Shoplifting, or retail fraud, is a serious criminal charge that has potentially severe consequences.
You can face significant fines and jail time if convicted of this crime. Having a thorough understanding of your defense options helps you avoid outcomes that can affect your future.
What are the different degrees of retail fraud in Michigan?
This type of crime falls into three categories based on various factors, including:
- The value of the stolen property
- Your intent to defraud the retailer
- Any prior shoplifting convictions or arrests
First-degree offenses are the most serious and involve stealing merchandise worth more than $1,000. These are felony charges that have possible penalties of up to five years in prison. Second-degree retail theft charges pertain to the intent to take items valued between $200 and $1,000. These misdemeanor charges can result in fines of up to $2,000 and one year in jail. Third-degree charges apply to first-time offenders with stolen items worth $200 or less. These lesser misdemeanor crimes typically incur fines three times the value of the stolen goods and up to a few months of jail time.
What are your defense options?
If you have no previous convictions, you may be able to negotiate a diversion program to avoid a criminal conviction. You may also attempt to reduce your charges to a lesser degree, minimizing your criminal consequences. Suppose you did not take or intend to steal anything. In that case, you could work to prove your innocence by establishing a mistaken identity issue or demonstrating other relevant details of the incident.
The state penalties for retail fraud are harsh, but there are ways to defend yourself if you understand the legal process. The circumstances of the incident and your knowledge of the law determine your possible recourse.