Your Colorado shopping adventures are bound to include witnessing a shoplifter getting busted by The Man. What are the penalties for shoplifting from a Colorado business?

Depending on the item in question, getting nailed for shoplifting in Colorado can land you with ten days in jail and a $300 fine. It only gets worse from there. Here's a look at crime and punishment as it pertains to shoplifting in Colorado.

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What Brought This Up?

There I was, shopping at a Colorado Walmart, helping to keep prices low. Calmly going about my Black Friday shopping, another patron, clearly in a state of panic, bumped into me. As this young male sped past me, he threw an item onto a nearby endcap.

As he hustled down the main corridor of the toy section (okay, I admit it, I was in the toy section), a Walmart employee sporting the Blue Vest of Power gave chase.

Later, as I left the store, it became abundantly clear the young man had been busted for shoplifting. Out of curiosity, a visit was paid to the aisle where the person had disposed of the item. As it turns out, the jettisoned merchandise was a $12 pair of sunglasses. Imagine risking a record, fines, and possible jail time, all on account of a $12 pair of sunglasses you don't need.

What Is Shoplifting?

According to Shouse Law, Colorado's legal definition of shoplifting is:

Shoplifting is knowingly taking merchandise from a store without paying. You must intend to deprive the owner of the merchandise permanently, and you do not have the permission of the store owner to take the goods.

The site adds that under Colorado theft laws, shoplifting crimes include such acts as:

  • Physically taking items from a shop without paying for them;
  • Returning an item to a store that you did not buy in order to get money or credit (“fraudulent returns”); and/or
  • Altering labels, price tags, or packaging to pay less money – or nothing – for an item

What Is The Penalty For Shoplifting in Colorado

If convicted, the penalty could be one of a few things. According to Shouse Law, theft of less then $300 worth of goods, aka 'petty theft' could result in up to ten days in jail and up to a $300 fine.

If you turn it up a notch, theft in the amount of $300 to $1,000, a Class 2 misdemeanor, could result in up to 120 days in jail and up to $750 in fines.

From this point, it just keeps getting nastier. Fines and potential jail time increase as the dollar value of the shoplifted merchandise increases.

Imagine someone shoplifts an item worth between $1,000 and $2,000, a Class 1 misdemeanor. Let's say they shoplift a big-screen TV. Okay, you're saying, "How could someone shoplift a big-screen TV?" Hey, it has been done. In this case, if convicted, the perp could face up to 364 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.

The Orr Law Firm adds, "It’s important to note that the aforementioned fines would be in addition to any restitution a judge orders a convicted person to pay to their victim."

How Long Does Shoplifting Remain On a Person's Record In Colorado?

How long a shoplifting conviction stays on your record depends on the level of the offense. Shouse Law reports "Shoplifting convictions in Colorado remain on your records unless and until they are sealed. All shoplifting convictions may be sealable unless they are for class 2 or class 3 felonies."

Nobody wants to fork over $300 in fines and spend the holidays in the Pokey. Even a petty offense carries a hefty price tag in Colorado.

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