People v. McKinney

The Facts

The defendant, Daniel McKinney, was an owner of an insurance agency which sold insurance, annuities, and other investment products. McKinney and his wife, Rachel McKinney, stole a total of $ 70,000 from three insurance clients. The defendant took the money from two clients by promising to invest it on their behalf, but instead used the money for his own personal purposes. Moreover, he persuaded another client to cash in the annuity and deposit the money in two bank accounts: one-half into a joint savings account in the names of Mrs. McKinney and the client, and one-half into a checking account in the name of Mrs. McKinney alone. Over the following several months, Mrs. McKinney withdrew all of the money from both accounts and spent the money on his own personal expenses. All victims stood to be “at-risk adults” under Colorado law, i.e. two victims were over the age of sixty, and the third one was a mentally incapacitated adult.

Procedural History

The Supreme Court of Colorado reversed the judgment of the initial trial court and remanded it to review and correct.


As per Colorado legislature there are two categories of victims that qualify for heightened protection under criminal law, namely at-risk adults and at-risk juveniles [Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-6.5-101 (2003)]. An at-risk adult is any person who is 60-years of age or older or any person who is 18-years of age or older and is a person with a disability [Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-6.5-102(1) (2003)]. These persons are less likely to fully recover from crimes committed against them, and not physically or emotionally equipped to protect themselves or aid in their own security as non-at-risk adults.

Theft against an at-risk adult is an aggravated type form of general theft. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 16-5-401(4.5)(c) (2002 & 2003) applies to general theft as well as to theft against an at-risk adult due to the discovery tolling provision of the statute of limitations. Hence, time of a prosecution for this crime against an at-risk adult has to commence when the victim discovers the criminal act.

The Issue

Whether the trial court’s decision to apply Colo. Rev. Stat. § 16-5-401(4.5) to theft against an at-risk adult was correct.

The Holding/Reasoning

The Supreme Court of Colorado defined that prosecution of  a certain crime should not be foreclosed by criminal conduct that remains undetected for extended periods of time. “The crimes enumerated in the discovery tolling provision of the statute of limitations are similar in that they share the quality of being susceptible to concealment from the victim.”

The Court reversed the motion and asserted Colo. Rev. Stat. § 16-5-401(4.5) be applicable to theft against an at-risk adult because the act was a penalty-enhanced form of general theft according to Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-6.5-103(5) (2002 & 2003. Thus, the court held that “because Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-6.5-103(5) enhanced the penalties under the general theft statute, but did not create a separate offense, the trial court erroneously entered separate convictions for theft and theft against an at-risk adult.”

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