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Types of Theft in Wisconsin

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Wisconsin criminal defense attorney, Wisconsin defense lawyer, criminal definitionThe law has a reputation for being at times needlessly complex and confusing. It is hard to find somewhere where this reputation is more deserved than the law of theft. At its heart, theft is the act of taking something that belongs to someone else, but the law of theft is much more complicated. It draws distinctions between many different things like theft, robbery and burglary.

The issue is that some of these distinctions are very sensible, but others are just historical accidents. Some of the distinctions arise because of the law's concern that certain types of theft are more dangerous to citizens or society. Others are the result of how the law of theft developed, as a result of arcane distinctions between different courts in medieval England. Fortunately, most of this latter type of distinction has been consolidated into the crime of theft under Wisconsin law.


The general crime of theft is the most basic type of theft punishable in Wisconsin. The theft statute covers anyone who “Intentionally takes...property of another without the other's consent and with intent to deprive the owner permanently of possession of such property,” or who does a variety of similar things with the goal of taking possession of the property.

The severity of the theft in Wisconsin is mostly determined by the value of the stolen property. Thefts of less than $2,500 are Class A misdemeanors, but the rating can go as high as a Class G felony for thefts of over $10,000. Certain thefts are also upgraded to Class H felonies regardless of the value involved, such as theft of a domestic animal.


Robbery is another special type of theft under Wisconsin law that is punished especially harshly. A robbery occurs when someone takes property directly from the owner or while in their presence using either force or the threat of force. Robbery is punishable as a Class E felony, meaning that the sentence can be up to 15 years in prison, along with a fine of up to $50,000.


Another crime that is often discussed in relation to theft is burglary. Burglary is not technically a type of theft, but it is closely related. A person commits burglary when they enter a building, vehicle, or similar area without the owner's consent, with the intent to steal something or commit some felony. Burglary is ordinarily punishable as a Class F felony, but it can be upgraded to Class E in certain circumstances, such as if the burglar is armed with a dangerous weapon.

Theft can be a complex crime, and understanding the difference between the types of theft is important. If you have recently been charged with theft, contact a qualified Milwaukee criminal defense attorney today.
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