Consumer Law at Your Fingertips
Theft by Contractor
A home improvement contractor may be guilty of theft by contractor under Wisconsin Statutes section 779.02(5) if the contractor takes money from a consumer and uses any of that money before paying subcontractors. County district attorneys prosecute criminal theft cases. To convict on a charge of theft by contractor , the prosecutor must prove all the following (see Wisconsin Criminal Jury Instructions):
- The defendant entered into an oral or written agreement (home improvement contract) for labor or materials to improve land.
- The defendant received money from the landowner for the (home) improvements.
- Before fully paying supplier claims for labor and materials used in the (home) improvements, the defendant intentionally used some or all of the money for other purposes.
- The defendant used the money for other purposes without the owner's consent, and contrary to the defendant's authority.
- The defendant knew that the use of the money was without the owner's consent and contrary to the defendant's authority.