The Somerset Collection (which is also often referred to as Somerset Mall) in Troy, Michigan is known for its assortment of high end stores and is a popular destination for many shoppers. One of the issues that the mall and its individual stores face everyday is retail fraud (also known as shoplifting). The Somerset Collection and its individual retailers combat this issue by employing trained security/loss prevention workers, closed circuit television (CCTV), and theft detection devices to identify, and aid in the apprehension and prosecution of suspected shoplifters. One of the strategies to address the retail theft issue is aggressive prosecution by the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office and the Troy City Attorney to act as a deterrence to others and to try and prevent repeat offenders.
A conviction for 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 in Michigan depending upon the following 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 1st 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.
Organized Retail Fraud is a 5 year maximum felony offense that involves a person working alone or in concert with other individuals to steal items, often to resell them to other persons.
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 2nd 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. 3rd Degree Retail Fraud occurs when the theft or attempted theft from the store involves merchandise under $200.
As mentioned previously, the Troy City Attorney aggressively prosecutes shoplifting cases as a 93 day misdemeanor under local Troy ordinances.
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.
By being tough on these type of crimes, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office and the Troy City Attorney are making an effort to protect local businesses. This is a reason why it is important for someone accused of a retail fraud in Troy Michigan to have an experienced criminal lawyer defined them.
Along with the right to be represented by counsel, a person charged with retail fraud has rights to counter the prosecution.
For felony retail fraud 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 retail fraud 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.
All retail fraud cases concerning persons who are 17 years old or older are filed at the 52-4th Division District Court in Troy Michigan 48084. The 52-4th Division District Court is located at 520 W. Big Beaver Road in the city of Troy. The current Judges elected to serve at this Court are the Honorable Kirsten Nielsen Hartig and the Honorable Maureen M. McGinnis.
Retail Fraud cases concerning minors under age 17, if prosecuted, are generally filed at the Family Division of the 6th Circuit Court. The 6th Circuit Court is located at 1200 N. Telegraph Road in Pontiac, Michigan 48342. The aim of the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation.
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:
First, you have a better chance of receiving a reasonable bail or bond through effective legal representation;
Second, the lawyer can prepare the case for preliminary examination (for felony cases) to work for possible dismissal, lay the groundwork for possible motions, develop testimony to impeach witnesses, and develop defenses for trial.
Third, if you want to fight the case at trial, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney to prepare and conduct the trial to give you the best chance of winning.
Fourth, if you plan to plead guilty, the Defense lawyer can work to achieve the best result through possible plea bargains, possible Cobbs agreements, persuasive lawyering, proper scoring of the Michigan Sentence Guidelines (when applicable), successful arguments concerning possible sentencing options to avoid a public conviction such as HYTA – Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (for individuals under 24 years old) and Diversion Programs (such as the Oakland County Prosecutor’s First Offender Program), and having someone working on your behalf to try and help you avoid incarceration. Every case is different, and whether or not the factors in this paragraph apply depends upon your history, the facts of the allegation, the Prosecutor’s office, and the Judge assigned to the case.
Sometimes in life you only have 1 opportunity to receive the right result.
When charged with retail fraud or shoplifting in Troy, Michigan it is important to hire an experienced local criminal lawyer, such as Attorney Daniel Hilf of Hilf & Hilf, PLC 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.