Have you ever wondered what exactly constitutes a property crime? Many criminal offenses fall under this category, from theft and burglary to arson and vandalism. Understanding these crimes’ legal definitions, penalties, and consequences can be crucial in understanding your rights.
Types of Property Crimes in Wisconsin
Many view property crimes as lesser criminal charges with minimum consequences. Some view them as a joke or prank and something easy to get away with. Wisconsin is actually ranked as one of the lowest states for property crimes, with an estimated 1,500 out of 100,000 people affected. Even so, if found guilty of a property crime, the consequences can range from a misdemeanor to a felony charge.
Arson is the willful, intentional, and malicious destruction of property by fire and is a Class C Felony in Wisconsin. It also includes placing explosives in or near another person’s property. The penalties for arson can be very severe and may incur a prison sentence of up to 40 years and a fine of up to $100,000.
Burglary is the unlawful entry into a structure intending to commit a crime, for example, breaking into a home to steal something. It could also apply to mobile homes, boats, train cars, or other commercial buildings. In Wisconsin, The penalties for burglary depend on several factors. For example, were you armed when you entered the structure? Was anyone home? Did you commit battery? While all of these add to the severity of a Burglary charge, it is always a serious crime. If you are found guilty of burglarizing a home or business, it will likely be a felony.
Theft/Motor Vehicle Theft
Larceny, or theft, is one of the most common property crimes. It involves taking another person’s property without their permission and intending to deprive them of its use permanently. This includes shoplifting, pickpocketing, and embezzlement. The penalties for theft in Wisconsin can range from a misdemeanor to a felony charge.
Motor vehicle theft can be more severe and occurs when the defendant intends to permanently take and use a car without the owner’s consent. State law also says that unless the car is worth less than $2,500, theft of the vehicle is considered a felony.
Shoplifting is a property crime where someone takes merchandise from a store without paying for it. Shoplifting is a crime in all 50 states and can be punishable by fines, jail time, or both. The penalties for shoplifting depend on the value of the merchandise taken and even the offender’s criminal history. It can be either a misdemeanor or a felony in Wisconsin.
Vandalism is defined as intentionally damaging someone else’s property. This can mean anything from spray painting graffiti on a wall to smashing a window. The penalties for vandalism depend on the monetary amount of damages incurred. If it was less than $2,500, it was a misdemeanor, and if it was more, it was a felony.
No matter what property crime you are charged with, there are levels of severity. It is wise to contact an attorney with experience in property crimes to defend your case and answer any questions you may have before facing the prosecution.