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Is There a Difference Between Shoplifting and Theft?

Person stealing medicine from a pharmacy

There are multiple reasons why someone may take something that does not belong to them. The action could have been an accident or there was another motivation behind the swiping. Either way, if someone is caught committing this act, they could face criminal charges. In particular, someone may be charged with shoplifting or theft.

Defining Shoplifting and Theft in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, shoplifting and theft are two separate crimes. Shoplifting is a crime where someone takes goods from a store without paying for them, while theft is when someone takes property that belongs to someone else and intends to keep that property for themselves. Examples of theft can include:

  • Taking someone's car without their permission;
  • Breaking into a business or home and stealing property; and,
  • Stealing a purse or wallet.

Both shoplifting and theft are punishable by law, but there are some key differences between the two offenses.

First, shoplifting is typically considered a less serious offense than theft. This is because shoplifting is usually only punishable by a fine or short jail sentence, while theft can result in felony charges and lengthy prison time. Additionally, you may be required to pay restitution to the victim.

Second, shoplifting generally requires no force or violence, while theft often does. If a theft suspect is accused of using a weapon or severe intimidation, that person could be charged with aggravated theft.

Another key difference between shoplifting and theft is the value of the property involved. Shoplifting typically involves taking merchandise worth less than $500, while theft can involve property valued at any amount.

Shoplifting and Theft Criminal Defense Attorney in Milwaukee

If you were charged with shoplifting or theft in Wisconsin, it is important to understand the potential consequences of each offense. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights.

The dedicated team at The Law Offices of Jason D. Baltz is ready to assist you in your situation. Read what past clients have said about our work and contact us today for a free consultation.

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