Wisconsin Theft and Burglary Attorneys
If you were arrested or charged with theft, you should immediately contact Hart Powell, S.C. to protect your rights. Theft is a serious crime that comes with severe penalties. If convicted, you could face jail time and expensive fines. Being convicted of theft can also affect your family, job, and reputation. Our legal team has experience representing clients accused of theft and creating a legal strategy to get the charges reduced or dropped.
The Wisconsin criminal defense attorneys of Hart Powell, S.C. know state laws associated with theft crime cases. We can aggressively protect your rights and secure your freedom and future. We’ve been defending clients just like you since 1993 and will use our experience and knowledge to help you prove your innocence or get a fair plea deal. Call us at (414) 271-9595 right now, so we can start preparing your case and help you clear your name.
What Is Theft?
Wisconsin statute § 943.20 defines theft as:
- Intentionally using, carrying away, concealing, retaining, or transferring someone else’s movable property without their consent and intending to deprive them of possession of the property.
- Intentionally and without the owner’s consent, taking a pledgee or other person’s property with the intent to deprive them of the property permanently.
- Obtaining possession or custody of a business, employment, or office’s money or paper, negotiable security, instrument, or another negotiable writing and intentionally concealing, using, retaining, or transferring the property without the owner’s consent.
- Intentionally failing to return someone’s personal property under a written rental agreement or written lease after it expires.
- Intentionally deceiving another person to obtain the title to their property with the intent to defraud that person.
Theft can involve a range of offenses, such as:
- Auto theft – Intentionally taking, using, hiding, or transferring another party’s motor vehicle without their consent with the intent to permanently deprive them of their vehicle.
- Shoplifting – Intentionally altering the price tag, taking and carrying it away, transferring, concealing, or retaining merchandise, or intentionally removing a theft detection device to use or possess the merchandise.
- Armed robbery – Using force or threats or threatening the use of force to take another person’s property.
- Burglary – Entering a residential or commercial building without the owner’s permission with the intent to commit theft or a felony offense.
- Embezzlement – Theft of property or money by an employee from their employer.
- Identity theft – Intentionally using, attempting to use, or possessing someone’s personal identification document or personal identifying information, including someone who’s deceased, without their consent or authorization, to represent oneself as that person.
- Possession of stolen property – Knowingly purchasing, receiving, possessing, or obtaining a stolen property that you knew or should have known was stolen.
Each comes with its own penalties depending on the severity, the accused’s criminal history, and other factors. Hart Powell, S.C. can determine which category your crime falls under and the penalties you might face. Depending on your case’s circumstances, we could try to enter a plea agreement with the prosecutor or fight for a not guilty verdict in court.
Possible Penalties for Theft In Wisconsin
Wisconsin determines the penalties for theft, burglary, and other crimes based on the stolen property’s type and value. Besides facing jail time and paying a fine, the court could also order you to pay the victim restitution for the losses they suffered due to the theft. Laws for mandatory minimum sentences outline how the judge could enter their judgment; however, they might consider other facts, such as previous similar crimes you committed, if you committed additional offenses with the theft, and if anyone suffered bodily injury or death.
Property with a maximum value of $2,500
- Class A misdemeanor
- Maximum of nine months in prison and no more than a $10,000 fine
Property with a value between $2,500 and $5,000
- Class I felony
- Maximum of three years and six months in prison and no more than a $10,000 fine
Property with a value between $5,000 and $10,000 or property that is a domestic animal, firearm, stolen from an at-risk person, or the result of looting
- Class H felony
- Maximum of six years in prison and no more than a $10,000 fine
Property with a value between $10,000 and $100,000
- Class G felony
- Maximum of ten years in prison and no more than a $25,000 fine
Property with a maximum value of $100,000
- Class F felony
- Maximum of twelve years and six months in prison and no more than a $25,000 fine
Wisconsin statute § 939.62 allows enhanced penalties for habitual offenders with prior convictions. The prison sentence could increase by:
- A maximum of two years for a one-year sentence.
- A maximum of two years for a sentence between one and ten years for prior misdemeanor convictions or a maximum of four years for a prior felony conviction
Shoplifting penalties depend on the value of the merchandise:
- Maximum value of $500 – Class A misdemeanor
- Value between $500 and $5,000 – Class I felony
- Value between $5,000 and $10,000 – Class H felony
- Value over $10,000 – Class G felony
Entering any of these properties to commit theft or felony therein is a Class F felony – Maximum of twelve years and six months in prison and no more than a $25,000 fine.
- A motor home or trailer
- A building
- A ship or enclosed railroad car
- A truck or trailer’s enclosed and locked cargo area
- Any portion or room of a previously mentioned building or a vehicle with the intent to commit theft or a felony
Burglary in any of these circumstances is a Class E felony – Maximum of fifteen years in prison and no more than a $50,000 fine for:
- Burglary at a boat containing sleeping quarters, trailer or motor home, or dwelling where there’s at least one other person present
- Committing burglary while armed or becoming armed
- Committing battery against an occupant of the residential or commercial building
- Trying to open or opening a vault or safe using explosives
Embezzlement penalties also depend on the value of the property.
- Less than $2,500 – Class A misdemeanor
- Between $2,500 and $5,000 – Class I felony
- Between $5,000 and $10,000 – Class H felony
- $10,000 or more – Class G felony
Armed robbery is a Class C felony. The penalties are:
- Maximum of 40 years in prison
- No more than a $100,000 fine
We know it can be frightening when the penalties you’re facing could land you in jail. It’s an overwhelming and stressful experience for anyone to go through. You can count on the Wisconsin theft and burglary attorneys of Hart Powell, S.C. to walk you through the legal process and prepare a defense that reaches a favorable outcome.
Defenses We Might Be Able to Use In Your Case
When you’re up against a prosecutor who wants you convicted of theft or burglary, you need a defense team who has the experience, skillset, and knowledge to build a strong case. We will do whatever it takes to present substantial evidence of your innocence, discount the prosecution’s theories, or negotiate for a fair plea deal.
Some of the defenses we could use against the charges you’re facing include:
- Duress – Another person threatened or forced you to commit the offense. You didn’t want to commit theft or burglary, but you were in fear of your own life and/or your family’s lives.
- Mistake – There are times when people commit certain crimes by accident. For example, you were arrested for shoplifting, but you became distracted and walked out of the store with a necklace you were trying on.
- Violation of your rights – You have rights during an arrest, a search of your home or car, booking, and detainment. If an officer violated any rights like illegally searching your home for stolen property without a warrant, as an example, that evidence would not be admissible in court.
- Intoxication – You might have been drunk at the time of the alleged crime. If we can establish intoxication, we could argue that you had no intent to steal.
- Innocent – The ultimate defense is that you didn’t actually commit the offense. We can find and use evidence, such as an alibi and video surveillance, to prove that you weren’t there while someone was committing the crime.
The defense we use in your case will depend on the specifics of the case. We can call key witnesses to the stand to testify that you didn’t commit the crime or were somewhere else when the theft occurred. We could locate crucial evidence to discount evidence the prosecutor presents during the trial. We can also prepare arguments that put doubt in the juror’s minds and show that the prosecution’s case does not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Fight Your Theft Charges with Hart Powell, S.C.
We’ve been defending Wisconsin clients for over 25 years. We will fight relentlessly to get the results you need so you don’t face unfair penalties or serve a sentence for a crime you didn’t commit. Our Wisconsin theft and burglary attorneys will provide dependable and aggressive legal representation from start to finish of your case.
If you’re facing conviction of theft or another crime in Wisconsin and want to hire someone who will fight for your freedom and future, call Hart Powell, S.C. at (414) 271-9595 for an initial consultation.
Written by Michael Hart & Craig PowellLast Updated : May 2, 2023