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Can I Be Charged with Shoplifting After I Leave a Store?

Person shoplifting earrings and putting them in a purse

If someone is accused of shoplifting, you may envision a scene played out on TV or in the movies — a suspect being caught by a store employee or an alarm going off before that person walks out of the store. In reality, that may happen while other times a suspect may be found well after leaving the shop.

In Wisconsin, shoplifting is defined as knowingly taking possession of merchandise from a store without the owner or employee's consent and depriving the owner of the use or benefit of the merchandise. Individuals can be accused of this crime if they are still in the store or have left the premises. Eyewitnesses, not limited to those in the store at the time of the alleged theft, can aid law enforcement in finding a suspect and charging them.

Statute of Limitations

Like many criminal offenses, Wisconsin has a statute of limitations regarding shoplifting. Wisconsin Statue Subchapter III 943.50 focuses on retail theft and theft of services. Because a shoplifting charge can be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony, each has its own statute of limitations. For charges like this, a misdemeanor has a statute of limitations of three years while a felony has a statute of limitations of six years.

Determining Whether Shoplifting is a Misdemeanor or Felony

The monetary value of the item or items shoplifted determines whether a suspect is charged with a misdemeanor or felony. In most cases, if the monetary value of the property shoplifted is less than $100, a suspect will be issued a ticket and have to pay a fine rather than face official charges.

Misdemeanor shoplifting charges are typically issued for property valued between $100 and $2,500. The misdemeanor charge is usually classified as a Class A with a punishment of up to nine months of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.

An individual may be issued felony shoplifting charges if they are accused of taking property valued at more than $2,500. The breakdown of felony shoplifting charges is:

  • Property valued between $2,500-$5,000 (Class I felony) — fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to three years and six months;
  • Property valued between $5,000-$10,000 (Class H felony) — fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to six years; or,
  • Property valued at more than $10,000 (Class G felony) — fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment of up to ten years.

Let Our Wisconsin Criminal Defense Team Help You

No matter the type of shoplifting charge you may be facing, the criminal defense team at The Law Offices of Jason D. Baltz is ready to work your case. Don’t try fighting your allegation alone — reach out to our knowledgeable and dedicated attorney by calling (414) 375-0797 or filling out our online contact form.

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