Let an Ann Arbor Retail Fraud Attorney Help You Fight the Charges
Retail fraud - or shoplifting - is sometimes accidental or merely isolated bad judgment. Usually, the embarrassment of being caught and humiliated by store security is sufficient punishment enough. Still, under Michigan law, retail fraud is a punishable offense that can lead to issues with your current and future employment. The key to minimizing the impact that a retail fraud conviction may have on your record is to hire a successful Ann Arbor retail fraud attorney who has experience working with prosecutors to help keep this type of sentence off your criminal record. If you are facing a retail fraud charge for the first time, attorney Sam Bernstein at ArborYpsi Law will fight to get this charge off your permanent record.
Retail Fraud Under Michigan Law
Retail fraud occurs when a store is open and a person in the store:
- Steals an item from the store;
- Alters, conceals, removes, replaces, transfers or misrepresents the price of an item in the store with the intention to pay less than the actual price or not pay for the item at all; or
- Has the intent to defraud, meaning obtain money or property as an exchange or refund for something that was not paid for or belongs to the store.
Our Ann Arbor Retail Fraud Attorney Can Help You Fight Shoplifting Charges
If you’re accused of shoplifting, an Ann Arbor retail fraud attorney at our office will assess your case. Sometimes mistakes in judgment occur that can lead to false arrests. Police officers may misunderstand cultural issues or stereotype someone in a store. Whatever the issue is, the team at ArborYpsi is prepared to provide all possible defenses to the court that may lead to a dismissal or acquittal of the case.
Juvenile Retail Fraud in Michigan
Some jurisdictions in Michigan have diversion programs that offer relief - or a second chance - to those facing first-time retail fraud charges. These types of programs will remove the case from the court system, providing an alternative means of dealing with these charges without the offender having a permanent criminal record for the offense. Many of these programs have eligibility requirements that vary, but some offer probation, payment of fines, restitution, classes or community service. Hiring an Ann Arbor retail fraud attorney can help juveniles avoid permanent criminal records that can hinder their chances of college admission and gaining future employment.
Different Classifications of Fraud
Retail fraud in Michigan is broken down into three different classifications.
- First Degree Retail Fraud - This is a felony charge where more than $1,000 in merchandise is stolen. Defendants face up to five years in prison or fines up to three times the value of the merchandise (up to $10,000). If someone has a previous retail fraud offense and the stolen value from this offense is more than $200 or they are a repeat offender, prosecutors will seek these charges.
- Organized Retail Fraud - This is a felony charge and is relatively new in Michigan. To qualify for this charge, defendants must have shoplifted with the intent of reselling the goods. This offense is punishable of a fine up to $5,000 and up to five years in jail.
- Second Degree Retail Fraud - This is a misdemeanor charge in which the value of the merchandise is under $200. Defendants can face up to one year in jail or fines up to three times the value of the goods (up to $10,000), whichever is higher. If someone has a previous retail fraud offense and this charge involves merchandise theft of under $200, the defense will usually seek to eliminate these charges.
- Third Degree Retail Fraud - This is a misdemeanor charge, but defendants could face 93 days in jail, including a fine up to three times the merchandise, not to exceed $500.
Our Ann Arbor Retail Fraud Attorney Offers Free Consultations
As an experienced Ann Arbor retail fraud lawyer, Sam Bernstein at ArborYpsi Law will fight for your rights. If you have been charged with retail fraud, contact our office for a free consultation.