The crime of embezzlement is a form of theft in which an individual who is in a position of trust to manage or access the assets of another party steals money or other assets covertly. For example, the chief financial officer (CFO) of a large corporation slightly alters the sales reports over the course of a few years while funneling the unaccounted-for money into an anonymous offshore account. This would be embezzlement. In Colorado, embezzlement of private property is charged as theft and charges are based on the amount of money or value of assets allegedly taken.
Colorado also has a separate statute addressing theft of public property, which is a felony regardless of the amount involved. In addition to possible prison time, those convicted of this crime are also barred from holding public office ever again.
Colorado Embezzlement Laws at a Glance
Learn more about Colorado's embezzlement laws in the following table, including charges and penalties.
Colorado Revised Statutes § 18-4-401, § 18-8-407
|Statutory Definition of the Offenses
A person commits theft when he or she knowingly obtains, retains, or exercises control over anything of value of another without authorization or by threat or deception; or receives, loans money by pawn or pledge on, or disposes of anything of value or belonging to another that he or she knows or believes to have been stolen.
Embezzlement of Public Property
Every public servant who lawfully or unlawfully comes into possession of any public moneys or public property of whatever description, being the property of the state or of any political subdivision of the state, and who knowingly converts any of such public moneys or property to his own use or to any use other than the public use authorized by law is guilty of embezzlement of public property.
Embezzlement of Private Property (theft)
Theft, including embezzlement of private property, is charged according to the value of that which was stolen.
- $50: Class 1 petty offense
- $50-$300: Class 3 misdemeanor
- $300-$750: Class 2 misdemeanor
- $750-$2,000: Class 1 misdemeanor
- $2,000-$5,000: Class 6 felony
- $5,000-$20,000: Class 5 felony*
*Theft by means other than the use of force, threat, or intimidation is a class 5 felony without regard to the value of the thing taken.
Embezzlement of Public Property: Class 5 felony
Every person convicted under the provisions of this section shall be forever thereafter ineligible and disqualified from being a member of the general assembly of this state or from holding any office of trust or profit in this state.
The defendant may be ordered to pay restitution to the victim for damages accrued as a result of the crime. Depending on the overall impact on the victim, it could be more than the amount embezzled.
- Class 1 Petty Offense: Up to 6 months in jail and up to $500 in fines
- Class 3 Misdemeanor: Up to 6 months in jail and up to $750 in fines
- Class 2 Misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines
- Class 1 Misdemeanor: Up to 1.5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines
- Class 6 Felony: Up to 1.5 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines
- Class 5 Felony: Up to 3 years in prison and up to $100,00 in fines
Note: State laws are always subject to change. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult a Colorado criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Get Legal Help With Your Embezzlement Case
In the eyes of the Colorado courts, embezzlement is just another form of theft. However, theft of public property is taken much more seriously and comes with much stiffer penalties. If you have been charged with embezzlement or theft in Colorado, you will want to seek the counsel of an experienced Colorado defense attorney.