If you are arrested for shoplifting, it is important to learn more about the criminal charges you are facing and to seek help from a Michigan retail fraud defense lawyer as soon as you can. We often assist individuals who are facing shoplifting charges, and we want to walk you through some of the most important steps to take after being arrested in Michigan.
Understand the Charges You are Facing
If you are caught shoplifting in Michigan, you will likely be facing retail fraud charges (MCL 750.356c). Depending upon the value of the item you allegedly stole or attempted to steal, you could be facing anything from a misdemeanor offense for retail fraud in the third degree to a felony offense for retail fraud in the first degree. Retail fraud in the first degree is the most serious shoplifting charge you can face, and it is a felony offense. It is charged when the value of the property in question totals $1,000 or more. Retail fraud in the second degree is a misdemeanor offense that is charged when the value of the property shoplifted is between $200 and $999. Finally, retail fraud in the third degree is the least serious of the shoplifting charges in Michigan, and it is a misdemeanor offense that is charged when someone steals property valued at under $200.
Understand the Penalties You Could be Facing Upon Conviction
The penalties for a shoplifting conviction depend largely upon whether you are facing retail fraud charges in the third, second, or first degree. Retail fraud in the third degree can include a fine of up to $500 and up to 93 days in jail, while retail fraud in the second degree can result in a fine of up to $2,000 and up to one year in prison. To reiterate, these are both misdemeanor offenses.
If you are convicted of retail fraud in the first degree, the sentence for this felony offense can include a fine of $10,000 (and sometimes more if the property you were accused of stealing was extremely valuable) and up to five years in prison.
Minors who are charged with shoplifting offenses and are first-time offenders may be eligible for a diversion program.
Recognize That There are Possible Defenses You can Use to Beat the Charges
There are many different defenses to shoplifting charges in Michigan, and a Michigan criminal defense lawyer can devise a strategy based on the specific facts of your case. For example, a store employee might have falsely accused you of shoplifting as a result of discrimination. Even if you cannot beat the charges entirely, your lawyer may be able to show that the value of the item was significantly less than what the prosecution says in order to reduce your charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, or from a second-degree offense to a third-degree offense.
Seek Help from Experienced Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney
Most importantly, you should seek immediate assistance from an experienced defense attorney. Were you recently arrested for retail fraud in Michigan? It is essential to begin working on your defense as soon as possible. You want to do everything you can to beat these charges in order to avoid having a retail fraud conviction on your record. An aggressive Michigan criminal defense attorney can get started on your case today. Contact the law office of Paul J. Tafelski for more information.