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What Are Wisconsin’s Retail Theft Laws and Their Penalties?

Posted on in Criminal Law

Brookfield theft defense attorney

Shoplifting is not an uncommon crime in Wisconsin, even though the penalties for shoplifting charges can be severe in some situations. There are many different actions that could be considered shoplifting or retail theft under Wisconsin law. These could range from taking a shirt without paying for it to switching the price tags on an item. Depending on the value of the items that were taken, an alleged offender could face anywhere from a misdemeanor charge to a felony charge. Retail theft laws can be complicated, which is why an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help build a solid defense against such charges.

Types of Shoplifting

Shoplifting, which is also known as retail theft, consists of more than just stealing an item from the store. According to Wisconsin’s criminal statutes, a person is guilty of retail theft when he or she intends to permanently deprive the retailer of the value of the merchandise or product. This crime can also include the following actions:

  • Alters the price tag or label attached to the item

  • Takes and carries away merchandise from the retailer

  • Transfers merchandise

  • Conceals merchandise

  • Retains possession of merchandise

  • Removes a theft detection device from an item

  • Uses or possesses a theft-detection shielding device or removal device

Penalties For Shoplifting

In Wisconsin, the severity of retail theft charges depends on the value of the merchandise that was taken. For example, retail theft of merchandise that does not exceed $2,500 in value is usually a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in up to nine months in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. However, that charge can be elevated to a Class I felony if the perpetrator conspires or combines with another party to sell the stolen property on the Internet. 

If the value of the stolen merchandise is more than $2,500, then a person may be charged with a felony ranging from a Class I to a Class G felony. This could result in 3.5 to 10 years in prison and $10,000 to $25,000 in fines. Shoplifting merchandise valued between $5,000 and $10,000 is classified as a Class H felony, resulting in up to six years in prison if convicted and the same fines as a Class G felony. If the value of the stolen goods exceeds $10,000, it can be charged as a Class G felony, which carries up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

Contact a New Berlin Criminal Defense Attorney 

If you have been accused of retail theft, there is a very real possibility that you could face a felony charge and go to jail. Once you are convicted of a felony, it will leave a permanent mark on your record. At Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP, we have more than 40 years of combined experience in criminal law and can help you navigate the legal proceedings for your retail theft case. Contact our Muskego retail theft defense lawyers 24/7 by calling 262-232-6699 to discuss your situation.




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