City attorney comments on theft legislation

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Chris Melcher
  • Chris Melcher

Better late than never.

Yesterday afternoon at 4:55, way past our deadline to send the paper to the printer, we received an e-mail from the city of Colorado Springs.

It was in response to a request for comment from Colorado Springs City Attorney Chris Melcher. The Indy submitted the request to Cindy Aubrey, the chief communications officer for the city, last week.

We were looking to include Melcher's point of view in a story about House Bill 1160.

Here's the gist of that story (that can be read in full here):

Is the Legislature preparing to "decriminalize" theft?

Pretty much, says Dan May, district attorney for the 4th Judicial District. May, whose office covers El Paso and Teller counties, is one of a few people speaking out against a bill that recently passed the House on a unanimous, bipartisan vote.

Based on work done by the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, HB 1160 essentially does two things. The first, which was the impetus for the bill, is to clean up the theft statutes in the state criminal code.

As May explains it: "consolidating them all into one section, and then sort of redefining it in an easier-to-handle method to understand all the little theft laws." He has no problem with this, he says.

What he does have problems with is how these theft statutes are redefined in terms of monetary value. Most concerning: This bill would raise the threshold at which a misdemeanor becomes a felony, from $1,000 to $2,000.

"It will decriminalize theft to some degree," says May, "because you are making a much greater population of misdemeanors."

Anyway, here's the e-mailed statement from the city:

“The City of Colorado Springs currently has jurisdiction to prosecute theft and shoplifting violations that are equivalent to the misdemeanor level, which involves amounts up to $1000. The bill, which changes the dollar amounts associated with misdemeanor and felony theft, would enable the City to prosecute violations where a value of up to $2000 is involved if City Council were to amend the City’s theft and shoplifting ordinances to give the City jurisdiction over those violations. These legislative changes could possibly increase the number of cases filed in Municipal Court. The Prosecution Division is glad to prosecute any appropriate case that is filed in Municipal Court and can be proven.”

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