Retail Theft

Retail Theft Crimes

Milwaukee Criminal Defense Lawyer

People often believe the misconception that retail theft, or petty theft as it can be classified, is not a concerning-enough criminal violation to bring the attention of law enforcement. They also wrongly believe that if they are caught and arrested, any subsequent conviction will be lenient and manageable. In Wisconsin, this is absolutely not the case, as petty theft, such as stealing a low-priced item from a retail store, is still considered a class A misdemeanor.

The Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella can help you protect your rights with more than 20 years of legal and trial experience. Our Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer, Mr. Cherella, has personally handled thousands of criminal cases to successful outcomes throughout his extensive career. Call 414.882.8382 today to learn more about him and what he can do for you after you have been accused of retail theft.

Penalties for Misdemeanor Theft

The value of what was stolen in the act of shoplifting will determine just what level of misdemeanor, or felony, you have allegedly committed. It is quite rare, however, to be able to steal something worth more than $2,500 from a retail store, which makes most incidents of retail theft class A misdemeanors. Do not let the term ‘petty theft’ fool you into thinking that the crime will not be taken seriously and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Many prosecutors and courts actually see petty theft cases as “easy victories” and do all they can to get a fast conviction.

If you are convicted of shoplifting, criminal justice penalties can include:

  • Up to $10,000 fine
  • Up to 9 months in prison

On top of being criminally penalized, the court may order to pay civil penalties as well. Civil penalties would be equal to the amount of the stolen item plus any costs the retailer had to make in reaction to the theft, such as the cost of fixing the lock on the backdoor that was broken upon entry as well as the cost of hiring a private security guard to watch it until the fix occurred. Exemplary damages may also be used, which require you to pay three times the amount of the stolen item’s retail value or $500, whichever is lesser.

Responsive Defense is Necessary

When you have been charged with petty theft, you must react quickly to defend your rights. Sitting idly and allowing your court date to draw closer without taking action is tantamount to accepting a conviction outright. Even when there is plenty of evidence stacked against you like closed-circuit television feeds, a better outcome can be secured.

Defenses to consider when faced with shoplifting charges include:

  • Unintentionally took an item
  • Mistaken identity (not you)
  • Believed the item was a free sample

With the right argument, the penalties could be reduced. If you have not been convicted of any crimes in the past, it might even be possible to make the sentence an infraction if the item’s value was not considerable. No matter the direction your defense needs to go, it should begin with the help of Milwaukee Criminal Defense Attorney Christopher J. Cherella.

Schedule a FREE case evaluation with him today.

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