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Retail Fraud at the Airport

Whether you are waiting to board a flight in Detroit Metro Airport’s McNamara Terminal or are elsewhere in the airport, there are numerous retail establishments in which a person can be accused of shoplifting. Under Michigan law (Michigan Penal Code Section 750.356), shoplifting is defined as “retail fraud.” From higher end stores such as Brooks Brothers and Pandora to shops selling quick items for your flight, such as CNBC or Dylan’s Candy Bar, you can be accused of retail fraud or shoplifting. An individual can be charged with different levels of retail fraud depending upon the specific facts of the alleged crime, including the amount of property that was stolen.

Facing retail fraud charges should be taken extremely seriously. If convicted, you will not only face the immediate consequences such as a monetary fine and/or jail time, but you will also face the long-term consequences of having a criminal record. A Detroit criminal defense attorney can help to build your retail fraud defense case today.  Retail Fraud is considered a crime of moral turpitude for immigration purposes.  Deportation consequences can occur.  In addition, crimes involving theft or dishonesty may be used against you in civil lawsuits and brought out in depositions.  It is important to try and avoid having convictions for retail fraud on your record.  It is not just a “ticket” you should pay and not worry about.  It is a serious legal matter.

Understanding Retail Fraud Under Michigan Law

Under Michigan law, retail fraud can be categorized either as a felony offense (retail fraud in the first degree) or a misdemeanor offense (retail fraud in the second or third degree). The level of the offense depends upon a number of different factors, including the specific alleged actions of the defendant that defrauded the retail establishment, as well as the amount of property allegedly stolen.

Retail Fraud in the First Degree (Felony)

The following are elements of a felony retail fraud in the first degree offense (Michigan Penal Code Section 750.356c):

  • Alters, transfers, removes and replaces, conceals, or otherwise misrepresents the price of property for sale in a store, while the store is open, with the intention of paying less for the property than the asking price, with a price difference of $1,000 or more;
  • Steals property worth $1,000 or more while a store is open; and/or
  • Makes an exchange or refund with the intent to defraud the store for $1,000 or more.

When a person is convicted of retail fraud in the first degree, the penalties can include:

  • Up to 5 years imprisonment; and/or
  • Monetary fine of up to $10,000, or three times the value of the property stolen (or that the defendant attempted to steal)—whichever is greater.

Retail Fraud in the Second Degree (Misdemeanor)

The following are elements of a misdemeanor retail fraud in the second degree offense (Michigan Penal Code Section 750.356d):

  • Alters, transfers, removes and replaces, conceals, or otherwise misrepresents the price of property for sale in a store, while the store is open, with the intention of paying less for the property than the asking price, with a price difference of more than $200 but less than $1,000;
  • Steals property worth more than $200 but less than $1,000 or more while a store is open; and/or
  • Makes an exchange or refund with the intent to defraud the store for more than $200 but less than $1,000.

When a person is convicted of retail fraud in the first degree, the penalties can include:

  • Up to 1 year imprisonment; and/or
  • Monetary fine of up to $2,000, or three times the value of the property stolen (or that the defendant attempted to steal)—whichever is greater.

Retail Fraud in the Third Degree (Misdemeanor)

The following are elements of a misdemeanor retail fraud in the third degree offense (Michigan Penal Code Section 750.356d):

  • Alters, transfers, removes and replaces, conceals, or otherwise misrepresents the price of property for sale in a store, while the store is open, with the intention of paying less for the property than the asking price, with a price difference of less than $200;
  • Steals property worth less than $200 while a store is open; and/or
  • Makes an exchange or refund with the intent to defraud the store for less than $200.

When a person is convicted of retail fraud in the first degree, the penalties can include:

  • Up to 93 days imprisonment; and/or
  • Monetary fine of up to $500, or three times the value of the property stolen (or that the defendant attempted to steal)—whichever is greater.

Contact a Detroit Criminal Defense Lawyer

Were you charged with retail fraud at Detroit Metro Airport? A Michigan criminal defense attorney can help. Contact the law office of Paul J. Tafelski today.

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