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What is a property offense?

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, property crime includes burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson. These offenses are categorized as such because they don't involve force or a threat of force against the victims.

Records show that across the United States, there were about 9 million property offenses in 2010. Larceny-theft made up about 68.1 percent of these crimes. The dollar amount of losses was estimated to be $15.7 billion. Wisconsin totaled 142,612 property offenses on record that year. There were 33,965 arrests in our state associated with those crimes. Of those arrests, the FBI data shows 10,299 of them were alleged perpetrators under the age of 18.

Property crimes may be either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances. Wisconsin statutes specifically define crimes against property. For example, theft charges fall under the broader category of misappropriation and are further broken down into such actions as issuing a worthless check, absconding without paying rent, shoplifting and receiving stolen property. Damage offenses include deeds such as graffiti, arson and general casualty to property.

Many of these cases do not actually get to trial. Because of the non-violent nature of the wrongdoing, prosecutors might be more inclined to negotiate alternative solutions. These can be helpful in lessening the impact on a defendant's family, job or school and future – all of which can be affected by a criminal charge. Serious penalties may apply upon conviction; however, options might be possible in some cases. For example, an agreement might be reached whereby a defendant makes restitution to the person or business. First offenders sometimes fit an alternative sentencing option.

Even though the laws are specific, each property offense circumstance is unique. Criminal defense strategies applicable to each are warranted.

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation Crime Report, "Property Crime" accessed Mar. 04, 2015

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Hertel Law, S.C.
4330 Golf Terrace, Suite 108
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