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People v. Vidauri.

2021 CO 25. No. 19SC933. Theft—Public Benefits—Burden of Proof.

April 19, 2021

In this theft case, the Court of Appeals reviewed whether the evidence was sufficient to prove that defendant committed a class 4 felony theft. A division of the Court concluded that the evidence was insufficient because the prosecution had not shown the difference in value between the total amount of certain public benefits defendant received and the amount for which she might have been eligible had she accurately reported her household income. Therefore, the division reversed the trial court and entered judgment for the lowest level of theft, a class 1 petty offense.

Rejecting the overpayment approach in favor of a total amount approach, the Supreme Court concluded that because an applicant is not entitled to, and so has no legally cognizable interest in, any benefits until she has submitted accurate information demonstrating as much, all the benefits defendant received by submitting false information were obtained by deception. Accordingly, the evidence was sufficient to sustain defendant’s conviction for a class 4 felony theft.

The Court of Appeals’ judgment was reversed.

Official Colorado Supreme Court proceedings can be found at the Colorado Supreme Court website.

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