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Theft of services is a crime in Wisconsin.

Theft of services is basically as it sounds: the defendant steals services of the victim.  This crime, like other theft crimes, has penalties based on the financial value of the service.  These cases are typically committed by individuals without significant criminal records.  And the reason for this is simple: sometimes the defendant doesn’t realize his actions are criminal.  Certainly sometimes he believes that upon being wronged, he shouldn’t pay for the services.  Finally, police and prosecutors don’t pursue this charge very frequently.

The criminal defense attorneys at Meyer Van Severen, S.C. defend theft of services cases.  We defend all criminal and drunk driving offenses throughout Wisconsin.  If you face any criminal charge, certainly contact us.  We answer calls 24/7 at (414) 270-0202.

What is theft of services?

Section 943.50(1r) of the Wisconsin Statutes prohibits theft of services.  The law provides:

Any person may be penalized [in this section] if, having obtained a service from a service provider, he or she, without the service provider’s consent and with intent to deprive the service provider permanently of the full price of the service, absconds and intentionally fails or refuses to pay for the service.

Most crimes have elements (or parts) of the crime that need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  A set of jury instructions provides the elements of the offense.  Unfortunately, the jury instructions (and therefore elements) of this crime don’t exist.

Using the elements of retail theft (prohibited by section 943.50(1m)(a)-(e) provides some insight though.  Retail theft requires the government satisfy six elements before conviction.  Wisconsin Jury Instruction Criminal 1498 provides:

  1. The defendant intentionally altered the indicated price or value of, took and carried away, transferred, concealed, or retained possession of property;
  2. The merchant held the property for resale;
  3. The defendant knew that merchant held the property for resale;
  4. The merchant did not consent to altering the indicated price or value of, taking and carrying away, transferring, concealing, or retaining possession of the property;
  5. The defendant knew that the merchant did not consent; and
  6. The defendant intended to deprive the merchant permanently of possession or any portion of the purchase price of the merchandise.
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Common examples of theft of services

Frequently defendants aren’t aware their action is a form of theft.  Surely, sometimes the inability to pay for a service forces the defendant into criminal liability.  There are a few common examples of theft of services relevant to these examples:

  • Neglecting to pay for medical treatment.  Unfortunately, due to the high cost of medical treatment, failure to pay for medical treatment could result in felony theft of services charges.
  • Riding a bus, train, taxi, Hop, or any other transportation provider.  Because this offense doesn’t result in more than $500.00 in damages, it’s a misdemeanor.
  • Using utility, cable, or internet services without paying.
  • Failure to pay for plumbing, landscaping, carpentry work, or construction services.
A man prepares to conduct theft of services.
Theft of services is a crime in Wisconsin.

What are the penalties for this offense?

Section 943.50(4) provides the penalties for this theft charge:

  • Firstly, if the services are under $500.00: Class A misdemeanor.
  • Secondly, if the services cost between $500.00 and $5,000.00: Class I felony.
  • Thirdly, if the services cost between $5,000.00 and $10,000.00: Class H felony.
  • Finally, if the services cost over $10,000.00: Class G felony.

Contact us for criminal defense representation today

Finally, the criminal defense attorneys at Meyer Van Severen, S.C. specialize in providing top-notch criminal defense representation.  Certainly we’ve dealt with theft charges.  By all means, we can assist with defending a theft of services charge.  If you’re charged with this, or any other criminal offense, contact one of the criminal defense attorneys at Meyer Van Severen, S.C.  We answer phone calls 24/7 and can begin fighting your case today.  Call us at (414) 270-0202.