Skip to Content

Retail fraud is the legal term for the criminal charge commonly known as shoplifting.

For second-degree retail fraud in Michigan, the key element is that the property at issue is between $200 – $1,000. Property worth a different amount could be charged as First or Third Degree Retail Fraud. A person could also be charged with second-degree retail fraud where the person has a previous conviction for retail fraud in the third degree.

What Does Retail Fraud Mean?

To be convicted of retail fraud, a person must

  • Take property that a store offers for sale,
  • Move the property. Any movement is enough. It does not matter if the person took the property out of the store or just past the cashier,
  • Have the intent to steal. To “steal” means the person intended to permanently take the property from the store without the store’s consent,
  • This must happen either inside the store or within the area of the store, while the store was open to the public, and
  • As mentioned above, the property in question must have a value between $200 and $1,000 for the charge to be second-degree retail fraud.

What Does Permanently Deprive Mean?

A person who steals has the intent to permanently deprive the owner of property. This is a legal phrase which has an expanded meaning.

To permanently deprive means a person

  • Withholds property or causes it to be withheld from the store permanently, or at least for a period of time that the store loses a significant part of its value, benefit, or use, or
  • Gets rid of the property in a way the store is unlikely to get it back, or
  • Keeps the property with the intent to only give it back if the owner buys or leases it back, or pays a reward for it, or
  • Gives, sells, or transfers any interest in the property, or
  • Makes the property subject to the claim of a person that is not the store’s owner.

The Retail Fraud Second Degree Statute

The statute for retail fraud defines the different ways a person can steal from a store in a shoplifting scenario. The statute lists where a person “alters, transfers, removes and replaces, conceals, or otherwise misrepresents the price at which property is offered for sale with the intent not to pay for the property or to pay less than the price at which the property is offered for sale.” MCL 750.356d(1).

What Does This Mean Exactly?

This means retail fraud covers more activities than simply putting a candy bar in your pocket and walking out of the store without paying. Retail fraud includes situations where a person switches an item’s price tag with a different price tag. Or where a person takes a piece of unpaid property and makes a return of the property. There may be other situations as well.

Penalties for Second-Degree Retail Fraud

This charge is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail, a $2,000 fine, or 3 times the value of the property taken, or both jail and a fine.

Retail Fraud is Defined by Degrees

A person could also be charged with

Charged with Retail Fraud? 

Call Sam Bernstein at 734-883-9584 or e-mail at

Sam Bernstein is a Criminal Attorney in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.