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What to do if you change your mind after stealing

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2024 | Criminal Defense, Retail Fraud / Theft / Burglary

Imagine you have a lapse in judgment and take a piece of expensive jewelry (a ring) from a store or a person. In this hypothetical, you do not get caught, but you change your mind after the fact and want to give it back.

If you change your mind and want to return the ring, you must decide how. Knowing what to do and understanding the consequences of each option is essential and could determine what happens to you.

Grand larceny or theft

Taking something that is not yours can have dire consequences. In Michigan, the legal system does not take kindly to theft, even if you change your mind and return the item.

Suppose you steal a piece of jewelry worth $5000 and get caught or turn yourself in. In that case, the state can charge you with grand larceny or grand theft.

These charges have severe consequences and if the prosecution proves that you are guilty and the court convicts you, you could face prison time.

The first and most important thing to do is to contact a criminal defense attorney. Understanding your legal options and your rights is critical.

Turning yourself in

Sometimes, people turn themselves in and own their actions. The court may be more lenient, especially if it is your first offense and you volunteered to return the item. However, that is not a guarantee. The safest way to approach this is through an attorney.

If you turn yourself in, while you might feel that you did the right thing, odds are you will not walk out of the police station—at least not in the same way you came in.

Returning the item secretly

You may wonder what happens if you return the item secretly. While this may seem like a safer way to return the item you took while avoiding legal consequences, you still risk getting caught.

If law enforcement catches you or someone else identifies you, returning the item itself could still result in someone filing charges against you.

Working with an attorney

In this situation, the safest and most responsible decision is to consult with a criminal defense attorney. An attorney can help you understand your rights and offer legal advice tailored to your situation.

In addition, an attorney can communicate with the ring’s owner or the authorities and help mitigate the situation. Your attorney will explain the consequences of each of these choices.

Everyone makes mistakes, and if you feel bad about stealing an expensive piece of jewelry or something else of value and want to return it, it speaks of your character and integrity.

However, this does not mean you are immune from prosecution. Because of this, the best option is to seek legal counsel as soon as possible.