Retail fraud – often called “shoplifting” – is a serious crime in Michigan that can result in lengthy jail time, a large fine, a criminal record and restitution to the retail store. The consequences of a conviction for retail fraud can impact the rest of your life, meaning that a charge of retail fraud should not be taken lightly. Your best chances of avoiding jail or prison time in addition to high fines, probation, and other penalties is to retain a Michigan criminal defense attorney to fight for your rights.
Types of Retail Fraud in Michigan
Behaviors that may constitute retail fraud in Michigan include:
Michigan has three different categories of retail fraud crimes based on the value of the asset involved:
You may face harsher penalties and charges if you have prior convictions for retail fraud. For example, stealing items between $200 and $1,000 could result in a charge of first-degree retail fraud if you already have a past conviction. Likewise, stealing an item valued at less than $200 could result in a second-degree retail fraud conviction if you are a repeat offender.
Penalties for First-, Second- and Third-Degree Retail Fraud
The penalties become progressively harsher with the escalating degrees of retail fraud under Michigan law. For example:
First-time offenders facing misdemeanor retail fraud charges may be able to avoid jail time and instead be sentenced to community service and probation. Diversion programs may also be available to allow defendants to avoid convictions that could remain on their criminal records for life.
To minimize the penalties or avoid the most serious consequences of a retail fraud conviction, it is important to be represented by an experienced Michigan burglary lawyer.
An attorney can explain all of your options regarding available defenses, as well as plea bargain opportunities and diversion programs that might be an option. You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible after being accused of retail fraud or shoplifting so you can make informed choices throughout your entire experience within the criminal justice system.