Question: What are the penalties for theft in Wisconsin? Possible defenses?

Answer: The penalties for theft in Wisconsin, this does fall under the category of if it is the lowest level it will be a misdemeanor, so that is, as long as the value of the property or the money is not more than $2,500, then it is a misdemeanor, and that carries a maximum penalty of nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine. If it is between $2,500, over $2,500 but not over $5,000—so between $2,500 and $5,000—that is a Class I felony, which does carry the possibility of imprisonment. Then the next level is the $5,000 to $10,000 range, is considered to be a Class H felony, and then $10,000 or above is a Class G felony. There are some other circumstances, specific issues that the statute does list that can raise or lower the level, depending on the exact circumstances. But generally speaking, the penalties depend on the amount of the money or the law. The defenses, there are quite a few defenses available in theft cases. Very often, there is some dispute about whose property or whose money it actually is, and if it is your money or if you have some claim to it, it may not be a theft at all. There’s also the requirement—in order for it to be a theft, there’s a requirement that you intend to take and keep that property and deprive the owner of it’s use, and if that was not your intent or if you can show that you did not intend to keep the money or the property, then that would not be a theft. And always, if it wasn’t you and it was someone else, potentially, or if there’s some other circumstances, those are all defenses that can be raised.

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