Now that the holidays are here, millions of Americans are going to the malls and stores to purchase gifts for their loved ones. Unfortunately, many cannot afford to purchase gifts and the expectations and pressures surrounding the season may cause them to do something irrational—such as shoplifting. From Black Friday until Christmas Eve, incidents involving shoplifters significantly increase.
In Wisconsin, shoplifting is considered retail theft, which occurs when an individual intentionally deprives a merchant of possessing merchandise or uses tools to remove anti-theft devices. Merchants are legally permitted to detain a shoplifting suspect until law enforcement or the parents (if the suspect is a minor child) to show up.
Penalties for shoplifting depend on the value of the stolen merchandise. If the stolen merchandise is worth less than $100, you will be issued a ticket in order to pay a fine. If the stolen merchandise is worth between $100 and $2,500, it is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum nine-month jail sentence and a fine no more than $5,000. If the stolen merchandise is worth more than $2,500 and up to $5,000, it is a Class I felony, punishable by a prison sentence of up to three and a half years and a maximum fine of $10,000. More than $5,000 and up to $10,000 is a Class H felony, which results in a maximum six-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $10,000. Anything over $10,000 is a Class G felony, punishable by a prison term of up to ten years and a maximum fine of $25,000.
In addition to these criminal penalties, you may be subject to a civil lawsuit by a merchant for the stolen merchandise (unless it is returned undamaged), damages you caused, exemplary damages, and costs of action such as the merchant’s court costs and attorney fees.
If you have been arrested for shoplifting in Wisconsin, our Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella can protect your rights and future. We can review your case, determine all your legal options, and help you either get your case dismissed or avoid jail time.
Contact us and schedule a free consultation for more information today.