Important Information Regarding Retail Fraud Charges You Need to Know
If a store or the police have accused you of retail fraud, you must have all the available information to make the best decisions.
The more you know, the better choices you can make to minimize any negative consequences.
In Michigan, one of the most commonly charged offenses is Retail Fraud. Retail Fraud can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. Most people refer to Retail Fraud as shoplifting. A conviction for retail fraud charges, even the misdemeanor variety, will likely have a severe impact on a person’s ability to obtain employment, licensing, ability to get financing, professional employment, custody, the likelihood of achieving U.S. citizenship, and possible deportation (retail fraud is a crime of moral turpitude for immigration purposes). Like any other criminal offense, a sentence for retail fraud can include probation, incarceration (jail or prison), heavy fines and costs, drug/alcohol testing, community service, therapy, economic crime classes, and much more.
The damage to a person’s reputation after a conviction for stealing is often irreversible. For these reasons, if a person has felony or misdemeanor retail fraud charges, an experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney must do everything humanly possible to get the charge dismissed or reduced.
Retail fraud or shoplifting always involves an allegation of attempted theft or theft from a store open to the public for business at the time of the offense. The business is almost always a retail establishment where they sell the goods to the general public. Retail fraud does not require a completed theft. The government can charge someone who merely moves an item offered for sale or conceals such an item if they intend to steal. Altering or removing a price tag while intended to defraud is also considered retail fraud. If false or exaggerated allegations result in retail fraud charges, an influential, aggressive defense attorney has the best chance of getting the charges dismissed.
Types of Retail Fraud
First Degree Retail Fraud
Felony – Maximum of 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. A charge of First Degree Retail Fraud is usually the result of the alleged theft being over $1,000, or if the person has a prior theft-related conviction and the amount in controversy is over $200 for the instant offense. Maximum of 5 years probation.
Second Degree Retail Fraud
Misdemeanor – Maximum of 1 year in jail plus fines and costs. A charge of Second Degree Retail Fraud is usually the result of an alleged theft between $200 and $1000, or if the theft is under $200 and the person has a prior theft-related conviction. Maximum of 2 years probation.
Third Degree Retail Fraud
Misdemeanor – Maximum of 93 days in jail plus fines and costs. This offense occurs when the store’s theft or attempted theft involves merchandise under $200. A judge can also impose up to 2 years of probation.
More Useful Information
Some counties are considered the toughest on retail fraud cases, including Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County, Livingston County, and Washtenaw County.
You may ask, “do I need a retail fraud lawyer or a retail fraud attorney?” Absolutely! As mentioned earlier, a conviction for retail fraud charges can be life-changing in a tragic way. Those that choose to represent themselves or hire a bargain lawyer inevitably live to regret not taking the matter more seriously. What are the possible consequences? The loss of a job opportunity. The loss of your children in a custody dispute. Deportation? Inability to get a loan? Inability to get a professional license? The cost of hiring a great Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney is high, but not hiring one is higher.
Note: A habitual notice can result in the maximum possible sentence for a felony retail fraud being increased to a maximum and one-half, double, or even a maximum of life in prison for a Fourth Degree Habitual.
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