Any type of property crime charges in Wisconsin are a serious matter. There is always the possibility of jail time. For certain convictions, you will be sentenced to prison time. There are defenses that are available to you if you believe that you can fight the charges against you. The first thing that you need to do is contact an attorney to learn about the possible consequences of a conviction and the legal options that may be available to you. Always take any criminal charge seriously and never reach any conclusions of your own.
Property Crimes Charges in Wisconsin
Any type of property crime charge in Wisconsin is serious. The severity of the individual offense depends on:
- The dollar value of the property at issue
- The manner in which you are alleged to have taken the property
Here are some potential property crime charges in Wisconsin:
- Theft – theft is when someone takes the property of another, whether it is money or movable property. A person can take the property, or they can fraudulently obtain it through a misrepresentation. The severity of the charge depends on the value of the money or property that has been taken. Theft charges under $2,500 are a misdemeanor. Theft charges over that amount rise to a felony. The severity of the felony escalates the greater the value of property involved.
- Shoplifting – retail theft is its own separately charged crime in Wisconsin that involves taking and carrying away the property of a merchant or other means of coming to possess their property. The crime is a misdemeanor when it involves property with a value of $2,500 or less. Above that amount, it rises to a felony that could carry a penalty of up to ten years in prison.
- Robbery – robbery involves the taking of property through force or the threat of force. Robbery is a Class E felony, no matter the value of the property taken.
- Burglary – a person commits burglary when they enter a property with the intent to commit a felony. They do not actually even need to take property. Burglary is a felony. The offense level rises when there are certain aggravating factors, such as being armed with a dangerous device when committing burglary. The crime can be punished with up to 15 years in state prison.
- Receiving stolen property – this crime is punished every bit as severely as the actual theft of the property with the same financial thresholds and penalties
In addition to taking property, you could also be charged with crimes against property that could include arson and vandalism.
The Consequences of a Property Crimes Conviction
Even if it seems like a property crime is a minor charge, nothing is ever as simple as you think. First, a property crime is seen as a charge of dishonesty. Even though Wisconsin employers are not allowed to discriminate against those with criminal convictions, crimes of dishonesty may be viewed as relevant to many different professions. In fact, they could completely disqualify you from certain jobs if they show up on a background check.
In addition, a criminal conviction could also have an impact on your:
- Ability to hold certain professional licenses
- Custody case
- Status in the United States if you are undocumented or a permanent legal resident
- Ability to obtain citizenship in the United States
- Right to own a firearm (if you are convicted of a felony)
- Right to vote (if you were convicted of a felony and have not yet completed the terms of your sentence)
Most of all, a conviction would permanently damage your reputation. Your criminal defense attorney would review the facts of your case and your own situation before they gave you any legal advice about how to deal with the charges against you.
Defenses to Property Crimes Charges
Pleading guilty to property charges is by no means a foregone conclusion. Remember that it is the prosecutor who has the burden of proof for each of the elements of the alleged crime. They have to prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt.
Property crimes all require specific intent. In other words, it is not possible to commit a property crime by accident. Many of the defenses revolve around the fact that you may not have intended to commit a crime. Here are some defenses to property crime charges:
- You legitimately believed that the property was yours
- You borrowed the property with the intent to return it
- You did not intend to actually take the property
You could argue that you committed the property crime out of necessity because you believed that you were in imminent danger if you did not take the property. Alternatively, you could argue that you were coerced into taking the property by someone else. In some cases, law enforcement may run a sting operation where they may have committed coercion or entrapment.
Then, you could use more standard legal defenses that can be relied on in any criminal case, including:
- Any evidence being used against you was illegally seized without a search warrant or through a warrant that was not based on probable cause
- Law enforcement wrongfully tried to question you without an attorney present
- Law enforcement otherwise violated your rights during the criminal process
An attorney would review your case before giving you any advice on how to deal with the charges against you. They would look for any possible defenses that could be used to fight the charges against you.
Contact an Appleton Property Crimes Defense Attorney Today
If you have been charged with any crime, the attorneys at Hogan Eickhoff will vigorously defend you in any criminal proceedings. We get involved in your case early so you can learn your legal options and set the stage for a possible defense. The important thing is that you contact an attorney early in your case so that your rights are protected. We can speak to you right now during a free initial consultation. Call us today at (920) 450-9800 or contact us online to speak to a lawyer today.