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Colorado Criminal Law – The Confusion Between Robbery 18-4-301 & Burglary 18-4-203 Crimes

By H. Michael Steinberg Denver Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – Attorney

Colorado Criminal Law - The Confusion Between Robbery 18-4-301 & Burglary 18-4-203 CrimesColorado Criminal Law – The Confusion Between Robbery 18-4-301 & Burglary 18-4-203 Crimes – The general public almost always confuses the crime of Robbery with Burglary. “My house was robbed” while we were on vacation is not true. The house was burglarized when you were not there. The distinction is more than semantics – it is legally significant.

In a nutshell the Colorado crime of Burglary is defined as entering in to a structure (such as a house or business) without permission and with the intent to commit a crime once inside.

Robbery, on the other hand, involves the use of fear or force to take personal property belonging to another from in that person’s presence.

In Colorado, the elements of the crime of Burglary 8-4-201, C.R.S. are:

1. That the defendant,

2. in the State of Colorado, at or about the date and place charged,

3. knowingly,

4. broke an entrance into, entered unlawfully in, or remained unlawfully after a lawful or unlawful entry in,

5. a building or occupied structure,

6. with intent to commit therein the crime[s] of [ e.g. theft, or criminal mischief] against another person or property.

In Colorado, the elements of the crime of Robbery 18-4-301, C.R.S. are:

1. That the Defendant,

2. in the State of Colorado, at or about the date and place charged,

3. knowingly,

4. took anything of value,

5. from the person or presence of another,

6. by the use of force, threats, or intimidation

Robbery is considered the more serious of the two offenses because in involves the application or threatened application of of physical force or intimidation against the victim at any time. This is a very personal and dangerous crime. It escalates the felony to a crime of violence because the violence happens during the course of the commission of the crime and culminates in the taking of property from the victim’s person or presence.

The mental state of the crime – the “intent to steal” is a substantive element in the commission of the crime of robbery.

The term from the “presence of another” is defined in the law and means that the property stolen is so within the victim’s reach, inspection or observation that he or she would be able to retain control over the property but for the force, threats, or intimidation directed by the perpetrator against the victim.

The punishment for the crime of Robbery, unlike Theft, does not depend on the value of the property. The actual value of the items taken does not impact the Felony level of the charge filed against the accused “robber.”

Why People Often Confuse The Colorado Crimes Of Burglary 8-4-201, C.R.S. & Robbery 18-4-301

First, it is important to note that both of these crimes are serious. Second, it is clear that while burglary and robbery are similar, they are legally distinct concepts that, depending on the facts and evidence of a case, may carry very different sentences in a Colorado courtroom.

What makes the crimes of Burglary dangerous, is that the crime involves gaining unauthorized entry into a structure, such as a home, which may be occupied by people at the time of entry, with an intent to commit a crime inside that structure. This is sometimes referred to as a “home invasion.”

However, while Burglary, although in its’ most serious form – the home invasion – may entail the use of violence or the threat of violence to another person, – the crime usually does not involve violence and is more about a violation of property rights than a violation of the person.

The Most Familiar Example of The Colorado Crime OF Burglary

When a person enters your home while you are away and steals your property – you were not “robbed” – you were “burglarized.” If you are home when the burglary occurred and were confronted by the burglars, you were both the victim of Burglary AND the victim of Robbery.

Compare Burglary to Robbery.

Robbery does not usually involve any breaking and entering, rather it involves the taking property from another person, either directly or in their presence. There is an intent to steal that property and to steal it using force or with the threat of force.

The location is not a necessary element and it may occur inside of a person’s home (such as a home invasion) or in public – such as outside a bar on the sidewalk. Before a person can be charged in Colorado with Robbery, a victim or victims must be present at the scene. One example is a bank robbery during business hours.

Sentence Enhancements (Increased Punishment) – When A Crime Includes Special Facts

While the key elements of Robbery require an act of violence or the threat of violence, enhancements that will lead to a charge of Aggravated Robbery include the use of a weapon – such as a knife to threaten the person being “robbed.” Thus the charge of Robbery under Colorado law becomes “Aggravated Robbery as follows:

§ 18-4-301 Robbery

(1) A person who knowingly takes anything of value from the person or presence of another by the use of force, threats, or intimidation commits robbery.

(2) Robbery is a class 4 felony.

§ 18-4-302 Aggravated Robbery

(1) A person who commits robbery is guilty of aggravated robbery if during the act of robbery or immediate flight therefrom:

(a) He is armed with a deadly weapon with intent, if resisted, to kill, maim, or wound the person robbed or any other person; or

(b) He knowingly wounds or strikes the person robbed or any other person with a deadly weapon or by the use of force, threats, or intimidation with a deadly weapon knowingly puts the person robbed or any other person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury; or

(c) He has present a confederate, aiding or abetting the perpetration of the robbery, armed with a deadly weapon, with the intent, either on the part of the defendant or confederate, if resistance is offered, to kill, maim, or wound the person robbed or any other person, or by the use of force, threats, or intimidation puts the person robbed or any other person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury; or

(d) He possesses any article used or fashioned in a manner to lead any person who is present reasonably to believe it to be a deadly weapon or represents verbally or otherwise that he is then and there so armed.

(3) Aggravated robbery is a class 3 felony and is an extraordinary risk crime that is subject to the modified presumptive sentencing range specified in section 18-1.3-401(10).

(4) If a defendant is convicted of aggravated robbery pursuant to paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of this section, the court shall sentence the defendant in accordance with the provisions of section 18-1.3-406.

Similarly with Burglary, what distinguishes a Class 3 Felony Second Degree Burglary from the lesser charge of Class 4 Felony Second Degree Burglary is what is being “burgled” – Is it a person’s home or their business?

§ 18-4-203 Second Degree Burglary

(1) A person commits second degree burglary, if the person knowingly breaks an entrance into, enters unlawfully in, or remains unlawfully after a lawful or unlawful entry in a building or occupied structure with intent to commit therein a crime against another person or property.

(2) Second degree burglary is a class 4 felony, but it is a class 3 felony if:

(a) It is a burglary of a dwelling; or

(b) It is a burglary, the objective of which is the theft of a controlled substance, as defined in section 18-18-102(5), lawfully kept within any building or occupied structure.

Compare Second Degree Burglary To The Colorado Crime Of First Degree Burglary

In Colorado Second Degree Burglary becomes First degree burglary when the accused is alleged to have increased the risk of deadly or bodily harm to an occupant or another person present at the time of the Burglary by possessing a deadly weapon such that he knowingly places or attempts to place such person in fear of serious bodily injury or intends to, and does, cause serious bodily injury to any person.

Essentially there are three main forms of Burglary in Colorado. They are:

Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-4-202 (First degree burglary)

Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-4-203 (Second degree burglary)

Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-4-204 (Third degree burglary)

An example of how the facts and evidence will impact the sentences is as follows:

First Degree Burglary: – is a Class 3 felony punishable by up to 12 years in prison and up to $750,000 in fines.

Second Degree Burglary: – is a Class 4 felony punishable by up to 6 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines. BUT – the penalty increases to a Class 3 felony if the crime occurs in a dwelling or if the objective is to steal controlled substances in a building.

Third Degree Burglary: – is a Class 5 felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. BUT, it can increase to a Class 4 felony if the objective of the commission of the crime is to steal controlled substances.

Distinguishing The Colorado Crimes Of Burglary and Robbery To The Colorado Crime Of Extortion

Extortion is another crime that can sometimes be confusing in this area.

In Colorado extortion is committed when an individual forces someone to do something against their will by threatening them with damage to:

  • The person’s reputation,
  • The person’s finances,
  • The persons body, or property.

Extortion is distinguished from robbery because the victims of extortion hand over the item or items being extorted in an attempt to avoid the threat being used against them.

The Colorado Crime Of Extortion – 18-3-207

§ 18-3-207 Criminal Extortion – Aggravated Extortion

(1) A person commits criminal extortion if:

(a) The person, without legal authority and with the intent to induce another person against that other person’s will to perform an act or to refrain from performing a lawful act, makes a substantial threat to confine or restrain, cause economic hardship or bodily injury to, or damage the property or reputation of, the threatened person or another person; and

(b) The person threatens to cause the results described in paragraph (a) of this subsection (1) by:

(I) Performing or causing an unlawful act to be performed; or

(II) Invoking action by a third party, including but not limited to, the state or any of its political subdivisions, whose interests are not substantially related to the interests pursued by the person making the threat.

(1.5) A person commits criminal extortion if the person, with the intent to induce another person against that other person’s will to give the person money or another item of value, threatens to report to law enforcement officials the immigration status of the threatened person or another person.

(2) A person commits aggravated criminal extortion if, in addition to the acts described in subsection (1) of this section, the person threatens to cause the results described in paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of this section by means of chemical, biological, or harmful radioactive agents, weapons, or poison.

(3) For the purposes of this section, “substantial threat” means a threat that is reasonably likely to induce a belief that the threat will be carried out and is one that threatens that significant confinement, restraint, injury, or damage will occur.

(4) Criminal extortion, as described in subsections (1) and (1.5) of this section, is a class 4 felony. Aggravated criminal extortion, as described in subsection (2) of this section, is a class 3 felony.

Colorado Criminal Law – The Confusion Between Robbery 18-4-301 & Burglary 18-4-203 Crimes

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The reader is admonished that Colorado criminal law, like criminal law in every state and at the Federal level, changes constantly. The article appearing above was accurate at the time it was drafted but it cannot account for changes occurring after it was uploaded.

If, after reading this article, you have questions about your case and would like to consider retaining our law firm, we invite you to contact us at the Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm – 303-627-7777.

Never stop fighting – never stop believing in yourself and your right to due process of law. You will not be alone in court, H. Michael will be at your side every step of the way – advocating for justice and the best possible result in your case. H. Michael Steinberg is passionate about criminal defense. His extensive knowledge and experience of Colorado Criminal Law gives him the edge you need to properly handle your case

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H. Michael works hard to get his clients the best possible results in and out of the courtroom. He has written, and continues to write, extensively on Colorado criminal law and he hopes this article helps you in some small way – Colorado Criminal Law – The Confusion Between Robbery 18-4-301 & Burglary 18-4-203 Crimes.

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H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
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