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18-4-406. Concealment of goods.


If any person willfully conceals unpurchased goods, wares, or merchandise owned or held by and offered or displayed for sale by any store or other mercantile establishment, whether the concealment be on his own person or otherwise and whether on or off the premises of said store or mercantile establishment, such concealment constitutes prima facie evidence that the person intended to commit the crime of theft.


Source: L. 71: R&RE, p. 429, 1.C.R.S. 1963: 40-4-406.



Section held to be constitutional. A statute susceptible to different interpretations should be construed in a manner consistent with constitutional principles when reasonable to do so; therefore, the reference to prima facie evidence contained in this section establishes a permissive inference permitting but not requiring the finder of fact to find from evidence of willful concealment that the defendant intended to steal merchandise concealed. People in Interest of R.M.D., 829 P.2d 852 (Colo. 1992).

Willful concealment of goods that results in prima facie evidence of intent to commit theft does not violate due process standards. This section does not eliminate the prosecutions burden of proving intent to commit crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Prima facie does not require the fact finder to conclude that the prosecution has met such burden, but establishes a permissible inference. People In The Matter of R.M.D., 829 P.2d 852 (Colo. 1992).