Receiving stolen property in Wisconsin is potentially a felony.  Contact Van Severen Law Office, S.C. immediately at (414) 270-0202 for help

Receiving stolen property charges in Wisconsin become more serious as the value involved increases.  The charge starts as a Class A misdemeanor (for offenses involving less than $2,500.00) and escalates to a Class G felony for offenses involving over $10,000.00.  This penalty scheme is the same as you’ll find in actual theft charges.

Receiving stolen property charges differ from other theft charges in that this offense doesn’t focus on the active taking possession of the property.  Instead, receiving stolen property seeks to punish the individual who takes possession of property they know is stolen.  Because of the same penalty scheme involved, it’s clear that lawmakers sought to punish individuals involved in any way with a theft.

At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., our criminal defense attorneys have a significant amount of experience defending all kinds of property crimes.  We’ve also defended thousands of individuals facing both misdemeanor and felony charges throughout the state.  No matter how serious your case is, we can help.  Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 for a free consultation.

What is receiving stolen property?  Section 943.34 of the Wisconsin Statutes:

The Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations define all crimes in Wisconsin.  Specifically, section 943.34 of the Wisconsin Statutes defines receiving stolen property.  That law indicates:

(1)  Except as provided under s. 948.62, whoever knowingly or intentionally receives or conceals stolen property is guilty of:
(a) A Class A misdemeanor, if the value of the property does not exceed $2,500.
(bf) A Class I felony, if the value of the property exceeds $2,500 but does not exceed $5,000.
(bm) A Class H felony, if the property is a firearm or if the value of the property exceeds $5,000 but does not exceed $10,000.
(c) A Class G felony, if the value of the property exceeds $10,000.
(2) In any action or proceeding for a violation of sub. (1), a party may use duly identified and authenticated photographs of property which was the subject of the violation in lieu of producing the property.
The law is relatively straightforward, reciting the requirements of the crime and the penalties involved.
Subsection (2) brings up an important issue.  Prosecutors can use a picture of the stolen property, rather than the actual property, to prosecute you.  While this makes the prosecutor’s job a little easier, it doesn’t really change things for you.  In fact, one could argue that a case involving only a picture makes the prosecution’s job harder.  Firstly, they didn’t find the property on you (or they’d be using it in the prosecution).  And secondly, the government still needs to prove you “received” or “concealed” the property – simply taking a picture of an item, on its own, proves neither of those requirements.

Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1481

Jury instructions typically accompany substantive criminal laws in Wisconsin.  Jury instructions help jurors (and judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and civilians) better understand the law.  Rather than simply asking jurors whether the defendant committed a crime, jury instructions break those offenses down into parts.  The government must prove each of those parts beyond a reasonable doubt.  If they cannot do that, the defendant is not guilty.  Here are the parts (also called elements) of receiving stolen property:

  • Firstly, the defendant knowingly or intentionally received or concealed the property.
    • Intentionally requires that the defendant had the mental purpose to receive or conceal the property.
    • Knowingly requires that the defendant believed he received or concealed the property.
    • Receive means to acquire possession or control over the property.
    • To conceal means to hide the property or do something else which prevents or makes its discovery more difficult.
  • Secondly, the property involved was stolen property.
  • And finally, when the property was received or concealed, the defendant knew it was stolen property.

Hopefully it becomes even more clear how prosecuting this charge with only a picture becomes difficult.  A picture does nothing to prove the defendant received or concealed anything.  A picture can be taken in passing and involve nothing more harmful than passive interest.

When is the crime a felony?  A misdemeanor?

  • If the property value is under $2,500.00 it’s a Class A misdemeanor.
  • If the property is worth $2,500.00 – $5,000.00 it’s a Class I felony.
  • If the property involved is worth $5,000.00 – $10,000.00 the crime is a Class H felony.
  • If the property is worth more than $10,000.00, the crime is a Class G felony.

How could a criminal defense attorney win my case?

Firstly, it’s important to remember that all cases are different.  Our criminal defense lawyers all offer free consultations to potential clients.  We certainly encourage you to reach out and speak with one of our staff if you’re facing any kind of criminal prosecution.  During that free consultation we can talk specifically about your case and potential strategy.

Secondly, all cases do have a few things in common.  One of those things is the defendant’s right to a jury trial.  If you’re innocent, if you’re not guilty, if you don’t think the government can prove it’s case, even if you just feel like going to trial – that’s your right.  At trial, if we can provide a reasonable doubt that the jury buys, you won’t be convicted of the offense you’re facing trial for.  Every case is different, and certain cases are stronger at trial.  Again, it’s important to speak with one of our criminal defense lawyers about the exact strategy in your case.

Filing pre-trial motions is another important strategy to use while defending criminal cases.  Some pre-trial motions make the government’s case against you weaker.  Others have the potential to earn a complete dismissal of the charges against you.  Which motions (if any) are appropriate in your case is another strategy decision that our criminal defense attorneys are always happy to speak with their clients about.

Contact Van Severen Law Office regarding your receiving stolen property case.

Van Severen Law Office, S.C. dedicates 100% of its resources to defending individuals accused of committing crimes.  Frequently those criminal cases are property crimes, such as receiving stolen property.  Our constant dedication to criminal law allows us to stay on top of the issues involved in cases.  And that translates into better results for clients.

Contact us at (414) 270-0202.  As we previously mentioned, we offer free consultations for potential clients.

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