As in other states, shoplifting is a criminal offense in Michigan. Under state law, shoplifting is retail fraud. The consequences upon conviction are harsher than you may have thought.
What constitutes shoplifting?
Retail fraud occurs through the following actions:
- Removing items from a retail establishment without paying for them
- Altering price tags or otherwise misrepresenting the price of items for sale
- Attempting to return or exchange items not paid for
Intent also plays a role in retail fraud. Under the statutory code, the defendant must intend to defraud a retail establishment out of the property through one of the prohibited actions above.
What are the penalties for shoplifting?
The theft of goods is punishable by a court in several ways, depending upon the property’s value.
Third-degree retail fraud involves the theft of goods valued at less than $200. A conviction means up to 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine or fines totaling three times the value of the stolen property
Second-degree retail fraud involves stolen property valued at $200 to $1,000. A conviction can bring up to a year in jail and/or a $2,000 fine or fines totaling three times the value of the property stolen.
First-degree retail fraud involves the theft of goods valued at $1,000 or more. A person who is convicted can serve up to five years behind bars and/or a $10,000 fine or fines totaling three times the value of the property.
Those with prior retail fraud convictions may face additional penalties. Store owners may also target shoplifting defendants in a civil lawsuit to recover financial losses.
You have the right to protect yourself against conviction on retail fraud charges. It’s wise to seek experienced legal guidance.