What many people would chock up to a teenage peer pressure crime is actually more serious than they think. Shoplifting, known as retail fraud here in Michigan, comes with some stiff penalties depending on the circumstances. The state has three degrees of retail fraud with increasing amounts of jail or prison time, and fines. In addition, retailers retain the right to seek restitution in civil court as well.
Michigan’s law regarding retail fraud encompasses more than just taking property from a store without paying for it. Anyone who somehow misrepresents the price of merchandise in order to pay less for it could also end up under arrest for this offense. Moreover, if a person attempts to obtain a refund, or return or exchange merchandise received in this way, he or she may also face charges.
Whether an individual faces first, second or third degree charges of retail fraud depends on the value of the property involved. A third degree charge is based on the value of the property being less than $200. If the property is valued between $200 and $1,000, a person could face a second-degree charge. Finally, a person facing a first-degree charge of retail fraud is accused of taking property worth $1,000 or more.
A person convicted of retail fraud could end up spending up to 93 days in jail on the lower end and up to five years in prison on the higher end. Moreover, the fines range from $500 to $10,000. These are not insignificant penalties by any stretch of the imagination. A conviction could also have repercussions to a person’s personal and professional lives. Therefore, any Michigan resident facing these charges may want to challenge them in order to achieve the best outcome possible under the circumstances.