In Michigan, one of the most commonly charged offenses is Retail Fraud. Retail Fraud can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. Retail Fraud is commonly referred to as shoplifting. A conviction for retail fraud, even the misdemeanor variety, will likely have a serious impact on a person’s ability to obtain employment, licensing, ability to get financing, professional employment, custody, 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 crimes classes, and much more. The damage to a person’s reputation after a conviction for stealing is often irreversible. It is for these reasons that if a person is charged with retail fraud, felony or misdemeanor, a Michigan retail fraud defense attorney must do everything humanly possible to get the charge dismissed or reduced.

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The crime of retail fraud or shoplifting always involves an allegation of attempted theft or theft from a store that is open to the public for business at the time of the offense. The business is almost always a retail establishment where goods are offered to sale to the general pubic. Theft of an item is not required for a charge or conviction of retail fraud. A charge can be brought against a person who merely moves an item offered for sale or conceals such an item if there is an intent to steal. Altering or removing a price tag with the intent to defraud is also considered retail fraud.

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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 being 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 to 93 days in jail plus fines and costs. This offense occurs when the theft or attempted theft from the store involves merchandise under $200. Maximum of 2-years probation.

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Counties that are known as the toughest on retail fraud cases: 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 a retail fraud case can be life changing in a tragic way. Those that chose to represent themselves or hire a bargain lawyer inevitably live to deeply 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 the cost of not hiring one is higher.

Note: A habitual notice can result in the maximum possible sentence for a felony retail fraud being increased to maximum and one-half, double or even a maximum of life in prison for a Fourth Degree Habitual.

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