Question: What are the penalties associated with a fraud conviction in Wisconsin? Possible defenses?

Answer: Sure. Fraud convictions can range from a fairly low-level misdemeanor up to a fairly high-level felony, depending on the type of fraud that is alleged. There are many different activities that can fall into what one could consider fraud. There’s some very specific statutes that prohibit fraud on hotel, fraud on a restaurant or taxi cab, but those are generally considered to be misdemeanors as long as the amount of money that is, you know, being alleged, is less than $2,500. So the $2,500 limit, generally anything under that is going to be considered a misdemeanor level and have lesser penalties. However, if there’s some fraudulent use of someone’s identity or identification, that is a felony even if there is no monetary loss actually alleged. As long as someone was trying to obtain money or trying to obtain some other advantage by using someone’s identity, that is a felony at a higher level. And there are some other provisions like that.

So, as far as possible defenses, that can range pretty significantly depending on what is being alleged. But, basically you’re going to be saying either something like it’s not a fraud because it was just a mistake of some kind—you were actually, legitimately trying to pay the bill, or legitimately trying to provide information, or something like that. But your intent was not to deprive a person of either money that they are owed or some other, something like that. So, sometimes a defense is that it was not you, it was actually someone else who engaged in that behavior, things like that.

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