The Laws Surrounding Motor Vehicle Theft in Colorado

Earlier this month, two individuals broke into a man’s garage while he was relaxing in his garden in an attempt to steal his vehicle.

When the man realized what was happening, he threw himself onto the back of the vehicle in an attempt to stop them. The man was then dragged along the floor by the car before he finally let go. He was later taken to the hospital for his injuries.

While it was, of course, the vehicle owner who caused his own injuries by jumping onto the car, the Colorado laws surrounding theft mean that his injuries will likely be the responsibility of the thieves.

Why? Colorado’s laws surrounding those who steal vehicles are particularly tough—when an individual knowingly takes control of someone else’s motor vehicle without permission from the owner (or by deception or threat), they can be charged with second degree motor vehicle theft.

What’s more, the charge will be increased to a first degree motor vehicle theft if they cause another person to experience bodily injury, as was the case in this incident. A First degree motor vehicle theft will also apply if any of the following situations also occurred:

  • Committing a crime while using the vehicle
  • Causing at least $500 in property damage Making attempts to disguise or alter the vehicle
  • Possessing or controlling the vehicle for over 24 hours
  • Displaying or attaching another license plate on the vehicle
  • Removing or altering the vehicles identification number
  • Relocating the vehicle out of state for at least 12 months

These laws apply to all types of vehicles that do not run on rails and are not powered by muscle power. The penalties for the theft usually depend upon the value of the vehicle that was stolen and whether or not the offender has any previous charges. Motor vehicle theft sentencing types are as follows:

Second Degree Motor Vehicle Theft

Class 1 Misdemeanor: For vehicles valued at less than $1000, a convicted offender will endure up to 1.5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines

Class 6 Felony: For vehicles valued between $1,000, and $20,000, a convicted offender will face up to 1.5 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.

Class 5 Felony: For Vehicles valued at more than $20,000, a convicted offender will be sentenced to up to 3 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.

First Degree Motor Vehicle Theft

Class 4 Felony: For vehicles valued between $20,000 and $100,000, the convicted offender will face up to six years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines.

Class 3 Felony: For vehicles valued at over $100,000, a convicted offender will be sentenced with up to 12 years in prison and up to $750,000 in fines. This will also be applied if the offender already has 2 or more motor vehicle convictions (even if the car has a lesser value).

The consequences associated with vehicle theft in Colorado can quickly add up. With such a broad definition for what is considered a vehicle in the Colorado vehicle theft laws, Colorado is considered to carry heft penalties for this criminal act.

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About the Author: Alex Fisher