How Does Wisconsin Law Define “Theft”, “Burglary” and “Robbery”?

Theft might seem pretty straightforward. If you are accused of taking or possessing property that belongs to somebody else, that is stealing. However, Wisconsin law makes some solid distinctions between different types of stealing. Understanding the difference is important. Which charge is issued impacts your sentence, and determines what defense strategies will prove most effective.  

Distinguishing Between Theft, Burglary and Robbery

The Wisconsin Statutes define these offenses as follows:

  1. Theft. Theft occurs if someone “Intentionally takes and carries away, uses, transfers, conceals, or retains possession of movable property of another without the other’s consent and with intent to deprive the owner permanently of possession of such property.”
  2. Burglary. Burglary occurs if someone “intentionally enters” a place “without the consent of the person in lawful possession and with intent to steal or commit a felony”. 
  3. Robbery. Robbery occurs when someone has the “intent to steal” and “takes property from the person or presence of the owner by either…using force” or “threatening the imminent use of force”. 

In basic terms, all theft is theft, but burglary and robbery are specific subsets of theft. 

Theft in More Detail

Theft includes a variety of other offenses, which may carry different penalties depending on the value of the property involved. Aside from robbery and burglary, theft includes:

  • Auto theft
  • Shoplifting
  • Embezzlement
  • Possession of stolen property
  • Identity theft

The penalties for theft vary according to the severity of the case. For example, if you steal property with a value of no more than $2,500, it is considered a Class A misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is nine months in prison and a $10,000 fine. However, if the property is worth more than $2,500 and other aggravating factors are present, then penalties will be heightened. 

For aggressive defense throughout your theft case, contact our firm. Involving the aid of an experienced criminal defense attorney will maximize the chances of obtaining the case outcome you deserve. With so much on the line, there is no room to take a chance on ineffective legal counsel. Contact Sparr, Belville & Brown LLC to find out what we can do to help you.