In Colorado, the laws cover two different basic types of crimes: violent crimes and property crimes. How is a particular act determined to be “violent” or specific to property, though? Can it be both?
We’ll describe both categories of crimes in this post – violent and property – and let you know what you can do to fight back if you are facing charges.
Non-Violent Criminal Acts: Colorado Property Crimes
Most property crimes involve the taking of property or money without the use of force or the threat of force. Crimes like burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft are property crimes in Colorado.
Arson is another type of property crime that may involve force, but is categorized as a property crime because it is the destruction of property.
Burglary is the most serious form of a property crime and is punished the most severely. Larceny-theft and motor vehicle theft follow in terms of punishment levels. Arson is punishable by the amount and type of damage that occurred. For example, the arson of a garden shed is likely to be punished less severely than the arson of an entire church.
Other property crimes include the following:
- Tax evasion
- Drug crimes
- Crimes that involve alcohol use
- Receipt of stolen goods
Reports of property crimes are declining across the nation, yet are heavily penalized by the Colorado court system. Larceny-theft is the most common type of property crime, comprising nearly 70 percent of all cases. Burglary makes up about 25 percent of the cases, and motor vehicle theft comprises nearly eight percent of property crimes.
It’s possible that a property crime can be classified as a violent crime if force is used. For example, if a drug crime involves harm to an individual, it can be classified as a violent crime.
What exactly makes a crime “violent,” though?
Understanding Violent Crimes in Colorado
Quite simply, violent crimes involve the use of force or the threat of force to cause injury or death to another person. It is important to note, however, that “injury” does not necessarily have to be physical. Violent crimes are normally punished according to the level of harm experienced by the victim.
Countless crimes qualify as “violent” under Colorado law. Examples include aggravated assault, robbery, sexual crimes, domestic violence, false imprisonment and nonnegligent manslaughter or murder. Murder is the most serious type of violent crime, followed by manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
As with property crimes, the level of reported violent crimes has actually decreased over the past 10 years. Aggravated assault comprises about 63 percent of all reported cases. Robbery is the second most common type of violent crime, making up almost 30 percent of cases. Reported rape cases make up nearly seven percent of the total, and murder or manslaughter is just over one percent of all cases.
If a firearm is used in conjunction with a violent crime, the charge typically becomes a felony. Firearms are used in almost 70 percent of murders, 41 percent of all robberies, and nearly 22 percent of aggravated assaults.
Individual characteristics can increase charges for a violent crime. If the victim was a child, woman or police officer, for example, the charges are automatically prosecuted at a higher level.
Colorado Violent Crimes Tend to Get More Attention – and Harsher Punishments
If you have been accused of committing a crime of violence, you need to start putting together the strongest possible defense as quickly as possible. These are the kinds of acts that get attention in the news and cause visceral reactions in judges and juries.
To avoid suffering serious consequences, put your best foot forward by contacting an experienced attorney now.
About the Author:
Since 2005, Jeffrey L. Weeden has been practicing criminal defense law in Colorado and has helped countless clients protect their rights and freedoms as a respected, caring, hard-nosed criminal defense attorney. Over the course of his career, Mr. Weeden’s work has been recognized in numerous ways, including being named to the Top 100 Trial Lawyers list by The National Trial Lawyers, earning a 10.0 “Suberb” Avvo rating, receiving Martindale-Hubbard’s highest peer review rating — AV Preeminent, and being asked to speak on several issues of interest to the legal community. Additionally, he is someone who cares deeply about his community and those in need, and is an active member of a number of professional legal organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center and Law Firm Pro Bono Coordinators.