Retail Fraud Defense Attorney in Michigan

Shoplifting or retail fraud as it’s called in Michigan is a serious charge. It can take one of many forms and if convicted, the consequences may impact the rest of your life. If you are facing charges, it is in your best interest to have a diligent and experienced retail fraud defense attorney by your side. Call The David J. Kramer Law Firm, PLLC today to a free consultation.  

We understand that you may find yourself in a predicament. Perhaps you were in your favorite store and you were so tempted to take that unique piece of clothing that you attempted to switch its tag with the tag on a cheaper item. Or, you hid it in your purse or under your shirt.

Then, you thought better of it and tried to take it back, before ever leaving the store. An employee noticed what you had done. Or maybe in a fit of remorse, you confessed it to a manager or a loss prevention professional. Under Michigan law, you’ve just committed retail fraud.

Here is another scenario. Perhaps you have a friend who works at a retail store where you both enjoy shopping. He gives you his employee discount. Or he looks the other way while you pocket merchandise. Or he goes one step further and takes the item out of inventory in the store’s system. You both have just committed retail fraud.

Retail Fraud Is Serious In Michigan

Most first-time offenders don’t realize how seriously retail fraud is taken in Michigan. Many offenders are young, without no experience with the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, they make the mistake of thinking shoplifting is not a big deal.

Others make the mistake of speaking to managers and loss prevention professionals without first employing a criminal defense attorney. They don’t realize the potential criminal penalties for retail fraud in Michigan.

The above two examples are just two of many types of activities that could be viewed by retail store employees as retail fraud and prosecuted in criminal court. There are other types of activities which could be prosecuted under these definitions.

In Michigan, retail fraud is separated into three different categories.

First Degree Retail Fraud

According to Michigan Legislature Section 750.356c, first degree retail fraud is when the person is a store or its immediate vicinity while a store is open to the public and the defendant:

  • Alters
  • Transfers
  • Removes and replaces
  • Conceals
  • Otherwise misrepresents the price at which property is offered for sale.
  • Has intent not to pay for the property or has the intent to pay less than the price
    • If the resulting difference in price is $1,000.00 or more
  • Steals the property of the store that is offered for sale at an amount of $1,000.00 or more.
  • Has the intent to defraud.
  • Obtains or attempts to obtain money or property from the store as a refund or exchange for property that was not paid for and belongs to the store.
    • If the amount of money or value of the property obtained or attempted to be obtained is $1,000.00 or more

In addition, a person who has one or more prior convictions for committing or attempting to commit an offense under this section is guilty of retail fraud in the first degree.

You do not have to have stolen $1,000.00 or more in one incident. If you took or defrauded from the store a value of $1,000.00 or more over the course of 12 months, the amounts you defrauded in separate incidents will be added together to determine the total value involved.

Second Degree Retail Fraud

According to Michigan Legislature Section 750.356d, if a person is in a store or its immediate vicinity, while a store is open to the public and the defendant:

  • Alters
  • Transfers
  • Removes and replaces
  • Conceals
  • Otherwise misrepresents the full price with the intent not to pay for the property or to pay less than the full price.
    • If the resulting difference in price is $200.00 or more but less than $1,000.00
  • Steals the property of the store valued at $200.00 or more but less than $1,000.00.
  • Has the intent to defraud and obtains or attempts to obtain money or property from the store as a refund or exchange for property that was not paid for and which belongs to the store.
    • The amount of money or the value of the property obtained or attempted to be obtained must be $200.00 or more but less than $1,000.00 to qualify as second degree retail fraud.

Third Degree Retail Fraud

If a person is in a store or its immediate vicinity while a store is open to the public and the defendant:

  • Alters
  • Transfers
  • Removes and replaces
  • Conceals
  • Otherwise misrepresents the price at which property is offered for sale.
  • Has intent not to pay for the property or has the intent to pay less than the price
    • If the resulting difference in price is less than $200.00
  • Steals the property of the store that is offered for sale at an amount of less than $200.00.
  • Has the intent to defraud
  • Obtains or attempts to obtain money or property from the store as a refund or exchange for property that was not paid for and belongs to the store.
    • If the amount of money or value of the property obtained or attempted to be obtained is less than $200.00

In other words, a variety of offenses or behaviors qualify as retail fraud in the State of Michigan. Prosecutors must prove intent. They have to show that you meant to steal to gain a conviction.

The difference between degrees resides in the amount of money you stole or defrauded. Additionally, if this is your second conviction for retail fraud or other forms of theft, you are looking at an automatic first degree retail fraud charge.

Penalties for Retail Fraud in Michigan

First degree retail fraud is considered a felony and it is punishable by up to 5 years in prison. A fine of up to $10,000 or 3 times the amount you stole, whichever is greater.

Second degree retail fraud is a misdemeanor. You may spend up to 1 year in prison if you are convicted of Second Degree Retail Fraud.  You may also pay a fine of up to $2,000 or 3 times the value of what was stolen, whichever is greater.

Third degree retail fraud is also a misdemeanor and punishable by up to 93 days in jail. Added to this may be a fine of up to $500 or 3 times the value of what was stolen, whichever is greater.

In addition to any criminal charges you may face for retail fraud (which includes attempting to steal something, or even moving something), a retail store can, and will, bring civil charges against you.

Under Michigan law, a retailer can demand the full retail price of property they can’t recover, or that is no longer in saleable condition from you. As well as, demand civil damages ten times the retail price of what you stole up to $200. These charges would be separate from any criminal charges and fines you could be ordered to pay for the items you stole.

Retail Fraud Defense Attorney David J. Kramer Will Work to Keep Your Charges Off Of Your Permanent Record

David J. Kramer, experienced retail fraud defense attorneyMany young, first-time shoplifting offenders do not realize the severe ramifications a retail fraud conviction can have on the rest of their lives. While the criminal penalties may be over in a relatively short amount of time, a shoplifting conviction may remain on your permanent record and may affect many areas of your future:

You may lose your current job and/or be prevented from obtaining future jobs whose application process involves a background check. You may:

    • Not be able to rent property.
    • Be denied financial aid or scholarships.
    • Be denied admission into graduate programs, law school or medical school
  • Lose some awards you have won.
  • Have your reputation in your school, your town or other organizations compromised.
  • Be denied entrance into other organizations or committees requiring a background check.

Retail fraud attorney David J. Kramer is serious and passionate about defending those accused of committing retail fraud. In fact, he will work tirelessly to get your charges thrown out, reduce your charges, and keep them off of your permanent record.

Furthermore, he will work with your judge to keep your record clean to make sure you don’t suffer the consequences of one wrong decision for an entire lifetime.

No matter what stage of criminal retail fraud charges you are in right now, it’s imperative that you employ the services of an aggressive criminal defense attorney. If possible, do not give any information to retail managers, loss prevention officers, or law enforcement without first contacting a criminal defense attorney to defend your rights.