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Michigan Theft Attorney

Michigan Retail Theft Attorney Assisting Clients with  Charges

Facing retail theft charges means that you can be facing a misdemeanor or felony conviction in the state of Michigan. Retail theft, or shoplifting, is known under Michigan law as “retail fraud.” Retail fraud typically is charged when a person is caught stealing an item from a store in Michigan. Depending upon the value of the item stolen, the charges can range from a third-degree misdemeanor offense to retail theft in the first degree, which is a felony offense. The penalties for any retail fraud conviction can be severe.

Not only can a person face a significant financial penalty and the possibility of jail time, but a criminal conviction can affect that person’s ability to obtain a rental property, get specific jobs, and sometimes even be approved for certain lines of credit long after the sentence has been served. As such, it is extremely important to have an experienced retail theft defense lawyer on your side.

Different Retail Theft Charges in Michigan

What are the different elements of each type of retail theft? Under MCL 750.356c and MCL750.456d, the following are general retail fraud offenses:

  • Retail fraud in the first degree: taking property that is worth $1,000 or more. This is a felony offense.
  • Retail fraud in the second degree: taking property that is worth at least $200 but less than $1,000. This is a misdemeanor offense.
  • Retail fraud in the third degree: taking property that is worth less than $200. This is a misdemeanor offense.

There are other actions that can also constitute retail fraud. For instance, if a person attempts to return an item to a store in exchange for cash when the original item was not paid for, that might constitute retail fraud. As you can see, the different charging levels largely concern the value of the property that was shoplifted. Once a person is alleged to have stolen property worth $1,000 or more, the offense becomes a felony.

Penalties for Retail Fraud

Retail Fraud in the First Degree

The most serious retail fraud, or retail theft, charge in Michigan is retail fraud in the first degree (MCL 750.356c). Here is what you need to know:

  • Retail fraud in the first degree is a felony offense;
  • Retail fraud in the first degree typically is charged when a person steals property of a value of $1,000 or more;
  • Retail fraud in the first degree can be charged if a person is caught stealing, altering, transferring, removing, concealing, misrepresenting the price of an item for sale, or otherwise taking actions that make clear the person has an intent not to pay for the property or to pay less for the property than its listed value; and
  • Penalties for retail fraud in the first degree can include a fine of up to $10,000 (or three times the value of the property that has been stolen), as well as up to five years in prison.

Retail Fraud in the Second Degree

Retail fraud in the second degree (MCL 750.356d) is still a serious offense, but it is less serious than a first degree charge. Here is what you need to know:

  • Retail fraud in the second degree is a misdemeanor offense;
  • Retail fraud in the second degree typically is charged when a person steals property of a value between $200 and $999;
  • Retail fraud in the second degree can be charged if a person is caught stealing, altering, transferring, removing, concealing, misrepresenting the price of an item for sale, or otherwise taking actions that make clear the person has an intent not to pay for the property or to pay less for the property than its listed value; and
  • Penalties for retail fraud in the second degree can include a fine of up to $2,000 (or three times the value of the property that has been stolen), as well as up to one year in prison.

Retail Fraud in the Third Degree

Retail fraud in the third degree is the least serious shoplifting offense:

  • Retail fraud in the third degree is a misdemeanor offense;
  • Retail fraud in the third degree typically is charged when a person steals property of a value less than $200;
  • Retail fraud in the third degree can be charged if a person is caught stealing, altering, transferring, removing, concealing, misrepresenting the price of an item for sale, or otherwise taking actions that make clear the person has an intent not to pay for the property or to pay less for the property than its listed value; and
  • Penalties for retail fraud in the third degree can include a fine of up to $500 (or three times the value of the property that has been stolen), as well as up to 93 days in jail.

What are the different types of theft charges that people may have to deal with?

Retail fraud in the third degree is shoplifting of anything under $200, second degree retail fraud is $200 to $1,000 worth of merchandise. Anything over $1,000 can be a felony and that’s either anything over $1,000 or people with prior offenses that are having an enhanced charge brought against them.  That pretty much covers all of the shoplifting charges.

In addition to that, the kind of theft crimes that we usually see are larceny from a building, larceny from an automobile, unlawful driving away of an automobile, breaking and entering with intent to steal, embezzlement or conversion. Those are usually the theft crime felonies we see and they usually start off as felonies.

What does conversion mean?

It’s basically like embezzlement but instead it generally involves property. The person starts off with rightful possession of the property or consent to have the property, but then doesn’t give it back.  One example may be- you rented a cleaning machine and you took it home, but didn’t return it back.

What about illegal credit card usage or someone’s misusing a card or using a credit card that does not belong to them, what would that be considered?

The use of a credit card for financial transaction is also a felony.  You also have a situation where someone has a bad check and that’s called Uttering and Publishing which is also a felony.  Those are financial fraud related crimes and often times those crimes can be difficult for the prosecutor to prove depending upon their evidence. They sometimes provide opportunities for the defense to obtain good results and get the case dismissed.

Is that what they refer to as Theft by Deception, when it’s fraudulent or something that they would accuse someone of making some sort of scam or something like that?

Yes.  Those are sort of theft by deception. More often what we’re talking about with those types of crimes is where it was some sort of a scam; such as a door-to-door scam, or ripping-off old people, or tricking them into giving money when there’s really nothing being provided for the money. Those are usually more of what people are talking about with theft by deception, but all the fraud in theft crimes involve somewhat of an element of deception.

What about theft by extortion?  What are some examples of that?

Typically, extortion charges involve threatening somebody with some sort of trouble. For example, “if you don’t give me a $1,000, I am going to turn you into the police for possession of child pornography” or something that implies they will get in trouble if they do not comply. Such as someone who blackmails and says, “Do what I want or else something bad is going to happen to you”.

Contact a Retail Fraud Defense Lawyer

If you are facing retail theft charges, retail fraud defense attorney can help. Contact the law office of Paul J. Tafelski today.

 

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