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What to Do if You're Charged with Shoplifting


Being charged with shoplifting can be a very stressful and frightening experience. It is important to understand the theft laws in Wisconsin so that you know your rights and options if you are accused of shoplifting. An accusation of shoplifting carries serious consequences, including possible jail time and fines. No matter what situation led up to the charge or how minor it may seem, it is essential to take these charges seriously and seek help from a qualified defense attorney who understands criminal law in Wisconsin. With the right legal advice, you may be able to minimize any potential penalties or have them dropped altogether.

What Is Considered Retail Theft in Wisconsin?

Shoplifting is considered any type of theft from a retail store in Wisconsin and can come with serious consequences if convicted; possible jail time and fines are just some potential penalties associated with this type of offense.

Examples of acts that qualify as retail theft include:

  • Taking or using retail merchandise without the intent to pay for it
  • Altering, transferring, or removing price tags or labels on items with the intent to commit theft
  • Concealing an item on one's person to take possession of it
  • Moving an item from its original place and bringing it within reach to steal it
  • Assisting someone else in shoplifting by carrying goods out of a store for them
  • Using fraudulent methods like returning stolen goods for cash refunds
  • Swapping labels on items with cheaper ones to pay less at checkout
  • Intentionally under-ringing an item during a purchase transaction
  • Possessing tools used for shoplifting (like containers, keys, etc.) that could be used unlawfully
  • Using counterfeit currency as payment

What Are the Penalties for Retail Theft?

The penalties for shoplifting in Wisconsin depend on the amount of goods stolen and an individual's prior criminal record. For first-time offenders, theft valued at $2,500 or less is usually considered a misdemeanor offense. This can come with fines up to $10,000 and/or jail time up to nine months.

If an individual has been convicted of shoplifting before or the items stolen are worth more than $2,500, then it may be classified as a felony offense. If the merchandise stolen is worth more than $2,500 but less than $5,000, you can be charged with a Class I felony and, if convicted, can face up to 3 and a half years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

If the value of the merchandise exceeds $5,000 but is less than $10,000, you may face a Class H felony, which is punishable by up to 6 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. If you are charged with stealing merchandise exceeding $10,000 in value, you can be charged with a Class G felony and can face up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.

You've Been Charged with Shoplifting - Now What?

If you are charged with shoplifting in Wisconsin, the first thing you should do is consult a qualified criminal defense attorney. An experienced lawyer can help you understand the charges against you and advise on your best course of action. With the right legal advice and representation, it may be possible to minimize or eliminate any potential penalties associated with these charges.

Your lawyer can also help guide you through the criminal justice system, as well as provide resources available to those accused of retail theft including community service programs or other types of alternative sentencing options.

It is important to remember that being charged with shoplifting is not a conviction; take your case seriously and seek professional legal counsel to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process. At the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella, we have years of experience helping those accused of shoplifting protect their legal rights and fight for the best possible outcome.

Contact us online or call us at (414) 882-8382 to learn more about your rights and options if you've been charged with shoplifting in Wisconsin. We can help make sure that your case is handled properly and provide the legal representation you need throughout the criminal justice process.