Theft is the action of taking property, money or possessions from another person without their consent. While this term covers a broad spectrum of circumstances, there are more specific classifications that have their own punishments ascribed to them based on situational criteria within the Wisconsin law: fraud, larceny and embezzlement.
These three terms -- while they all represent unlawful, unauthorized taking of another's property -- are subsets of theft that carry punishments based on degrees of severity. If theft is ice cream, then fraud, larceny and embezzlement are the flavors. Here, we'll go over the differences between each flavor and highlight some defining characteristics within Wisconsin statutes.
Fraud is, by definition, "intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right." So, essentially, it's tricking somebody into giving up their property by misrepresenting facts -- theft with the stipulation that intentional deception was at play. There are various types of fraud that can be prosecuted in the state of Wisconsin. Here are some of the most common:
The punishment for fraud in Wisconsin is largely situational, since it is based on the value of the damages done to the victim. That being said, when damages amount to under $2,500 it's generally considered a misdemeanor. But damage $2,500 and above is considered a felony and carries more severe penalties on a case-by-case basis.
Larceny in Wisconsin
Larceny is just a fancy word that means, "the theft of personal property." This umbrella term is vague by nature to cover a wide spectrum of crimes and appears in the Wisconsin statutes simply as "theft", or someone who, "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."
Again, punishments for theft in Wisconsin vary on a case-by-case basis. There are many factors that can push a misdemeanor theft to a felony, including:
We have already extensively covered embezzlement in the past, so for more detailed information, see our previous article.
But just as a quick synopsis: embezzlement is hard to define in Wisconsin law -- it tends to lie somewhere between theft and fraud. But the most solid definition of embezzlement is, "the theft or misappropriation of funds placed in one’s trust or belonging to one’s employer." Embezzlement is, at its core, theft. However, the term specifies that the offender has legal access to the funds/property, yet they misuse or assume possession of the funds/property without employer knowledge or permission. Technically, a cashier stealing from the cash register is embezzlement.
Theft is an umbrella term that covers the unlawful and unpermitted taking of property from another person or organization. While the terms 'embezzlement', 'fraud' and 'larceny' are mere subsets of theft, being accused of any of these crimes holds a lot of weight. The punishments can be severe, depending on the situation, and can significantly damage your reputation. If you're accused of any of these crimes, you need experienced defense attorneys at your side to stand up for you. We at Southworth & Stamman will give you the best defense possible and will protect your rights, your integrity and your freedom. Contact us today to schedule a legal consultation.
Southworth & Stamman, LLC.