What is Retail Fraud?
Retail Fraud is the legal name for shoplifting in Michigan. Basically, retail fraud is divided into three degrees or levels of seriousness.
Retail Fraud in the First Degree
A felony, is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison. The law states that it is a felony to conceal property that is offered for sale or to misrepresent the price at which property is offered for sale if the value of the property or the resulting difference in the price is greater than $1,000.00.
The store must be open to the public at the time of the concealment or change in price. The defendant must have the intent to defraud.
Retail Fraud in the Second Degree
A misdemeanor which carries a maximum possible sentence of one year in jail, has the same elements as Retail Fraud in the First Degree but the value for that offense is set at between $200 and $1,000. The third degree of the offense has a maximum possible sentence of 93 days and applies to offenses with property valued at under $200.
In situations where a defendant has prior convictions for retail fraud, a new offense can be enhanced to one of the more serious degrees even if the value is less than the amount identified for the higher degree offense.
In Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, Genesee, Lenawee, Livingston Counties and throughout Michigan, police and prosecutors are on a mission to forcefully prosecute retail fraud cases. Many people are under the misapprehension that if the value of the property is very low and they are willing to pay back the value of the property, that they will not be prosecuted. Big mistake! Prosecutions mean money for the courts, the police and the prosecutors and they are not letting cases go without convictions if they can get them because the government is in need of the revenue.
Another common misconception is that because Second and Third Degree Retail Fraud are misdemeanors that they can be taken lightly. Again, that is a huge mistake. Retail Fraud cases are unique because they distinctly contain elements of dishonesty. A retail fraud conviction can have a serious impact on employability, reputation, child custody, credibility, immigration, your liberty and more.
Retail fraud defense attorney
Loren Dickstein and Randy Lewis with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. routinely handle retail fraud cases and would be willing to consult with anyone charged in Michigan with that offense or any other criminal charge. Call for a free consultation at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and a highly experienced criminal defense lawyer will promptly contact you.