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What’s the penalty for retail fraud in Michigan?

On Behalf of | Jun 8, 2023 | Criminal Defense

If you face criminal charges in a Michigan court, the strength of your defense will determine the outcome of your case. The type of defense strategy you employ depends on the charges against you. For instance, if you’re headed to court for an unpaid traffic ticket, you might not use the same defense options as you would if you are accused of retail fraud.  

In this state, retail fraud includes switching price tags, fraudulent merchandise returns, shoplifting and more. If a judge hands down a conviction, you could spend up to a year in jail and incur substantial fines, perhaps as much as three times the value of the items you were convicted of stealing. With your freedom and a lot more at stake, it’s always best to build as strong a defense as possible.  

Intent to commit fraud — a key defense issue in a retail fraud case 

If a prosecutor is trying to convince a criminal court judge or jury that you have committed retail fraud, he or she must prove that you intended to deceive a mercantile in the act you’re accused of committing. For instance, if you notice that a price tag is lying on a shelf near an item you’re buying, and you think it belongs on the item but later find out it is the wrong price tag, you could wind up facing retail fraud charges. 

However, the prosecutor would have to prove that you put the tag on the item specifically to deceive the clerk and get the product for a lower price. If the prosecution team can’t prove that you intended to commit fraud, it’s unlikely that the court would hand down a conviction.  

How do you build a strong criminal defense? 

When you are arrested and charged with retail fraud or some other crime in Michigan, you must be granted the opportunity to refute the charges in court. You can start building a strong defense by learning more about the criminal justice system — how it works and what is expected of you in court.  

It’s also important to weigh your options for defense strategies and determine which one best fits your needs at the time. Asking someone with criminal trial experience to review your case is a good idea. This person can provide guidance and make recommendations as to what options are available to you, such as if you have an alibi or a personal rights violation took place in the process of your arrest. This type of support can help you obtain as positive an outcome as possible.