Retail Fraud (also known as shoplifting) can have serious implications on an individual’s reputation, employment or career, ability to get school loans or attend school, and immigration status (for persons that are not citizens). There is the potential for incarceration, probation with conditions, community service, drug testing, economic crimes classes, counseling, fines, cost, and restitution for an individual who is convicted of retail fraud.
Retail Fraud always involves an allegation of a theft from a store which is open to the public for business at the time of the offense. It can occur by either physically moving or concealing merchandise with the intent to steal, or altering or removing a price tag with the intent to defraud.
Retail fraud can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony offense depending upon the circumstances:
First Degree Retail Fraud is a felony offense that is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. A charge of First Degree Retail Fraud is usually the result of the alleged theft being over $1,000, or if the person has a prior theft related conviction and the amount in controversy is over $200 for the instant offense.
Second Degree Retail Fraud is a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by up to 1 year in jail plus fines and costs. A charge of Second Degree Retail Fraud is usually the result of an alleged theft being between $200 and $1000, or if the theft is under $200 and the person has a prior theft related conviction.
Third Degree Retail Fraud is a misdemeanor offense that is punishable up to 93 days in jail plus fines and costs. This offense occurs when the theft or attempted theft from the store involves merchandise under $200.
Retail Fraud can also be charged under city or local ordinance as a 93 day misdemeanor
Troy Michigan Local Ordinance law 98.08.02 provides that no person shall commit the offense of retail fraud. A person who does any of the following in a store or in its immediate vicinity is guilty of retail fraud:
a. while a store is open to the public, alters, transfers, removes and replaces, conceals or otherwise misrepresents the price at which the property is offered for sale, with the intent not to pay for the property or to pay less than the price at which the property is offered for sale.
b. while a store is open to the public, steals the property of the store that is offered for sale.
c. with 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.
Along with the right to be represented by counsel, a person charged with retail fraud has rights to counter the prosecution.
For felony cases, the Defendant is entitled to a preliminary examination to challenge whether or not there is probable cause to substantiate the accusation and the Defendant’s involvement. If a probable cause determination is made, the Defendant is entitled to a jury trial. The jury would consist of 12 members of the community, and would take place at Circuit Court in which the Prosecutor would have the sole burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
For misdemeanor cases, the Defendant is entitled to a trial before a judge or jury of 6 persons from the community. The Prosecutor or City Attorney would have the sole burden of proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
If such an allegation is made against you it is recommended that you first exercise your right to remain silent and second hire a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest for the following reasons:
When charged with retail fraud or shoplifting in Troy, Michigan it is important to hire an experienced local criminal lawyer to assist you. An experienced criminal lawyer may be able to help you avoid a criminal conviction and a harsh result, depending upon the circumstances of your case.
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