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18-4-203. Third degree burglary.

18-4-202 Third Degree Burglary

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Colorado statute CRS 18-4-204 — known as third-degree burglary — is a theft crime defined as breaking into a locked vault, safe, or box with the intent to commit a crime. It is a class 5 felony and is punishable by up to 3 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

Penalties for Third-Degree Burglary in Colorado

Charge Classification Penalty
Burglary: First Degree Felony Class 3: up to $750,000 in fines; up to 12 years incarceration
Burglary: Second Degree Felony Class 3: up to $750,000 in fines; up to 12 years incarceration

Class 4: up to $500,00 in fines; up to 6 years incarceration

Burglary: Third Degree Felony Class 5: up to to $100,000 in fines; up to 3 years incarceration
Burglary: Possessing Tools Felony Class 5: up to $100,000 in fines; up to 3 years incarceration
(Colo. Rev. Stat. § § 18-4-202, 18-4-203, 18-4-204, 18-4-205.)

Here Is What The Prosecution Must Prove to Convict You

The elements of the crime of first degree burglary are:

  1. That the defendant,
  2.  in the State of Colorado, at or about the date and place charged,
  3. with intent,
  4. to commit a crime,
  5. entered or broke into,
  6. any vault, safe, cash register, coin vending machine, product dispenser, money depository, safety deposit box, coin telephone, coin box, or other apparatus or equipment, whether or not coin operated.
  7. If there is an affirmative defense raised, the prosecution must also prove that the defendant’s conduct was not legally authorized by the affirmative defense.

Possible Defenses for Third-Degree Burglary in Colorado

The penalties for a third-degree burglary charge can be severe, as the crime constitutes a class five felony. Third-degree burglary can even carry a class four felony charge if it involves theft, or attempted theft, of a controlled substance.

Burglary of the third degree encompasses breaking into someone’s property rather than someone’s physical residence or dwelling.
To be charged with burglary of the third degree, one would need to break into any of the following property types with the intent to commit a theft crime:

  • Vault or safe
  • Cash register or money depository
  • Coin vending machine
  • Coin box or money box
  • Locker
  • Slot machine
  • Product dispenser
  • Safety deposit box

To build a criminal defense against a third-degree burglary charge, it is helpful to understand what the jury needs to prove a theft crime happened beyond a reasonable doubt. The elements of offense outline the elements a jury needs to prove to indict for a criminal burglary offense.

Elements of Offense in Third-Degree Burglary

In burglary cases, the prosecution must prove three main elements of the offense for a criminal indictment.

They include:

  • Enter—Unlawful entry into the property (i.e., that you didn’t have authorized access to the physical property you broke into)
  • Structure—The person knowingly broke into an unauthorized piece of property or container
  • Intent—The person unlawfully broke into the property with the intent to commit a crime

Possible Defenses for Third-Degree Burglary

Therefore, to successfully defend against a third-degree burglary conviction, you need to prove that:

  • You were on the property lawfully, or that you did not know you were illegally entering the property
  • You broke into a property that is not a type covered under the statute
  • You did not intend to commit the crime before entering the property

Colorado Revised Statutes, CRS 18-4-204:

(1) A person commits third-degree burglary if, with intent to commit a crime, he enters or breaks into any vault, safe, cash register, coin vending machine, product dispenser, money depository, safety deposit box, coin telephone, coin box, or other apparatus or equipment whether or not coin operated.

(2) Third degree burglary is a class 5 felony, but it is a class 4 felony if 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 in or upon the property burglarized.

Have you been charged or arrested for a Third-degree burglary felony in Colorado Springs or El Paso County?

First, you should know that third-degree burglary in Colorado is a crime with serious consequences, including heavy fines and a prison sentence.

For the prosecutor to convict you, they will have to convince a jury that you entered the premises unlawfully and intended to commit a crime upon entering.

A criminal burglary charge requires a jury to find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. There are many possible defenses to this charge, including whether you were authorized to enter the structure or intended to commit a crime.

Still, to defend yourself against a burglary charge, you must understand how the law applies and what the District Attorney in El Paso County must prove to indict you. Contact a criminal defense attorney at Right Law Group for more help.

Don’t let one wrong decision impact your life, job or freedom.

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Colorado criminal procedure

  • Arrest or

    Arrest or

    The process begins with either an arrest or a summons. The accused is either arrested or served with paperwork summoning them to appear in court. During an arrest, Miranda rights may or may not be read to you. Officers are only required to recite your rights if they intend to question you about potentially incriminating things.

  • Bond Hearing

    Bond Hearing

    In most cases, you're entitled to have a reasonable bond set after you've been arrested. In situations involving domestic violence, the police will request input from the victim before setting a bond. Bonds are set to ensure that a person appears in court at their court dates. If they don’t show up, they forfeit the money that was paid for the bond.

  • Advisement of

    Advisement of

    Whether you are arrested or given a summons to appear, the court must make sure you understand what crimes you are being accused of committing. This is called advisement of charges. The District Attorney will detail the specific charges against you, and the Judge has to make sure you understand what possible penalties are associated with that charge in the state.

  • Preliminary Hearing
    (for Higher Felony

    Preliminary Hearing
    (for Higher Felony

    A preliminary hearing is a way for your defense attorney to challenge the District Attorney’s right to bring charges against you by making them prove that there is reason to believe you committed a crime. The Judge is not deciding your guilt or innocence, but rather whether or not there is probable cause to charge you with the crime in question.

  • Pretrial Conference /

    Pretrial Conference /

    This court date comes after your attorney has reviewed all of the reports and evidence in your case. Here’s where your attorney will engage in plea negotiations with the DA. If they can reach an agreement on the case, you may be able to take a plea bargain. If they cannot reach a resolution, your case will be set for an arraignment or trial date.

  • Arraignment


    An arraignment is the final date for you to decide how you choose to plea. Guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, then the case is set for a sentencing date. If you plead not guilty, you and your attorney will then set the case for trial.

  • Motions Hearing

    Motions Hearing

    A motion hearing is when an attorney makes a request that requires a decision from the judge. For example, motions to suppress evidence or statements. These motions can limit the information that goes before a jury if it benefits your case, and there are legal grounds for doing so.

  • Pretrial Readiness

    Pretrial Readiness

    A pretrial readiness conference is held at some point before trial. It usually is held about a week to a month before the date trial is set to begin. This court date ensures everyone is ready to go to trial on the set date. It is also a time for lawyers to bring up any issues they may have to be addressed before the day of trial.

  • Jury Trial

    Jury Trial

    After a jury is selected for trial, the District Attorney’s responsibility is to present the case to the jury. The DA must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime. Otherwise, the jury must find you innocent. Your attorney will be able to cross-examine all of the witnesses, present evidence, and ultimately help you navigate this process.

  • Sentencing


    At sentencing, the Judge must decide the appropriate legal penalty for the crime you plead guilty. The Judge’s decision is based on the listed penalties for the specific charge, recommendations from the presentence investigation, your criminal history, as well as statements made at the sentencing by the District Attorney, your attorney, you, and any named victims of the crime.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does “third-degree” in burglary mean under Colorado law?

Under Colorado criminal law, burglary in the third degree means that the person broke into a safe, vault, or locked container without legal authority. Third-degree burglary refers to breaking and entering into a locked physical property, like a vault, instead of illegally entering a dwelling, residence, or occupied building (which would constitute a first or second-degree burglary charge).

How much jail time for third-degree burglary in Colorado?

In Colorado, burglary in the third degree is a Class 5 felony and, as such, carries a penalty of up to three years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

How serious is third-degree burglary in Colorado?

Committing any type of burglary in Colorado is considered a severe crime and, as such, is given a felony classification. A third-degree burglary in Colorado is severe enough to warrant a Class 5 felony charge and carry up to $100,000 in fines and three years in prison.