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When Does Theft Become a Felony Charge in Wisconsin?

 Posted on April 06, 2020 in Criminal Law

Milwaukee theft defense attorney

Some of the most common crimes committed by juveniles and adults alike are theft crimes. These crimes involve the unlawful taking of property, which can become serious rather quickly. In the state of Wisconsin, theft crimes can be charged as either a misdemeanor crime or felony crime, depending on a variety of circumstances. Typically, the more the stolen property is worth, the harsher the consequences. However, there are a few circumstances in which theft is considered a felony, despite the value of the items. If you have been charged with a theft crime, your best bet for a favorable outcome is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. 

What Constitutes Theft in Wisconsin?

While the basic definition of theft is taking something that does not belong to you, there are certain specific situations that Wisconsin law considers to be theft. According to Wisconsin legal statutes, theft occurs when a person:

  • Takes, uses, transfers, conceals, or retains possession of property without the owner’s consent and with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of the property

  • Intentionally uses, transfers, conceals, or retains possession of money, security, instrument, writing, or paper that is available because of his or her employment and intends to use such property for his or her own use

  • Intentionally and without consent takes property in which he or she has a legal interest from a person in possession and intends to deprive him or her of that property

  • Obtains the property of another person by deliberately deceiving the person through false representation

  • Intentionally fails to return the property to its rightful owner 10 days or more after a lease or rental agreement has expired

Penalties for Theft Offenses

Most of the time, theft is charged as a Class A misdemeanor when the stolen property is valued at $2,500 or less. However, in many situations, theft can and will be charged as a felony. The degree of which is dependent on a few factors. For example, felony charges can range from being a Class I to a Class F felony. This means that depending on the value of the stolen property, you could be facing between 3.5 and 12.5 years in prison and between $10,000 and $25,000 in fines.

In some cases, it does not matter what the value of the stolen goods is. For example, if you take property directly from another person or from a corpse, you will be charged with a Class G felony, regardless of what was stolen. In addition, you automatically face a Class H felony if the property:

  • Is a domestic animal

  • Is taken from a building that is unoccupied because of physical disaster, riot, or bombing

  • Is a firearm

  • Is taken from a patient or resident of certain care facilities or from an individual at risk

Contact a Brookfield Criminal Defense Attorney 

Charges of theft are taken seriously in the state of Wisconsin. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could be facing felony charges, which could result in expensive fines or a lengthy prison sentence. At Bucher, Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP, we can help you defend against these types of charges. With a former Brookfield police detective on our team of knowledgeable Waukesha County theft defense lawyers, we know how the prosecution operates, and we will do our best to reduce or dismiss your charges altogether. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 262-232-6699.




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