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Under Colorado law, theft occurs when a person does one of the following:

  • Knowingly obtains or exercises control over anything of value of another without authorization;
  • By threat or deception, intends to deprive the other person permanently of the use or benefit of the thing of value;
  • Knowingly uses, conceals, or abandons the thing of value in such manner as to deprive the other person permanently of its use or benefit;
  • Uses, conceals, or abandons the thing of value intending that such use, concealment, or abandonment will deprive the other person permanently of its use and benefit;
  • Demands any consideration to which he is not legally entitled as a condition of restoring the thing of value to the other person.


For the purposes of this law, a thing of value is that of "another" if anyone other than the defendant has a possessory or proprietary interest therein (see Colorado Revised Statute 18-4-401).

Charges for theft of offenses include forms of theft like shoplifting, motor vehicle theft, identity theft, theft by fraud and deceit, theft of trade secrets, theft of medical records, theft of rental property, theft by writing a bad check, and even theft by resale of a lift ticket or coupon. Theft charges can also be included in other offenses such as burglary and robbery. Prosecuting government attorneys will often include additional charges to a theft charge in criminal courts, and for that reason it is important to get the help of an experienced team of criminal defense attorneys to research and defend against indictments with multiple charges.

So what is the difference between burglary or robbery compared to theft?

Burglary involves the unlawful entry into a building, or remaining unlawfully after a lawful entry, for the purpose of committing a crime inside.  It’s a common misperception that burglary involves stealing or theft, but that isn’t necessarily the case. The intent to commit another crime could be intent to commit the crimes of harassment, assault, menacing, criminal mischief, arson, vandalism, or any other crime under the Colorado criminal laws inside the building or dwelling.  In Colorado, First Degree Burglary is a Class 3 Felony (see Colorado Revised Statutes 18-4-202).

Robbery is the crime of taking something from someone else or in a person’s presence by use of force, threats, or intimidation regardless of the value of the property taken.  Robbery is a class 4 felony (see Colorado Revised statute 18-4-301). Robbery charges can also be aggravated if the crime is committed with a weapon, has assaulted the person, or put the person in fear of death or serious bodily injury.  Aggravated robbery is a class 3 felony (see Colorado revised statutes Aggravated Robbery 18-4-302).

Although every crime has a victim, the key difference between theft and robbery is that no person is immediately present or threatened when the charge is just theft. A robbery, on the other hand, always involves taking something from another individual by force.  Also it can be considered armed robbery or aggravated robbery if a weapon is used. So stealing a victim’s purse is robbery, stealing it at gunpoint is armed or aggravated robbery, but simple removing the purse when no one else is around is theft.

When a person is charged with robbery, often the person is charged with additional crimes such as theft, menacing, criminal mischief, assault, harassment or any other crime under the Colorado criminal laws.