What Happens if You Get Caught Shoplifting in Michigan?

What Happens if You Get Caught Shoplifting in Michigan?

If you’re caught shoplifting in Michigan, your future might be at risk. You could face criminal charges and have to go through the legal process to fight for a fair outcome. Luckily, if you’re facing shoplifting charges, you’re not alone. A Michigan criminal defense attorney can protect your rights. 

How Does Michigan Law Define Shoplifting?

Under Michigan law, shoplifting is referred to as retail fraud. When a person is accused of shoplifting, it means they have allegedly altered, removed, replaced, transferred, concealed, or in some way misrepresented the price of an item with the intent to either not pay for the item or pay less than the actual price. 

There are multiple “degrees” of shoplifting, depending on the value of the item(s) in question. Shoplifting can be either a misdemeanor or a felony and comes in three degrees.

First-degree shoplifting applies to cases with property valued at $1,000 or greater. Charges in the first degree are typically felonies. Second-degree shoplifting involves items worth between $200 and $999.99. Third-degree shoplifting applies to property valued at less than $200. Second and third-degree offenses are misdemeanors. 

For the prosecution to secure a conviction, they must have enough evidence to show the defendant committed the crime. A criminal defense attorney can create a defense strategy to argue claims and evidence and attempt to reach the best possible outcome. 

Penalties for Shoplifting in Michigan

Consequences for retail fraud in Michigan depend on the severity of the charge and the defendant’s criminal past — if they have one.

For felony shoplifting in the first degree, penalties commonly include up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. However, fines may be greater, depending on the value of the stolen property.

In addition, repeat shoplifters who later commit second-degree shoplifting can be charged with felony first-degree retail fraud. This means that having a prior shoplifting conviction, even if it’s a third-degree misdemeanor, can promote a defendant into felony prosecution. 

For misdemeanor second-degree retail fraud, penalties include one year in jail and up to $2,000 in fines, which could be greater depending on the property’s value. 

In addition, a repeat shoplifting offender with a prior conviction faces charges for retail fraud in the second degree if convicted of a new, third-degree retail fraud crime. For third-degree shoplifting charges, penalties include up to 93 days in jail plus fines of up to $500.

Potential Defenses for Shoplifting

When you hire a criminal defense attorney, your lawyer creates a defense strategy just for you. Your ideal defense depends on the specifics of your situation. Some of the common defenses to retail fraud include:

  • Lack of intent
  • Mistaken identity
  • Ownership

Criminal defense attorneys have the knowledge, skills, and resources to help you get the most favorable case result, from dropped charges and reduced penalties to case wins. As soon as you’re facing charges for retail fraud, do not wait to contact a defense lawyer. 

Seeking Legal Assistance for Shoplifting in Michigan

After getting charged with a crime, you should never handle your case alone. A criminal defense lawyer can benefit your case greatly and fight to protect your future. If you’re caught shoplifting in Michigan, don’t wait to get legal help and secure your rights. Contact a local criminal defense attorney right away.