It’s a First Offense Shoplifting- What Happens if I Get Caught Shoplifting in Colorado?

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I got caught shoplifting, what will happen to me?

Shoplifting, even a first offense, is charged as a theft offense in Colorado, even if you gave the merchandise back.  Giving the items back does not mean that you cannot be charged or even convicted of shoplifting.  It could mean that you would not have to pay restitution for the item a may be a mitigating factor in considering a sentence.

The severity of a first offense shoplifting charge will depend on the amount allegedly taken.  Shoplifting an item or items under $500.00 is a class 2 misdemeanor, if the amount is between $500.00 but below $1,000.00 it would be a class 1 misdemeanor.  If the amount taken is over $1,000.00 you could face felony theft charges for shoplifting.  A conviction for shoplifting is a theft conviction and could have future consequences, such as denial of a job application.  Contact a criminal defense attorney to review your specific situation.

If this is a first offense shoplifting or the amount taken was relatively low, you may not have been arrested and taken to jail on the date you were accused of shoplifting.  It is common for you to receive a citation only for a shoplifting charge with a notice to appear at a specific court on a specific date and time.  Carefully look and remember that date and time.  This is your court date, you must appear, if you do not appear, a judge could order a bench warrant for your arrest.

What can I expect at the first hearing if I’m accused of shoplifting?

if this is a first offense shoplifting- this may be your first experience with courts and the criminal justice process.  At the first hearing you will hear the charges against you and possibility receive a plea offer from the prosecutor.  The plea offer would be a plea of guilty to the shoplifting charge and the punishment that the prosecutor wants you to complete.  You have a right to have an attorney with you during this process, if you cannot afford one, you may qualify for the public defenders services.  If you think that you can explain to the judge or prosecutor any mitigating factors, don’t.  Get an attorney; attorneys are professional negotiators who know how and when to present any mitigating factors in shoplifting cases.

What could my punishment for shoplifting be?

If it is a first offense shoplifting, you may be eligible for a diversion program or a no jail offer.  This would depend on the jurisdiction in which you are being charged and the amount that was allegedly taken.

If you have prior theft or shoplifting charges, the punishments could increase and you risk elevating the offense to a felony.  For example, two or more shoplifting charges within six months, may be charged as a felony if the total amount is over $1,000.00.   See our general page on Colorado theft law for more detailed information.

Thank you for visiting our post on shoplifting.  For more information about the author, Laurie Schmidt, click here or to talk about your specific situation, you can contact us by clicking here or call us at (303) 747-4686.