Macomb County Retail Fraud – In Michigan, if a person is caught shoplifting, that person will be charged with what is called Retail Fraud. Retail fraud, can have drastic consequences on a person’s career path if the crime is placed on his or her criminal record. Michigan retail fraud cases can affect your employment because potential or current employers will be hesitant to employ someone with a conviction for theft and/or dishonesty. While the crime itself may not seem serious, the consequences of a conviction are far reaching.
A Macomb County Retail Fraud may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony
In a Macomb County retail fraud case, whether a person is charged with a felony or misdemeanor depends upon the monetary value of the property stolen or history of retail fraud convctions.
First Degree Retail Fraud (Felony): A person who, while a store is open to the public, 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, if the resulting difference in price is $1,000.00 or more.
Penalty: Up to maximum 5 years in prison and/or fine up to $10,000 or 3 times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine. MCL 750.356c
Second Degree Retail Fraud (1 year misdemeanor): A person who, while a store is open to the public, 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 if the resulting difference in price is $200.00 or more but less than $1,000.00.
Penalty: Up to but not more than 1 year in jail or a fine of not more than $2,000.00 or 3 times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine.
Retail Fraud Third-Degree (93 day misdemeanor): A person who, while a store is open to the public, 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, if the resulting difference in price is less than $200.00.
Penalties: Up to but not more than 93 days in jail or a fine of not more than $500.00 or 3 times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine.
What to Expect in Macomb County Retail Fraud Cases
Most Third-Degree Macomb County Retail fraud cases handled by CZARNECKI & TAYLOR (if the person does not have a prior retail fraud conviction) result in the following:
- a dismissal of the charge if probation is successfully completed pursuant to MCL 771.1
- repayment of restitution if the items have not been recovered
- a term of probation with reasonable conditions
- no jail time
Although no criminal lawyer can guarantee the outcome in any given case, we have been able to achieve these results for our clients with no criminal history of retail fraud or even a criminal history that does not involve retail fraud.
Second-Degree Retail Fraud: These cases are generally more serious since the property stolen has increased in value. However, while the severity of the offense has increased, these cases can often be negotiated during the plea process. In our experience the following occurs:
- upon repayment of restitution (if applicable) the charge may be reduced to a 93 day misdemeanor
- the conviction may be able to be withheld from a person’s criminal history (if HYTA applies)
- term of probation
- jail time is unlikely
First-Degree Retail Fraud: The most serious of retail fraud cases either because of the monetary value of the items stolen or the individual has become a habitual perpetrator of retail frauds. These cases are more difficult to negotiate because of their severity. Again, however, depending upon the circumstances of the case, the following may occur:
- reduction of the charge from felony to misdemeanor upon repayment of restitution, if applicable
- term of probation
- jail time is unlikely (in Oakland County jail time does become a more significant possibility)
- a chance, if HYTA applies, to keep the conviction off of the criminal history
Why do most Macomb County retail fraud crimes occur?
It has been our experience that a Macomb County retail fraud, at least regarding third-degree retail fraud, is a combination of opportunity and a decision based on impulse. In our experience, many honest and hard-working people have engaged in impulse decision-making.
In the Macomb County area, most of the retail fraud cases originate at Lakeside Mall, Meijer, JC Penney, Home Depot and Target. In the over a thousand of police reports that we have reviewed most cases are the result of an impulsive decision to take a small item. We have represented people of all ages, from juveniles to 87 year old grandmother.
Retail fraud cases are sometimes the result of a mental health issue. In many of the retail fraud cases that our office has handled, the people have had the money to pay for the item. Shoplifting can be an addiction similar to drugs or alcohol. Before we negotiate the case, we assist our clients with finding treatment for impulse control or shoplifting disorder. We present evidence of treatment to the courts to mitigate the severity of the charges or the sentence.
Some of our clients have committed a retail fraud out of necessity. Hunger had prompted a mother to take food items from Kroger in an effort to feed her children. One single mother had taken baby formula from Walgreen’s to provide for her newborn.
A large portion of our clients regarding retail fraud cases are people under the age of 21. Their decision to commit a retail fraud is often the result of immaturity. When we explain that the cost of hiring an attorney, being placed on probation, paying fines and costs, and time spent in court far exceed the price of the item stolen, the young offender usually has an eye-opening experience. This is especially true when we explain that a retail fraud can damage their future career aspirations. We have explained that a $12.00 item is not worth a career and future.
Lastly, some individuals commit retail fraud to provide for a substance abuse issue. If that is the situation, we educate the client on the various programs that will help assist him or her with an addiction. By addressing the underlying addiction, future retail fraud cases and convictions can be avoided in the future. Macomb County Possession of Heroin
There is no doubt that retail stores make every effort to prevent retail fraud by employing loss prevention personnel and investigating in video surveillance equipment. To that end, retail stores actively prosecute these cases no matter the explanation or reason.
What should you do if you are charged with retail fraud?
Because an attorney can usually negotiate the cases to reach a preferred outcome and even avoid a conviction, you should hire a criminal defense lawyer. You want to discuss and explore all of your legal options. Since a retail fraud conviction can have drastic consequences on a career or employment, you should always consult with a lawyer.
Macomb County Retail Fraud Lawyers
At CZARNECKI & TAYLOR we are very familiar with all of the courts in the Macomb County area. We appear in each court every week so we know what to expect from retail fraud cases.
Retail fraud is one of the most commonly committed crimes in Macomb County. Since our office has had extensive experience in this area of the law, we have been able to resolve these cases favorably for our clients. In many instances we can achieve a dismissal. With experienced counsel at your side protecting your future, most cases of retail fraud are manageable.
Contact our office at any time to discuss a retail fraud case further. While this article explains the basics of a retail fraud case in Macomb County, each case is dependent upon particular facts. Each case is different which is why you should consult with an attorney to get information as to what you should expect to happen in your case.
You can reach us 24-7/365.
JAMES E. CZARNECKI II (586) 718-2345
GENEVIEVE L. TAYLOR (586) 350-6044