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People often think that theft is a crime and thus subject only to criminal prosecution. But Colorado law (specifically the “Rights in Stolen Property” statute, Section 18-4-405 of the Colorado Revised Statutes) allows an injured party file a civil lawsuit to recover damages stemming from theft. That statute provides that, in any such action, “the owner may recover two hundred dollars or three times the amount of the actual damages sustained by him, whichever is greater, and may also recover costs of the action and reasonable attorney fees.” This means that if you are the victim of theft, robbery, or burglary, you may be able to recover three times the amount of damages, along with your attorney’s fees, if you successfully litigate your claim. This makes the civil theft statute in Colorado a powerful tool.
So, what makes an action a theft? Generally, theft is when someone knowingly obtains, retains, or exercises control over anything of value without authorization or by theft of deception. Moreover, to succeed in a claim under this statute, you must show that the defendant did so with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the benefit of the property. In practice, this can be a little difficult to determine.
Moreover, Colorado’s civil theft statute has a strict statute of limitation (that is, a time limit in which you must bring a claim, otherwise you’re barred from doing so). The attorneys at Belzer Law are exceptionally familiar with civil theft claims—indeed, they recently recovered a nearly one-million-dollar verdict on a civil theft claim—and the attendant statute of limitations. Our attorneys can walk you through the strengths, weaknesses, and strategy of your civil theft claim, along with the costs and benefits of litigating such a claim.
Like civil theft, a claim for conversion means that someone was deprived of something of value. This claim focuses on whether a party has exercised “dominion and control” over the property of another—without authorization—in such a way that the original owner of the property is deprived of its use.
A conversion claim can arise in many ways. Sometimes, it is as straightforward as theft—that is, someone took something of yours without permission or authorization. Other times, however, the context is more nuanced. For example, what if you were using a piece of property with permission but then, in an argument, the owner revoked his or her permission and demanded the property back? This act, called a demand for possession, is important for a conversion claim. If your permission to use the property was rescinded, then the owner may have grounds to claim conversion if you keep using the property.
The damages resulting from conversion are typically the value of the property that was converted (as of the date of the conversion). However, the owner can also be entitled to interest on that value. And practically, conversion is closely related to civil theft, which has its own statutory penalties (including triple damages and an award of attorney’s fees if you prevail on that claim).
As with all legal claims, there are certain elements necessary to prove a claim of conversion—along with defenses to assert if you have been accused of conversion. Succinctly, the elements of a conversion claim require that the defendant knowingly exercised control over anything of value (which was the property of another), without authorization, and with the intent to permanently deprive that person of the use or benefit of the thing of value.
The attorneys at Belzer Law are familiar with conversion and civil theft claims and can guide you through any litigation arising from a claim for conversion, including relevant considerations and potential defenses.
Although Belzer Law’s passion is the law and the legal system generally, we know that not everyone enjoys the ins and outs of litigation like we do. In fact, most people (rightfully) find litigation to be stressful and emotionally taxing.
Colorado law recognizes this. In fact, Colorado provides a cause of action for people who have been unfairly or unjustly subjected to litigation. This claim is called a “malicious prosecution” claim. In Colorado, a claim for malicious prosecution arises when (1) you are dragged into the litigation system—either civil or criminal; (2) without probable cause and with malice; (3) you prevailed in that case; and (4) you were damaged.
In a typical malicious prosecution case, the plaintiff is seeking to recover damages for the harms suffered in the prior litigation—most often, attorney’s fees. But prevailing on a malicious prosecution claim also requires satisfying the other elements. Each of those elements have nuances, but you may have a claim for malicious prosecution if someone sued you without probable cause and with malice, and you ended up winning in that case. Contact the attorneys at Belzer Law today if you think that you may have a malicious prosecution case or if someone is accusing you of malicious prosecution. Our attorneys are experienced in evaluating these types of claims and can advise you on the strength of your claim or potential defenses.
Abuse of Process
We all have an idea of how the judicial system is supposed to be used—it is supposed to right the wrongs and hold people accountable for their actions. But there are times when the aims of justice are undermined and when people use the judicial system for something other than what it was designed for.
When this happens, an abuse of process claim may arise. In this context, “process” generally refers to the litigation or judicial process.
In Colorado, an abuse of process claim allows redress for the improper use of a civil or criminal legal procedure for an unintended, malicious, improper, or perverse reason. Importantly, this misuse cannot be justified by the underlying legal action. This means that an abuse of process claim does not arise just because one party had a weak case or brought a legitimate case out of anger or malice. Rather, abuse of process focuses on the malicious and deliberate abuse of certain legal procedures. Some examples of these types of legal procedures include the attachment of property, executions on property or garnishments, or subpoenas to testify.
If you believe that someone abused the legal process or if someone is accusing you of abusing the legal process, call the attorneys at Belzer Law to help better understand the elements of this claim and its possible defenses. Our attorneys can help you assess the claim and determine the best strategy for accomplishing your goals.
Despite the well-known catchy children’s rhyme, we all know that words can hurt people and businesses—and their reputations.
Defamation is a broad term that encompasses both libel (written) and slander (spoken) statements. Belzer Law attorneys specialize in litigating all types of issues concerning defamation.
We understand the importance of your reputation and how damaging defamation can be, both personally or professionally. The attorneys at Belzer Law also understand how stressful it can be to be accused of defamation. If you find yourself contemplating a defamation lawsuit or in the middle of defending one, contact our excellent attorneys. We can help guide you through the elements of a defamation claim and the possible defenses that may apply in your case.
We have all heard stories of scammers and conmen. We all get those phone calls offering to extend the warranty for our cars or saying that we won some prize. These types of scams are obvious, but there are other scams out there that are less obvious. Are these types of schemes considered fraud? Can you sue to recover your damages? If you can find the people responsible (which can often be the hardest part), the answer is maybe.
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