Retail Fraud, College Students, and Careers

It is not uncommon for a college student to have a retail fraud arrest (which is also known as a shoplifting arrest).  The reasons for it may include the thrill, greed, or necessity.  The common element to this type of offense is that if the student committed a retail fraud he or she did not look beyond the moment.  When you are young you may feel invincible, or might not look at the long term consequences.

All of this behavior is rather silly when the long term consequences are considered in light of the time, effort, and tens of thousands of dollars spent on a higher education.  The bottom line is that employers do not want to hire people with theft convictions.  Why?  There is a fear that the employee will steal from them or from customers.  Persons that do not respect boundaries when it comes to a merchant’s products may not respect boundaries when it comes to the workplace and company assets.  Also, there are plenty of other people looking for jobs to choose from that do not have shoplifting convictions.

The government also recognizes that persons with theft convictions should be either highly scrutinized or prevented from obtaining certain types of jobs.  Many jobs that require licensing such as lawyers, doctors, nurses, accountants. etc, mandate that the person obtaining the license pass fitness and character background checks.

If you have a theft conviction, how do you prevent your employer from finding out about it?  A company that hires someone for a well paying job that requires a college degree will often conduct a thorough background check on the candidate.  State licensing for professions such as lawyers require fingerprint evaluation through the FBI database to address the issue.  The government already has access to criminal records through LEIN systems and other databases.  The bottom line is in most instances the employer will find out.

The solution whenever a criminal accusation arises is to contact an experienced criminal lawyer.  How can an experienced lawyer help:

  1.  An experienced lawyer will help to give you a proper defense in order to try and obtain a dismissal or acquittal;
  2. An experienced lawyer will help you, when appropriate, to enter into negotiations with the prosecution and/or the Court to obtain favorable sentencing considerations.  In Michigan, there is a sentencing option called the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) that applies to all theft convictions.  What HYTA does is it keeps the conviction from appearing on a public record.  The discretion for HYTA is with the Judge if the candidate is under 21 years old.  If the candidate is 21 years or older, but under the age of 24, both the prosecutor and the Judge must approve the placement on HYTA.
  3. The experienced lawyer may be able to obtain a plea bargain to a non-theft based offense.  Being convicted of an offense such as disorderly person is better than being a convicted thief.

Once a conviction occurs, what can be done to remove the conviction?

  1.  You could possibly pursue an appeal (if you are timely), or possibly seek post-judgment relief (such as a motion for relief from judgment).  Often getting appellate or post-judgment relief is an uphill battle.  Courts generally want to leave convictions intact, because overturning convictions erodes the public’s confidence in the judicial system.
  2. Another option is to seek an expungement.  However, the general requirement for an expungement is that there must be at least 5 years since the conviction offense.  The Court has the discretion to decided whether or not you merit the expungement – the decision to grant an expungement is not automatic.

It is important that you do not go it alone.  Hire a lawyer to help you with any criminal allegation.  For great criminal law representation I highly recommend attorney Daniel Hilf of Hilf & Hilf, PLC in Troy, Michigan.