When you least expected it, you got the call that most parents in Colorado dread – law enforcement arrested your child for shoplifting, and now he or she is facing criminal charges. Depending on the circumstances, the penalties can be relatively mild or severe.

It may help to understand the laws regarding shoplifting and theft in Colorado, as well as the consequences. For example, if your daughter takes a small item that is worth less than $50, such as a palette of eyeshadow, she could spend up to six months in jail and have to pay $500 in fines. Anything between $50 and $2,000 is a misdemeanor charge with higher penalties. A theft of over $2,000 in value is a felony charge that may result in thousands of dollars in fines and 1.5 or more years in prison.

Different types of shoplifting

Your teenager might erroneously think that shoplifting is simply hiding an item and sneaking it out of the store. Shoplifting, in fact, can also include altering the price of a tag, switching a higher price tag with a lower one or putting a sale tag on an item that is not on sale. Changing the price of an item and paying a false price qualifies as theft, regardless of your child paying for the item.

A teen’s defense

Many teenagers misunderstand the severity of shoplifting, thinking it is a harmless joke instead of a crime. Additionally, your child might be under pressure from friends to take clothing, jewelry or other items despite not wanting to participate. It is also possible your teen could be charged with shoplifting by accompanying a friend who has stolen something, even if your child did not take anything from the store.

Facing criminal charges can be frightening and confusing for both you and your child. It is important to seek experienced legal advice in these cases.