was time to checkout. You knew that you did not want to buy anything else, but you still had to try on the shirts. With how crowded the store was on this particular Sunday, you knew that you couldn’t risk leaving the hat on the rack while you went to the fitting room. With this, a decision point arose. And now, looking back on it, you know that you made the wrong one.
Instead of taking the risk of someone else picking up the hat, you decided to put the hat into your jacket pocket. This was just a temporary measure, as you planned to take it out at the checkout counter. But as you made your way back to the dressing room, an employee stopped you. After explaining your situation and intentions to this employee, they proceeded to alert their manager, who then called the storeowner. They were instructed to keep you at the store until either the police arrived or the owner could get there.
During that time, questions began to race through your head. Your intentions were never to steal or shoplift, so were you doing anything wrong? Is the store allowed to detain you the way that they are? Can you get punished without having actually shoplifted?
At the Law Office of Andres R. Guevara, we can help answer those questions as well as many others. On the topic of theft, robbery, and burglary, there are a lot of misconceptions and information that is unknown to the general public. In Colorado, there are very specific laws in place surrounding these topics. We are here to answer your questions.
What is Colorado law surrounding item concealment?
In the state of Colorado, concealment is considered theft. Concealing an item can happen in many different ways including putting an item in a purse, jacket, pocket, bag, or stroller. While people may conceal an item for many different reasons, concealment can act as evidence prior to a crime. Whether you are concealing an item because you cannot easily carry it or you intend to shoplift, concealment is still considered a crime in Colorado. This law states that store employees, security, or the owner have the right to stop you. Once you have been stopped, they have the ability to detain and question you on their own, although they are encouraged to call the police as well.
With this being said, when detaining or questioning a customer, under Colorado law, the employee, owner, or store security must be acting in good faith or probable cause. This means that this employee must actually think that you intend to shoplift this item. For example, if an employee sees a mother accidentally drop an item into their child’s stroller, only to put it back on the shelf upon noticing, the employee cannot detain her, although for a moment she was concealing an item.
There are many misconceptions about how employees are allowed to act if they suspect that a customer may be shoplifting, so it is important to understand the laws around concealment.
What are the different penalties for theft in the state of Colorado?
Many people have heard terms like petty theft, misdemeanor, and felony, but very few know the actual differences. If you have been accused of any type of theft, it is important to understand the differences in these punishments.
Class 2 Misdemeanor Theft (petty theft)
- Price of stolen property: <$500
- Minimum sentence: 3 months
- Maximum sentence: 12 months
- Minimum fine: $250
- Maximum fine: $1,000
Class 1 Misdemeanor Theft
- Price of stolen property: $500 – $1,000
- Minimum sentence: 6 months
- Maximum sentence: 18 months
- Minimum fine: $500
- Maximum fine: $5,000
Class 5 Felony Theft
*** In the case of a Class 5 Felony Theft, the property was stolen off of the body of another person without force.
- Minimum imprisonment: 1 year
- Maximum imprisonment: 3 years
- Parole minimum: 2 years
Class 4 Felony Theft
- Price of stolen property: $1,000 – $20,000
- Minimum sentence: 2 years
- Maximum sentence: 6 years
- Minimum fine: $2,000
- Maximum fine: $500,000
- Parole minimum: 3 years
Class 3 Felony Theft
- Price of stolen property: >$20,000
- Minimum sentence: 4 years
- Maximum sentence: 12 years
- Minimum fine: $3,000
- Maximum fine: $750,000
- Parole minimum: 5 years
If the person being tried for theft has prior convictions, these numbers may differ. Along with these penalties and punishments, the storeowner is allowed to ask for reimbursement for the cost of the items or damage, as well as an extra penalty up to $250.
Being accused of theft, robbery, or burglary can be daunting, especially if you do not know all of the facts. If you have any more questions on these topics as well as anything else surrounding criminal defense, contact us at the Law Office of Andres R. Guevara today.