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What Are the Potential Charges for Retail Theft in Wisconsin?

Posted on in Theft


Milwaukee theft charges defense attorneyBy Attorney Brianna Meyer

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. 

What about books that were not returned to the library? While this will result in late fees, a person could also face criminal charges. If the value of stolen library materials is less than $2,500, the charge is a Class A misdemeanor. If the value exceeds $2,500, the charge becomes a Class H felony.

What Are the Criminal Consequences of Shoplifting? 

For typical retail theft charges, such as shoplifting, the consequences are dependent upon the value of the items stolen. If the merchandise does not exceed $500, the alleged offender may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in up to $10,000 in charges and/or up to nine months of imprisonment. For goods stolen that cost between $500 and $5,000, a person may be charged with a Class I felony. This can lead to up to $10,000 in fines and/or up to three and a half years in prison. If the merchandise ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 in price, the charge becomes a Class H felony, and an individual may face up to $10,000 in fines and/or up to six years in prison. Theft of anything over $10,000 is charged as a Class G felony, which can lead to up to $25,000 in fines and up to 10 years in prison.

A Milwaukee Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

As you can tell, theft charges are not taken lightly in Wisconsin. Due to the hefty fines and potential prison time, it is crucial that you seek out professional legal help if you are looking at theft charges. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown LLP, our attorneys are well-versed in all areas of criminal defense, including theft. If you are looking at charges for shoplifting or retail theft in Wisconsin, contact our Milwaukee, WI criminal defense attorneys at 414-271-1440 for legal assistance.

Sources:

 https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/943/III/50

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/939/IV/51

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