Retail Fraud in Michigan – What Can You Expect?
If you are facing retail fraud charges, the odds are that you are feeling stressed and anxious. It is essential that you understand that there is hope, and all retail fraud charges are defensible.
Michigan Retail Fraud – Misdemeanor and Felony Charges Explained
In Michigan, retail fraud misdemeanor charges are extremely common. It can also be punished or charged as a felony under certain circumstances. A retail fraud case involves the allegations that the defendant stole or attempted to steal property from a store. Successfully defending a retail fraud charge takes extensive experience and an understanding of the reasons why good, law-abiding people can find themselves charged with this offense. An excellent retail fraud/shoplifting attorney who regularly defends these cases will have relationships with mental health professionals who can evaluate the person to determine if there are “non-criminal” reasons for committing the crime of retail fraud. In those cases where a person is innocent of the offense, a seasoned retail fraud trial lawyer is the best defense against a wrongful conviction of retail fraud or shoplifting.
Retail Fraud Third Degree – Misdemeanor
Under the Michigan Third Degree Retail Fraud Statute, MCL 750.356d(4), stealing less than $200.00 worth of store merchandise, is a misdemeanor with the possibility of a sentence of up to 93 days incarceration. Possible jail is in addition to fines of up to $500.00 or 3 times the value of the merchandise and potential probation. Retail Fraud 3rdDegree is probably the most common retail fraud offense.
There are various types and degrees of retail fraud in the state of Michigan, here is the overview of the degrees of retail fraud:
Retail Fraud Second Degree – Misdemeanor
Under the Michigan Retail Fraud Second Degree Statute, MCL 750.356d(1), if somebody gets caught stealing more than $200.00 up to $1,000.00 of merchandise or get caught committing a retail fraud 3rd degree with a prior retail fraud conviction, they are guilty of retail fraud second degree. Additionally, a conviction for second-degree retail can result in fines up to $2,000.00 or 3 times the value of the stolen merchandise.
Retail Fraud First Degree – Felony
Retail Fraud First Degree, MCL 750.356c, prohibits stealing more than $1,000.00 worth of merchandise from a retail store. Additionally, one may be charged with a retail fraud 1st degree if they commit a second degree of retail fraud while having a prior retail fraud. The penalty for a retail fraud first-degree conviction is up to five years imprisonment, as well as a fine up to $10,000.00 or three times the value of the stolen merchandise.
Defenses for Shoplifting Charges
If our client is innocent of the felony or misdemeanor retail fraud charge, our team of highly skilled defense lawyers and experts can get to work to formulate a winning defense. Our highest priority is obtaining a full, outright dismissal, if at all possible. In those cases where charges are not dismissed, our retail fraud experts get to work preparing to argue for a Not Guilty verdict. Despite what police or prosecutors may say, an acquittal in a shoplifting case is possible with careful preparation, hard work, and an aggressive defense.
When most prosecutors and judges look at people charged with a retail fraud charge in Michigan, they simply see a dishonest person or somebody who likes to steal. However, in the vast majority of our cases where our clients engaged in inappropriate acts, they had the money to pay for the merchandise. In these cases, there is almost always some other reason for the unfortunate behavior. We regularly can determine a legitimate, credible explanation of why the offense occurred and how to make sure that the behavior is not repeated. Experts who have worked with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have been able to diagnose mental health issues, such as extreme stress or anxiety, and have been able to explain how these issues resulted in a cry for help. In these cases, acting out by shoplifting is not an act of a dishonest or bad person. A good, honest person can easily find themselves in this situation when subjected to stress, anxiety, depression, or domestic, verbal, or mental abuse.
Possible Consequences of a Conviction
At LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., we know the negative impact of a retail fraud conviction in Michigan can be life-changing. Many people are mistaken and believe that a retail fraud conviction will “fall” off a person’s criminal record after a period of time. This is not true. A retail fraud conviction will stay on a person’s criminal history forever unless it is eventually expunged or the conviction is set aside pursuant to MCL 780.621.
If the property in question is valued under $200.00, the maximum jail sentence is 93 days. If the value is between $200 and $1,000, the maximum is raised to 1 year in jail. For felony retail fraud, the maximum possible sentence is 5 years in prison.
Because retail fraud is considered to be a crime of dishonesty, a conviction can have life-long consequences. This type of conviction can result in a loss of employment, child custody changes, revocation, inability to get a professional or medical license, loss of public benefits, denial of admittance to college or a university.
When zealously and adequately defended, most (if not all) of the consequences of a retail fraud conviction can be avoided. There is a multitude of ways a case can be resolved by a great retail fraud defense attorney in which a conviction, fines, costs, probation, and jail can be prevented.
An experienced, aggressive retail fraud defense lawyer can help you!
If you or a loved one is charged with any retail fraud case in Michigan, it is important that you have legal representation that has experience in those types of cases and access to experts that can help with the defense. LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. is the law firm with expertise and passion, and our attorneys will stand up for you against a prosecutor that does not understand or is just looking for harsh punishment.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.