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Colorado Burglary Laws

While burglary is typically associated with theft, under its traditional definition it only requires the unlawful entry into a structure and the intent to commit a crime inside. The intended crime need not involve theft as burglary can exist where someone breaks into a home to, for example, destroy something inside or commit an assault.

Colorado's burglary laws build on the two traditional aspects of unlawful entry and criminal intent and even go as far as to criminalize the possession of burglary tools. There are three degrees of burglary in Colorado and which one applies depends on the type of structure involved, which crimes are intended inside, what crimes actually took place inside, and whether any weapons were used.

For example, third degree burglary occurs where a person, with the intent to commit a crime, unlawfully enters into certain apparatuses or equipment such as a:

  • Vault
  • Safe
  • Cash register
  • Vending machine
  • Product dispenser
  • Money depository
  • Safety deposit box
  • Coin telephone
  • Coin box

Second degree burglary involves unlawful entry and the intent to commit a crime against another person or property inside. To illustrate with an unfortunately dark example, a person would not be guilty of second degree burglary if they broke into a house with the intent to commit suicide inside.

First degree burglary has the same elements as second degree burglary except that it also requires assaulting or menacing another person during the burglary or the use or threatened use of explosives or other deadly weapons.

Colorado Burglary Laws At A Glance

The chart below contains information about specific laws relating to burglary in Colorado.

Penalties and Sentences

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

Second Degree Burglary: This is a Class 4 felony punishable by up to 6 years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines. It can increase to a Class 3 felony if it involves a dwelling or if the objective was to steal controlled substances in a building.

Third Degree Burglary: This is a Class 5 felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. It can increase to a Class 4 felony if the objective was to steal controlled substances.


Defenses include:

  • Execution of public duty
  • Choice of evils/justification
  • Duress
  • Entrapment
  • Involuntary Intoxication
  • Impaired mental condition
  • Insanity
  • Age (no child under 10 can be guilty of any criminal offense)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Colorado Burglary Laws: Additional Resources

Get Legal Help with Your Burglary Case in Colorado

As you can see, there are a few different ways that a prosecutor can charge a Colorado burglary case. However, this could bode well for a defendant as it leaves room to negotiate a plea deal. If you're facing charges under Colorado burglary laws, speak with a seasoned criminal defense attorney today who can make all the difference in your case.

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