Section 943.20 of the Wisconsin Statutes explains what theft is. Interpreting the statute can be difficult without the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. At criminal defense law firm Meyer Van Severen, S.C. one of our skilled criminal lawyers is available to help you sift through the difficult legal system. Our skilled defense lawyers work on theft cases all the time and may be able to help defend yours.
The value of the property involved, along with certain circumstances, help to classify whether the crime is a misdemeanor or felony. Misdemeanor theft convictions are serious. In additional to a potential jail term and a fine, collateral consequences such as loss of employment could result. These problems are compounded when the charge is a felony. Felonies, by definition, carry prison penalties.
Theft is a Class H felony if the property is a domestic animal, if the property is taken from a building which has been destroyed/left unoccupied because of physical disaster, riot, bombing, or proximity to battle, if the property is taken after physical disaster, riot, bombing, or proximity of battle has necessitated its removal from a building, the property is a firearm, or the property is taken from a patient/resident of a facility or program in certain treatment programs/hospitals/clinics.
Theft is a Class G felony if it is taken from the person of another, or from a corpse.
Theft is a Class A misdemeanor if the value is less than $2,500.00. If the value of the property exceeds $2,500.00 but does not exceed $5,000.00, the crime is a Class I felony. If the value of the property is between $5,000.00 and $10,000.00, the crime is a Class H felony. If the value of the property is over $10,000.00, the theft is a Class G felony.
Theft itself can be proven five ways:
1) The defendant intentionally took, carried, aware, transferred, concealed, or retained possession of movable property of another without the other’s consent and with intent to deprive the owner permanently of possession of such property.
2) By virtue of his or her office, business, or employment, or as trustee or bailee, having possession or custody of money or of a negotiable security, instrument, paper, or other negotiable writing of another, intentionally used, transferred, concealed, or retained possession of the money/security/instrument/paper/writing without the owner’s consent, contrary to his authority, and with intent to convert to his or her own use or to the use of another person.
3) Having a legal interest in movable property, the defendant intentionally and without consent, took property out of the possession of a pledgee or other person having a superior right of possession, with intent to deprive the pledgee or other person permanently of the possession of such property.
4) The defendant obtained title to property of another person by intentionally deceiving the person with a false representation which is known to be false, made with intent to defraud, and which does defraud to the person to whom it is made. A false representation includes a promise made with intent not to perform it if it is a part of a false and fraudulent scheme.
5) The defendant intentionally failed to return any personal property which is in his or her possession or under his or her control by virtue of a written lease or written rental agreement after the lease or rental agreement has expired. This does not apply to a person who returns personal property, except a motor vehicle, which is in his or her possession or under his or her control by virtue of a written lease or rental agreement, within 10 days after the lease or rental agreement expires.
Theft is a very broad statute that covers a lot of different actions. Theft very quickly becomes a felony and a conviction will carry consequences for the rest of your life. Having a skilled Milwaukee criminal defense attorney on your side can help improve the situation. Hiring a criminal lawyer who is not afraid to proceed to jury trial and fight for your rights is important. Contact criminal attorney Matthew R. Meyer or Benjamin T. Van Severen for a consultation to discuss your theft case today. (414) 270-0202