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Untitled---2023-09-01T122134.850.jpgAuto theft is a criminal offense that involves illegally taking or operating someone else's vehicle without their consent. In the state of Wisconsin, auto theft is usually charged as a felony offense, and it can lead to serious penalties for those who are convicted of this crime. If you or someone you know has been charged with auto theft in Milwaukee or other parts of Wisconsin, an experienced lawyer can help you understand the potential consequences and your options for defense.

Operating a Vehicle Without the Owner’s Consent

Under Wisconsin law, it is illegal to drive or operate a motor vehicle without receiving consent from the vehicle’s owner. A person who is accused of taking a vehicle and driving it without permission may face Class H felony charges for a first offense and Class F felony charges for a second offense. Taking and driving a commercial motor vehicle without consent may result in Class G felony charges.

A person who is convicted of a Class H felony related to auto theft may be sentenced to up to six years in prison and may be required to pay a fine of up to $10,000. A Class F felony conviction for a second offense may lead to a sentence of up to 12.5 years and a maximum fine of $25,000. A Class G felony conviction for theft of a commercial vehicle can include a sentence of up to 10 years and a maximum $25,000 fine.


The definition of theft varies greatly, and so do the offenses that fall under this category. From taking a candy bar from a store shelf to providing false receipts to obtain a loan, there are a wide range of theft charges that a person may face in Wisconsin. For those accused of shoplifting, it is important to know the charges that may be tied to retail theft, especially since they depend upon the value of the items that were allegedly stolen and the type of theft being alleged. 

What Are the Different Types of Shoplifting and Theft Charges?

Shoplifting, a.k.a. “Retail Theft”, includes more than just taking an item off the shelf. In fact, Wisconsin statutes list eight different ways in which a person’s actions can be considered retail theft. According to Wisconsin statute 943.50, a person can be penalized if they do any of these actions without a merchant’s consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession of the item or the full purchase price of the item:

  • Intentionally alters the price tag of merchandise being sold by a merchant;
  • Intentionally takes and carries away merchandise being sold by a merchant;
  • Intentionally transfers merchandise being sold by a merchant;
  • Intentionally conceals merchandise being sold by a merchant;
  • Intentionally retains possession of merchandise being sold by a merchant;
  • While anywhere in a store, intentionally removes theft detection measures from merchandise being sold by a merchant;
  • Uses, or possesses with intent to use, a device meant to shield merchandise being sold by a merchant from being detected by a magnetic or electronic sensor; and/or
  • Uses, or possesses with intent to use, a device meant to remove methods of theft detection from merchandise being sold by a merchant.      

The crimes above are relatively common. However, there are some forms of theft that many people do not think of but which can still have legal consequences. For example, have you ever taken a shopping cart from a store for fun? The removal of a cart from a shopping area can land an individual with a fine of up to $500 for each cart stolen. 


Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers, employee theft, workplace theftStealing supplies from work may seem to some people like a perk of the job—even an action that no one will notice. However, this type of employee theft can be considered a crime. Taking money from your workplace is embezzlement. Workplace theft is a common problem for employers and retailers, and many have systems in place to detect it.

Whether it’s pens, paper, electronic devices, DVDs, thumb drives, petty cash or merchandise, taking home assets you do not own and haven’t pay for from your place of employment could result in your being terminated from employment and subjected to criminal charges, fines, possibly jail time, and civil restitution claims for treble and punitive damages.

Reasons Why Employees Steal from the Workplace

Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, criminal lawAt first glance, the term larceny (theft) might seem pretty straightforward. However, under Wisconsin state law, there are a number of actions that could constitute charges of theft. It is important to understand these statutes, and their definitions, when facing such charges. You may also find it beneficial to know what the consequences may be, should you be convicted. Definition of Theft under Wisconsin State Law In the state of Wisconsin, theft or larceny can be defined as any act that includes:
  • Intentionally taking the movable property of another person without their consent with the intent of permanently depriving them of that property;
  • Converting the use of property from one person to another without the owner’s consent, including (but not limited to) doing so because of a person’s office or position;
  • Intentionally taking property from someone with the right to own it without consent;
  • Obtaining the title to another person’s property through deception or false representation with the intent to defraud;
  • And intentionally failing to return personal property obtained through a lease or rental agreement.
Larceny Penalties in Wisconsin Like most states, Wisconsin classifies theft offenses based on the value of property and/or according to the type of property involved. This means that larceny charges may classify as a citation, a misdemeanor or a felony. Consequences could include forfeitures/fines, imprisonment, or both. If convicted, a defendant may also be faced with an order of restitution and fines relating to expenses or losses incurred by the store owner. Juvenile Larceny Charges Even if the person convicted of theft is a minor, with no income of their own, parents or guardians may be held civilly liable for damages or losses incurred, including the retail cost of merchandise or property, damages or a civil penalty that can be up to two times the total retail value of the merchandise, and any costs incurred by the shop owner in their pursuit of civil action. Repeat Theft Charges in Wisconsin While Wisconsin state law does not specifically cover repeat larceny offenses, the state is authorized to seek harsher consequences if a defendant has prior criminal convictions on their record. Furthermore, a prior record is often weighed heavily in the courtroom, potentially increasing a risk of conviction and the subsequent consequences. Do Not Face Criminal Charges Alone

Whether you already have a record or are facing your very first charge, it is important to seek skilled and professional help. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, we take your situation seriously. Through effective communication, resourceful defense tactics, and sheer determination, we will ensure your rights are protected and work toward the very best possible outcome for your particular situation. Ask how our dedicated Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys may be able to help you by scheduling a consultation. Call 414-271-1440 today.



Wisconsin Shoplifting Charges Vary Widely

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Wisconsin defense attorney, Wisconsin criminal lawyer, Wisconsin criminal statutesShoplifting is a common theft crime to be charged with, and in Wisconsin the penalties can range from non-criminal tickets to felony charges, depending on the value of what was taken. It is important to not only be familiar with the laws governing theft in Wisconsin, but also the laws specifically related to shoplifting. The law in this area is varied, and if you have been arrested for shoplifting, you need experienced legal help to guide you through the many regulations.

Wisconsin Laws Governing Theft

There are a number of circumstances in which you may be charged by the prosecutor with theft. For example, intentionally taking the property of another without their consent and with the intent to deprive the owner permanently of possession of the property is one form of theft. Using fraud or deceit to obtain the title to property of another person is also theft under Wisconsin law, as is using or otherwise retaining possession of money through your employment or business without consent. Even intentionally failing to return personal property erroneously left on your premises can be theft. Shoplifting, also called retail theft, falls under the first category.

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