Shoplifting And Retail Fraud Charges Are Not A Minor Matter
Under Michigan law, retail fraud is the official term for theft through shoplifting. Any theft charge, no matter how small, should be taken seriously. These are considered crimes of “moral turpitude,” which is another phrase for dishonesty.
A conviction for retail fraud will become part of your criminal record, which can have repercussions long into the future. That theft offense on a background check might prevent a person from getting a job, procuring loans, renting an apartment, or getting accepted into colleges and universities.
Even if you were wrongfully accused or managed to avoid jail time, this black mark on your criminal record could haunt you for the rest of your life. You can turn to Ryan Maesen Attorney at Law for effective representation to beat the charges or limit the impact.
Accused of shoplifting in the Grand Rapids area?
Contact my office today at 616-818-0011 for a free consultation to discuss what I can do to help.
Understanding Retail Fraud Charges In Michigan
Retail fraud and shoplifting are interchangeable terms, but it’s not necessarily putting something in your pocket and walking out of the store. You can be charged with retail fraud for:
- Stealing an item without paying for it
- Switching, altering or removing price tags to pay a lesser price
- Obtaining a refund or exchange for goods that you did not purchase
- Creating a distraction to aid and abet another person’s retail theft
- Purchasing goods with stolen gift cards
You can also be charged with receiving stolen property for buying shoplifted merchandise from someone else.
Penalties For Shoplifting And Retail Fraud
In Michigan, retail fraud is charged in three degrees as follows:
- Third-degree. A first-offense misdemeanor charge when the dollar amount of goods stolen is under $200. It carries up to 93 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500 or three times the value of what was stolen, whichever is greater.
- Second-degree. A second-offense misdemeanor charge when the dollar value of the goods ranges between $200 and $1,000. It carries up to a year in jail and/or a $2,000 fine or three times the value of the merchandise stolen, whichever is greater.
- First-degree. A first-offense felony when the dollar value exceeds $1,000 or when the offense is a third or subsequent offense. This charge carries a potential prison term of up to five years and/or a fine of up to $10,000 or three times the value of the stolen goods, whichever is greater.
How Can An Attorney Help Me If I Was Caught Shoplifting Or Accused Of Retail Fraud?
The severity of the consequences you will face when charged with any type of theft are chiefly based on the value of the goods, funds, or services stolen or the property damage incurred during the theft.
- A first offense of retail fraud, whether misdemeanor or felony, if not set for trial, may be eligible for some form of probation in lieu of jail time.
- Many retail fraud cases can also qualify for nonconviction deferred adjudication. This means that proceedings are deferred until you complete your probation and your case can ultimately be dismissed.
- Under certain circumstances, the charge can be removed from your criminal record through nondisclosure.
- Sometimes, the business is willing to drop charges in exchange for restitution and/or a ban from the premises.
None of these resolutions are automatically offered. You must be eligible and convince the prosecutor, the judge or the complainant that you are not a habitual criminal but a person deserving of leniency and a second chance. My 15-plus years of experience in the local courts of Kent, Ottawa and Allegan counties can mean the difference between full penalties with a theft conviction and lesser consequences or a clean record.
If you are facing felony charges, I am an accomplished trial lawyer who prepares from the beginning for the possibility of defending you in court by challenging the evidence and witnesses.
Don’t Take Chances With Your Future
If you are accused of retail fraud or any theft offense, you need a seasoned and strategic defense lawyer. Call my law office day or night at 616-818-0011 for a free consultation, or contact me online. I represent people in the Grand Rapids area and surrounding West Michigan.