Retail Fraud and Shoplifting Defense
If you face misdemeanor or felony retail fraud charges, call Michigan’s top Retail Fraud Defense Team for a free consultation. We have decades of experience and an unparalleled track record of success.
Defending Clients Charged with Retail Fraud
Retail fraud, frequently known as shoplifting, is one of Michigan’s most common criminal offenses. Depending on the offense’s circumstances and the defendant’s prior record, the charge can be a felony or misdemeanor. A retail fraud conviction’s penalty can include jail, prison, extended probation, community service, therapy, drug and alcohol testing, fines, restitution (triple damages), and costs. The Michigan retail fraud defense attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have extensive experience successfully defending against retail fraud charges. Our highest priority is to obtain a dismissal of all charges when possible. Although shoplifting charges can result in various criminal penalties, a conviction, jail, and probation are avoidable in many cases.
What is Retail Fraud?
Retail fraud means taking or moving an object offered for sale to the general public with the intent to steal or deprive the owner of the property without full payment. A defendant charged with Retail Fraud is not guilty unless the prosecution can prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor must prove several elements beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction. The property’s value usually determines whether the charge is first, second, or third-degree retail fraud. The prosecutor can increase the severity of the charge if the accused has one or more prior retail fraud or shoplifting convictions.
Attorneys Defending Retail Fraud Charges – Plea Bargain v. Trial
The vast majority of retail fraud cases do not go to trial. The prosecution and defense settle most cases with a plea bargain, a sentence agreement, or dismissal. If the evidence is strong against the defendant, their lawyer must rely on skillful negotiations and persuasive advocacy to achieve an extraordinary outcome.
If the case cannot be settled and proceeds to bench or jury trial, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant took control of some property the store offered for sale at a bench or jury trial. Second, the prosecutor must show that the defendant moved the property. Many people think that the defendant must have removed the property from the store, but the law in Michigan is that “any movement is enough.” The law further indicates that “it does not matter whether the defendant actually got the property past the cashier or out of the store.”
Suppose the prosecutor can prove that the defendant took or moved the property. In that case, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to steal the property. Intent to steal means the defendant intended to permanently take the store’s property without the store’s consent. The defendant’s intent must be proven by “circumstantial evidence.” Savvy defense retail fraud defense attorneys, like those with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., will employ various strategies to cast doubt on the allegation that their client intended to steal.
The last element the prosecution must prove is the collective value of the property in question.
Penalties for Retail Fraud
The penalties for retail fraud and shoplifting can include jail and probation; however, the indirect consequences, such as loss of employment and damaged reputation, can be even more significant.
- First Degree Retail Fraud: If the property’s value was $1,000 or more, the charge is First Degree Retail Fraud, a felony, and the defendant can receive a sentence in prison.
- Second-Degree Retail Fraud: If the value was $200 or more, but less than $1,000, the offense is Second Degree Retail Fraud, a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum sentence of 1 year in jail.
- Third-Degree Retail Fraud: Finally, if the value is less than $200, the offense is Retail Fraud Third Degree, and the maximum possible sentence is up to 93 days in jail.
What would otherwise be a second or third-degree retail fraud can be enhanced or increased to a felony if the defendant has prior retail fraud or shoplifting convictions.
A Savvy, Experienced Retail Fraud Defense Lawyer Might Be Able to Get Charges Reduced or Dismissed
Just because someone faces charges does NOT mean that they must be convicted. There are ways an experienced lawyer can help their client avoid a conviction and jail. The Retail Fraud Defense Lawyers with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have handled over a thousand retail fraud cases in district and circuit courts throughout Michigan. We understand that a conviction for retail fraud can be life-changing in a tragic way, and an attorney must do everything humanly possible to get a charge dismissed or reduced when possible.
Immigration Consequences for Retail Fraud
The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., has represented many clients who were not citizens of the United States and were facing deportation for retail fraud or other immigration consequences. Retail Fraud is considered under immigration law to be a crime involving “moral turpitude.” A conviction for a crime of moral turpitude can result in deportation. When other lawyers claim to know how to help, we have extensive experience and a track record of helping in these difficult situations. We know how to reduce or eliminate the risk of immigration consequences.
Will You Have to Do Jail or Prison Time?
One of the most common questions asked during consultations with potential clients in retail fraud cases is whether they must serve jail time. The answer to that question is complex and dependent upon several factors. The retail fraud defense attorneys with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. can almost always help clients charged with shoplifting avoid jail or prison time in retail fraud cases. In the vast majority of cases, we keep our clients out of jail.
Arraignment for a Retail Fraud Charge
Most people charged with retail fraud receive a ticket upon being released from police custody. Most tickets direct the defendant to appear for arraignment within 10 or 14 days. You do not want to go to the arraignment without a lawyer! In most cases, our attorneys can handle the arraignment without the client, saving them an unnecessary and unpleasant trip to court. If someone is arrested and awaiting arraignment before a judge or magistrate, it is essential they have qualified legal representation to seek a low or personal bond.
Are most people who commit retail fraud dishonest or bad people?
No, most people who face retail fraud charges are not dishonest or bad people. Individuals charged with retail fraud often have no prior record, professional or post-graduate degrees, and financial stability. LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.’s retail fraud lawyers and experts, determined that most retail fraud charges stem from impulsive or thoughtless acts precipitated by extreme stress or anxiety, depression, or overwhelming life challenges. Our lawyers will never judge you. If you choose us to represent you, we will ensure you are treated with dignity and respect.
Call us, and we will find a way to help you.
Call us for a free consultation and confidential case evaluation if you or a loved one faces retail fraud or shoplifting allegations. We are never judgmental and treat all our clients respectfully. The team approach used by LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., involving the collaboration and coordination of a team of highly experienced retail fraud defense attorneys, routinely achieves extraordinary results. We are prepared to defend and protect you when the stakes are high, and there is no room for errors or false promises.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.