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Theft Penalties With Prior Convictions

In Michigan, prior convictions could create what are often called habitual charges. In these cases, the accused person must be given a timely notice of the prosecutor's intent to pursue that habitual charge. Each prior felony conviction can create a new habitual charge as follows. The calculation of sentences under this law when determining penalties for theft offenses with a prior conviction in Michigan can become complicated. A Michigan theft attorney can help a person to fight the additional penalties from habitual offenses.

Calculating Sentencing

The calculation of a habitual offender sentence for theft penalties with prior convictions in Michigan will depend on several things, including if the underlying theft crime is an attempted felony, or high court misdemeanor, meaning a theft crime that is punishable by a maximum penalty of over 1 year. For these crimes, a second habitual will increase the possible sentence by 50 percent. If a person is charged with a theft crime punishable by five years, then the habitual will add another possible two and a half years, so now their maximum sentence, with the habitual second, is seven and a half years.

If a person has two prior felonies (or high court misdemeanors), then a habitual third will double the possible sentence. The habitual third will increase the maximum possible sentence to 10 years. If they have three prior felonies and are charged with a habitual fourth, the maximum penalty increases the maximum penalty to 15 years. As another example, if they are convicted of the theft crime of uttering and publishing, then they are charged with a crime punishable by up to 14 years.

  • A second notice increases this from 15 to 21 years in prison
  • A third increases the 15 years to 28 years
  • A fourth increases the maximum sentence from 15 years to life in prison (or a term of years to be set by the court).

Once a person gets to a fourth conviction, it does not matter how many prior felonies they have because a person can only be charged with the fourth habitual. Each habitual significantly increases the potential length of time in jail. Prior misdemeanor convictions, meaning punishable by less than a year, are also considered in sentencing and may increase a jail sentence, but they do not lay the foundation or the predicate for a separate habitual charge.

Mitigating Penalties

When a person in Michigan charged with a theft crime with prior convictions gets in contact with their attorney, they will want to know what has transpired so far as it relates to their contact with the police–whether any statements have been made, or if any searches or seizures have been conducted in order to make a defense to mitigate the penalties. The Michigan defense lawyer will want to know the alleged value or amount of the property involved, and what knowledge the person might have of the crime they are being charged with. Sometimes people do not know or fully understand exactly what charges they are facing.

A skilled theft defense attorney will orient their client to the Michigan criminal justice system so they have a good idea of what to expect as their case moves through it. Most clients are interested in knowing what the best and worst case scenarios might be for their case, and an experienced attorney can advise them of potential outcomes.

Contacting an Attorney

The consequences of being convicted of theft in Michigan can be very severe, often punishable by many years in prison. Being convicted of a theft crime can cause you to lose your job, your professional license, and your career, so it is wise to contact a Michigan theft attorney as soon as you have been arrested. Apart from facing incarceration, a conviction on a person's criminal record can have a disastrous impact on their future when it comes to applying for jobs, going to school, getting loans, and more.

Often, a person charged with theft might accept a plea bargain to avoid going to jail, without considering the collateral consequences. Those consequences can be devastating, and haunt a person for the rest of their life. When facing theft penalties with a prior conviction behind you, it is of the utmost importance to work with a skilled attorney to help fight your charges.

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