If you’re like most people, you’ve heard the term petty theft—but what does it mean, and is it a genuine criminal charge in Waukesha, Milwaukee, and elsewhere in Wisconsin?
What is Petty Theft?
People use the term petty theft to describe the theft of something with very low value. While Wisconsin laws on theft don’t actually say “petty,” (it’s more of a layman’s term), our statutes do describe different levels of theft crimes that carry different penalties.
The state’s definition of theft includes:
- Intentionally taking someone else’s property without their consent
- Taking property from someone who has the right to have it, intentionally and without consent
- Intentionally deceiving a person to take possession of their property with the intent to defraud them
- Intentionally failing to give someone’s personal property back to them due to a lease or rental agreement
Classifications of Theft Under Wisconsin Law
The law in Wisconsin classifies theft based on the value of the property or services that were stolen.
- Class A Misdemeanor Theft: Theft is a Class A misdemeanor if the value of the property or services doesn’t exceed $2,500. In some states, petty theft is considered theft of property of services valued at a few hundred dollars (or less), but Wisconsin doesn’t use the term petty theft. Instead, Class A misdemeanor theft encompasses everything valued at less than $2,500.
- Class I Felony Theft: Theft is a Class I felony if the property is valued between $2,500 and $5,000.
- Class H Felony Theft: Theft is a Class H felony if the property is valued between $5,000 and $10,000.
- Class G Felony Theft: Theft is a Class G felony if the property is valued at more than $10,000.
In addition to the criminal penalties you’ll face for theft, you could be held liable for reimbursing the property’s owner or even civil penalties equal to more than the value of the merchandise. (Typically, this involves shoplifting charges.)
Do You Need to Talk to a Wisconsin “Petty Theft” Lawyer?
If you’ve been accused of any type of theft, it’s probably a good idea to get in touch with a Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer who can help.
Call us at 414-383-6700 for a free consultation. We’ll evaluate the circumstances of your case and begin developing a plan that gets you the best possible outcome.