Retail theft is the kind of charge that might sound relatively harmless. Unfortunately, it isn’t, and if you’re accused of shoplifting from a business, you’ll face a quickly escalating penalty scheme. Retail theft starts as a Class A misdemeanor for offenses involving less than $500.00. In situations involving over $10,000.00, the charge is a Class G felony, carrying the potential for 10 years in prison. The penalties escalate in a few other ways we’ll discuss later.
At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., you’ll meet a few of Wisconsin’s best criminal defense attorneys. We focus 100% of our representation on helping individuals in positions just like yours. A significant portion of that representation focuses on property crimes, such as retail theft.
Finally, we offer free consultations to potential clients. During that consultation, you’ll have the opportunity to sit down with one of our criminal defense lawyers to discuss your case. Questions about possible defenses? We can talk about that. Simply concerned about what the results of your case might be? We can also talk about that. The hour is yours. Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 to schedule your consultation.
Section 943.50 of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits retail theft. Subsection (1m) lists all the circumstances where an individual could be charged with retail theft. The following list of actions must be done without the merchant’s consent and intent to deprive the merchant permanently of possession, or the full price, of the property:
(a) Intentionally alters indicia of price or value of merchandise held for resale by a merchant or property of a merchant.
(b) Intentionally takes and carries away merchandise held for resale by a merchant or property of a merchant.
(c) Intentionally transfers merchandise held for resale by a merchant or property of a merchant.
(d) Intentionally conceals merchandise held for resale by a merchant or property of a merchant.
(e) Intentionally retains possession of merchandise held for resale by a merchant or property of a merchant.
(f) While anywhere in the merchant’s store, intentionally removes a theft detection device from merchandise held for resale by a merchant or property of a merchant.
(g) Uses, or possesses with intent to use, a theft detection shielding device to shield merchandise held for resale by a merchant or property of merchant from being detected by an electronic or magnetic theft alarm sensor.
(h) Uses, or possesses with intent to use, a theft detection device remover to remove a theft detection device from merchandise held for resale by a merchant or property of a merchant.
There are two different ways the penalties involved in this offense escalate. One involves the value of the property involved:
The second way the penalty moves from a misdemeanor to a felony:
The second escalation only applies to cases involving less than $500.00, but the reason is simple: those charges would have otherwise been misdemeanors. Cases involving more than $500.00 are already felonies.
Jury instructions break down offenses into parts (also called elements) that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. If the government cannot prove each of the elements of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt, you cannot be convicted.
Because of the fact that retail theft occurs eight different ways, we’re discussing “traditional retail theft – where the defendant simply takes and carries away a piece of property. Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instruction 1498 provides the elements of this offense:
If your case proceeds to trial, it’s these instructions that the judge reads for the jury. That’s why during your consultation we’ll focus on these elements when beginning to craft your defense.
Again, our law firm focuses 100% of its resources on defending individuals accused of committing crimes. We don’t handle civil areas of law because that does not help individuals in positions such as yours. Understanding divorce laws won’t help defend your retail theft case, will it? Exactly.
And not only do we focus on criminal law, we’re good at it. All of our criminal defense lawyers are consistently recognized with various “best lawyer” awards.
Contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202 immediately to schedule a free consultation.