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Addressing Retail Theft Charges During the Holiday Season

Posted on in Criminal Law

Waukesha Shoplifting Defense LawyerDuring this holiday season, retailers are facing a challenge: the rise of shoplifting. The holidays can bring out both generous shoppers and those with nefarious motives, and retailers have noted that instances of retail theft have been on the rise over the past few years. The National Retail Foundation has reported that in 2021, organized retail crimes increased by 26 percent, resulting in losses of more than $94 billion. Many retailers have been fighting shoplifting rings and other criminal schemes, and because of these ongoing concerns, they are on the lookout for people who may attempt to steal items. This means that those who are accused of retail theft may be detained, arrested, and charged with serious criminal offenses. If you are in this situation, understanding the specific charges that you may face can help you determine your best options for defense.

Definition of Retail Theft in Wisconsin

Retail theft, also known as shoplifting, is generally understood to involve taking items from a retail store without paying for them. However, the criminal offense of retail theft may include other actions that would result in a person paying less than the correct price for an item. For example, a person may switch tags on items in order to purchase an item at a cheaper price, or they may conceal one item inside another item, allowing them to receive both items while only paying for one product. 

Self-checkouts have provided many people with the opportunity to commit retail theft. They may allow a person to scan one item while adding a different item to their bag or otherwise ring items up at the wrong price. Other actions may also be considered to be retail theft, such as removing theft-detection devices from products or using devices that shield sensors from triggering alarms when leaving the store without paying for an item.

Criminal Penalties for Retail Theft in Wisconsin 

Retail theft is a crime that can range from a simple misdemeanor to a felony depending on the circumstances of the offense. In most cases, if the total cost of the merchandise stolen is less than $500, retail theft is considered a Class A misdemeanor and carries a sentence of up to nine months imprisonment and/or fines up to $10,000. If the cost of merchandise stolen exceeds $500 but does not exceed $5,000, then it is considered a Class I felony, which is punishable by up to three years and six months imprisonment and/or fines up to $10,000. For retail thefts exceeding $5,000 but not exceeding $10,000 in value, an offense is considered a Class H felony, which is punishable by six years imprisonment and/or fines up to $10,000. Finally, if the total value of merchandise stolen exceeds $10,000, retail theft is considered a Class G felony punishable by 10 years imprisonment and/or fines up to $25,000. 

In addition to criminal penalties for shoplifting or retail theft in Wisconsin, there may also be civil penalties imposed as well. Civil liabilities can include actual losses incurred by the store owner, as well as punitive damages that are meant to serve as punishment and a deterrent against future criminal activity.

Contact Our Waukesha County Retail Theft Defense Attorneys

When facing charges related to shoplifting or retail theft in Wisconsin, it is important to understand the criminal penalties and civil liabilities that might result from such an offense. It is also important to seek proper legal counsel from an experienced attorney who can help guide you through the legal process and ensure that your rights are protected at every step along the way. At Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP, our Milwaukee retail theft lawyers can provide you with the defense you need in these situations. Call us at 262-232-6699 to schedule a free consultation today.



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