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Gerash Steiner, P.C. Featuring More Than 40 Years of Trial Experience

Can I Be Charged with Theft for Failing to Return a Rental Car?

Colorado’s theft law states that it is illegal to knowingly take a person’s property without their consent. Although many people know this applies to personal items, they might not be aware that it also applies to rental property, such as a car or furniture. If they do not return the item as agreed, they could be charged with an offense, and, if convicted, face jail time and steep fines.

A person could be charged with this offense for overlooking the rental period on the vehicle or believing the agreement had been extended when it hadn’t.

Such happened to a Colorado man recently. He was traveling down a road early one morning when police pulled him over on suspicion of driving under the influence. They arrested him on the spot and called a towing company to retrieve the vehicle.

Failure to Return the Vehicle or Extend the Agreement

Later that day, the arresting police department received a call from the towing company stating that the car had been reported as stolen and the driver who had been arrested earlier was at the office trying to pick it up. The man stated that he worked for a record label and often had cars rented for him to travel for business. He said that his employer had a deal with the rental company, where his rentals were automatically renewed.

The rental agreement the man provided showed that the vehicle was due back to the company nearly 3 months prior. A call to the rental company revealed that they had reported the vehicle stolen after the man failed to return it. They said neither he nor anyone else attempt to extend the agreement. The police department also learned that numerous attempts were made to contact the man and retrieve the vehicle.

What Are the Penalties for Rental Theft?

The man was arrested for a second time that day, this time for wrongful taking of property. Now he faces a felony-level charge on top of the initial one for driving under the influence. The conviction penalties he faces for the alleged theft depend on the value of the vehicle.

Under CRS § 18-4-401(2), theft becomes a felony offense when the value of the property is $2,000 or more.

Specifically, the classes of felony-level theft, according to the value of the stolen item, are as follows:

  • Class 6 felony: Value between $2,000 and $4,999
    • A conviction carries with it up to 18 months in prison
  • Class 5 felony: Value between $5,000 and $19,999
    • If convicted, a person could be looking at up to 3 years in prison
  • Class 4 felony: Value between $20,000 and $99,999
    • The penalties for a conviction include up to 6 years in prison
  • Class 3 felony: Value between $100,000 and $999,999
    • Potential conviction penalties include up to 12 years in prison
  • Class 2 felony: Value of $1,000,000 or more
    • A conviction could result in up to 24 years in prison

Speak with Gerash Steiner, P.C. About Your Case

If you were accused of stealing someone else’s property in Denver, our attorneys will help you understand the charges you’re facing and your legal options. We have over 40 years of combined experience, and we know how to build effective defense strategies to work toward a favorable outcome on your behalf.

Schedule your free consultation by calling us at (303) 732-5048 or contacting us online.