Understanding the Different Degrees of Retail Fraud: How a Defense Attorney Can Protect Your Rights
Three Degrees of Retail Fraud in Michigan
There are three degrees of Retail Fraud in Michigan. Each degree represents an increased level of severity. The degree is determined by the value of the merchandise stolen and a person’s prior criminal history.
1st-Degree Retail Fraud
1st-Degree Retail Fraud is a felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison, two (2) years of probation, and a $10,000 fine (or three times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money/property obtained). The prosecutor will charge 1st Degree where:
- The value of the stolen property offered for sale is $1,000 or more; or
- The value of the stolen property offered for sale is $200 or more but less than $1,000, and the defendant has a prior retail fraud conviction.
2nd-Degree Retail Fraud
2nd-Degree Retail Fraud is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, two (2) years of probation, and a $2,000 fine (or three times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money/ property obtained, whichever is greater). The government will charge a suspect with 2nd-Degree if:
- The value of the stolen property offered for sale is $200 or more but less than $1,000; or
- The value of the stolen property offered for sale is less than $200, and the accused has a prior retail fraud conviction.
3rd-Degree Retail Fraud
3rd-Degree Retail Fraud is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail, two (2) years of probation, and a $500 fine (or three times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money/ property obtained, whichever is greater). Someone will face 3rd-Degree charges if the value of the stolen property offered for sale is less than $200 and the person has no prior retail fraud convictions.
How a Top Defense Lawyer Can Help Defend Someone Facing Retail Fraud Charges
Many believe it is impossible to beat retail fraud charges in Michigan; they are wrong. Every case is defensible. A skilled, experienced retail fraud defense lawyer can build a strong defense against any retail fraud case regardless of the strength of the evidence. Every case is different, and the lawyer must carefully analyze the facts and the accused’s individual circumstances to determine which approach gives the client the best chance of avoiding a conviction and jail time. In many cases, a solid legal, factual, or equitable defense can persuade a prosecutor to drop all charges and dismiss a case.
Wrongfully Accused of Retail Fraud
If a client is wrongfully accused of retail fraud, the defense lawyer must examine the following areas of potential defense:
- insufficient evidence of intent to steal,
- lack of evidence integrity (such as poor-quality surveillance footage),
- mistaken identification,
- witness lack of credibility (a loss prevention officer with a bias or who is exaggerating),
- constitutional rights violation,
- genuine mistake, and more.
If someone is guilty of taking an item offered for sale, price tag swapping, concealing retail merchandise, or something similar, it is still possible to build an equitable or mitigating defense. In almost every situation, a person who commits retail theft is not dishonest or bad. After representing thousands of clients accused of similar offenses, our lawyers consistently find that the accused is a good, honorable person suffering from depression, anxiety, or extraordinary stress and acted impulsively or without thinking. In these situations, we have an unparalleled track record for successfully seeking the dismissal of retail fraud charges.
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.