Michigan criminal defense attorney

Retail Fraud in Michigan: What You Need To Know

Gavel - retail fraud

Have you or has someone you know been charged with retail fraud?

Let’s take a look at a case that happened in the summer of 2017 as an example. Twenty-five year old Rebecca Wiechec of Saginaw, Michigan is out of chances because of her problem with shoplifting. She has had to plead guilty to six separate shoplifting cases from the last three years. The goods stolen totaled more than $200 from a Saginaw County Kohls store.

Wiechec had to appear at her arraignment on video from a Bay County Jail for her first degree retail fraud charge in June 2017. She has also been charged with possession of under 25 grams of a heroin-mixed controlled substance according to MLive.

Retail fraud is also known as shoplifting. It is a serious problem for someone charged with shoplifting, or even attempted shoplifting. You could be charged with attempted retail fraud for moving an item from one place in the store to another. This is true even if you didn’t remove an item if an employee suspects you might have been trying to steal something.

Another example is if you switch tags on items in an attempt to pay less for something. This could also be considered shoplifting. A conviction for any of these things could mean jail time, fines and a serious impediment to your future.

Here is what the Michigan Penal Code counts as retail fraud:

First Degree Retail Fraud

  • If you alter, transfer, remove, replace, conceal or in any other way misrepresent the price of an item with the intent to not pay for it or pay less for it while the store is open to the public if the resulting difference is over $1,000.
  • If you steal an item from a store which has a value of $1,000 or more while it is open to the public.
  • If you obtain or attempt to obtain money or store property as a refund or exchange for property that was stolen from the store in the amount of $1,000 or more.

Second Degree Retail Fraud

  • If you alter, transfer, remove, replace, conceal or in any other way misrepresent the price of an item with the intent to not pay for it or pay less for it while the store is open to the public if the resulting difference is between $200 and $1,000.
  • If you steal an item from a store which has a value between $200 and $1,000 while it is open to the public.
  • If you obtain or attempt to obtain money or store property as a refund or exchange for property that was stolen from the store in the amount between $200 and $1,000.

Third Degree Retail Fraud

  • If you alter, transfer, remove, replace, conceal or in any other way misrepresent the price of an item with the intent to not pay for it or pay less for it while the store is open to the public if the resulting difference is less than $200.
  • If you steal an item from a store which has a value less than $200 while it is open to the public.
  • If you obtain or attempt to obtain money or store property as a refund or exchange for property that was stolen from the store in the amount less than $200.

Penalties for Retail Fraud

The consequences of a guilty conviction for retail fraud can be far-reaching even if you do not see jail time. It could affect the rest of your life and should be taken seriously.

First degree retail fraud is a 5-year felony and carries a fine of $10,000 or three times the value of the stolen property.

Second degree retail fraud is a misdemeanor with jail time up to 1 year and a potential fine of $2,000 or higher and third degree retail fraud carries a penalty of 93 days jail time and a $500 or greater potential fine.

Takeaway

If you are facing charges for retail fraud, and you have prior convictions, your sentence could be enhanced beyond these. It is critical that you seek professional assistance right away.

Call my office today.

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This article was published on: September 2, 2017 and was last modified September 2, 2017