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Michigan Shoplifting Charges: Shoplifting Laws, Retail Fraud
Michigan shoplifting laws are described as "retail fraud" in the Michigan criminal code. For the well-known criminal offense referred to as shoplifting, the Great Lakes State treats such offenses (particularly repeat offenses) very harshly.
Unlike many states that allow repeat offenders to still be treated "lightly" for petty crimes, Michigan law structures punishment to call for a large fine or three (3) times the value of what was stolen or obtained by deception, whichever is greater. By virtue of such punitive laws, many potential clients calling our Michigan lawyers are seeking to avoid these painful criminal punishments.
In the simplest of descriptions, when any retail establishment (e.g., Walmart, Target, Costco, CVS Pharmacy, a clothing store, a convenience store, a grocery store, a vitamin shop, a liquor store) displays items being offered for sale, going past the checkout register and not paying for the property is retail fraud or "shoplifting."
Yet, Michigan laws are more broadly worded so that other retail deception crimes like label-changing which results in the person paying less that the full price is also criminalized. Various circumstances of "theft" are defined in Michigan laws that cover property stolen or money fraudulently obtained due to deception by the perpetrator.What is Retail Fraud in Michigan (Shoplifting)?
During the hours a retail establishment is open to the public, anyone who
removes and replaces,
or in any other way misrepresents the price of an item with the intent to not pay for the item or to pay less than the actual price, commits the crime of retail fraud. Then, the only remaining question is what "degree" of that shoplifting law has been violated.
What is the Jail Time for Shoplifting? In their FREE lawyer consultation, most of our clients facing retail fraud charges want to ask about shoplifting jail time. This punishment for shoplifting varies, based on the retail value of the property from the store, and the person's prior retail theft criminal history.
The one question that no one should be asking is "is shoplifting a crime?" From childhood, we are taught as children to not take anything that does not belong to us. Plus, under every religious sect or moral teachings, theft crimes carry very harsh punishments in all nations on Earth.
Others call to ask about the statute of limitations (SOL) for misdemeanor or felony shoplifting. Depending on the dollar amount involved (e.g., price of property stolen) and your prior criminal history for similar retail fraud offenses, some significant jail time can be ordered. Six (6) years is the general misdemeanor SOL.
Similarly, felony statutes of limitation are longer that the theft misdemeanor statute of limitations Michigan. Ten (10) years is the usual felony statute of limitations, for routine felony crimes. Six years is the default standard for misdemeanors, unless otherwise stated.In Michigan Retail Fraud Cases, When Is Shoplifting a Felony?
Felony shoplifting is a serious criminal offense that carries potential time in jail. Any first-degree retail theft charge will be accused as a felony. What is needed is a legal warrior who knows how to beat a shoplifting charge in Michigan.
Our Michigan Penal Code outlines three (3) degrees of retail fraud for which a person can be convicted, as set forth below.
Regardless of the dollar value of the item or items pilfered, that person will need experienced and aggressive legal representation in order to:
- Seek to have the charge dropped; or
- Seek to have the offense diverted, which is more commonly granted only for some first lifetime criminal law offenders and sometimes for youthful offenders with a clean prior criminal history; or
- Avoid a felony shoplifting charges by finding a lesser included offense as an alternative charge; or
- Minimize the punishment for shoplifting, and set up the case (for a first offender disposition) so that future expungement may be available or
- Go to trial to try to win the case, where facts justify the trial risk.
Below our MI lawyers near me explain the differences between the shoplifting penalties for various levels of crimes for shoplifting in Michigan. The "degree" of the crime for which you are being charged determines how long can you go to jail for shoplifting.
First degree shoplifting (retail fraud) applies to theft of property which is valued at one thousand dollars ($1000.00 or a higher amount). Those convicted face up to 5 years in prison.
A second-degree retail fraud (shoplifting) charge must be supported by the theft of items(s) valued between two hundred dollars ($200.00 & $999.99). These offenders face up to a year in jail.
The least serious retail fraud charges are 3rd degree offenses, and a third-degree charge is supported by proof of any value of an item (e.g., a pack of chewing gum), which is valued at less than two-hundred dollars ($200.00):
- Retail fraud 1st Degree -
- 2nd Degree retail fraud - retail fraud 2nd degree
- Retail fraud 3rd degree Michigan - retail fraud 3rd degree first offense. These retail fraud third degree cases, that are for the lowest punishment levels, occur when a person does any of the following things within a retail establishment:
- While the establishment is open to the public she or he alters, transfers, removes and replaces, conceals, or in any other way undertakes to misrepresent the true price of an item with an intent to not pay for the item, or (by the deception of label-switching) to pay less than the actual price, creating a resulting difference in what was being paid and that "number" is less than two-hundred dollars ($200.00). OR
- During hours that the store is open to public transactions, the person converts (steals) an item from the store that is priced at less than two hundred dollars ($200.00). OR
- With intent to defraud the store owner, obtains or attempts to obtain money or other store property (in the form of a refund or exchange for other property) that was not paid for by the patron, but which belongs to that business establishment if that item or items are values at less than two-hundred dollars ($200.00). So, any subterfuge or intentional act to not pay the full retail price of the item, and the property is offered to be purchased at a false price by some intentional deception can meet the standards of proof needed to support these crimes.
1st Degree Retail Fraud (Felony): Any first-degree retail fraud conviction (even for a first offender) exposes the accused party to a maximum of five (5) years in state prison. In addition, fines can be assessed by the sentencing judge of up to $10,000 (on any case) or the higher amount of up to three (3) times the value of the stolen goods.
In addition, retail fraud MI laws call for any repeat shoplifter who later commits a new 2nd degree retail fraud crime to be charged with felony first degree retail fraud, too. So, having any prior retail fraud conviction (even a 3rd degree shoplifting) can boost you into felony prosecution, when a new, second-degree shoplifting charge is accused.
2nd Degree Retail Fraud (Misdemeanor): A person found guilty of a 1st offense second-degree retail fraud crime in Michigan faces criminal penalties that can include a one- year maximum jail term, plus either a fine of as much as $2000.00 or the higher amount of three times the total value of the stolen items obtained, whichever is greater.
In addition, any repeat offender in Michigan with any prior retail fraud conviction on his or her record (including third degree crimes) will face a retail fraud 2nd degree charge, if she or he is convicted of a new third-degree retail fraud crime.
Even a first lifetime 3rd degree retail fraud crime can be punished by penalties that include a maximum jail sentence of up to ninety-three (93) days being served in jail, plus fines of up to $500.00, or up to three (3) times the value of the goods taken or fraudulently obtained from the retailer.