When you think about shoplifting, petty theft comes to mind. Things like a teenager stealing a tube of lipstick or a child taking a candy bar are what most people envision. It might surprise you to learn that shoplifting is known as retail fraud in Michigan and it can land the offender in hot water.
Being convicted of retail fraud can lead to difficulties when applying to college, seeking employment, and obtaining various licenses. For immigrants, a conviction could be grounds for deportation.
What are the penalties for committing retail fraud?
There are three levels of penalties for those who commit retail fraud. These include:
- Third-degree retail fraud is considered a misdemeanor and is reserved for first-time offenders and for people who steal $200 or less worth of merchandise. This carries a penalty of up to a $500 fine plus court costs and up to 93 days in jail.
- Second-degree fraud is also considered a misdemeanor and applies to those who steal between $200 to $1,000 worth of merchandise. The maximum sentence includes a fee of $2,000 plus court costs and a year in jail.
- First-degree retail fraud is considered a felony and applies to theft of merchandise that totals $1,000 or more. This carries a maximum sentence of $10,000 plus court costs and up to 5 years in jail.
In addition to the charges listed above, the court may impose a triple penalty by fining the offender up to three times the cost of the stolen merchandise. In addition, merchants who have been victimized by retail fraud have the option to file a civil suit for the cost of stolen merchandise and damages.
If you are charged with retail fraud it is important that you explore all possible avenues of defense as soon as possible.