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Knowing the difference between theft and robbery

On Behalf of | Aug 14, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Theft and robbery may sound similar, but they are two distinct crimes under Colorado law. The penalties for each also differ.

What sets theft and robbery apart? And what are the penalties a person can face if convicted of either?


A person can be charged with theft if they knowingly obtain or keep anything of value from another person, whether through deception, threat or misrepresentation.

The penalties for theft depend on the value of the stolen item. On the lowest end, a convicted person faces a maximum $300 fine and up to 10 days in jail for a theft conviction involving less than $300 – considered a petty offense. But for thefts of items worth $1 million or more, the accused person faces a Class 2 felony conviction with a maximum $1 million fine and up to 24 years in prison.


Per Colorado law, a person commits robbery if they take anything valuable from another through force, intimidation or threats of force. Because violence is involved, robbery is a Class 4 felony regardless of the value of stolen items, and a conviction leads to a maximum fine of $500,000 and up to six years in prison. But there’s another level to a robbery charge.

A person can be charged with aggravated robbery if any of the following conditions apply:

  • Deadly weapons: The person had a deadly weapon during the alleged crime, intending to maim or kill the robbery target.
  • Injury or intimidation caused: The person used a deadly weapon and knowingly wounded or intimidated the other, putting the other in reasonable fear of further injury or death.
  • The threat of a deadly weapon: The person attempts to threaten the target of robbery by saying they’re armed, even if their “weapon” isn’t real or they’re pretending they’re armed.
  • An armed accomplice: The person worked with an accomplice with a weapon to threaten the other.

Aggravated robbery is a Class 3 felony. A conviction carries a maximum $750,000 fine and up to eight years in prison.

Theft and robbery refer to two similar crimes with very different circumstances. Anyone charged with either crime must understand that any violence that allegedly occurred during the incident can be used against them.

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