It can be difficult to know what to do if accused of shoplifting. You may be feeling embarrassed, worried or even angry. Many think of shoplifting as a trivial offense, but you cannot afford to think that way if accused of it. The consequences can be severe and long-lasting.
Here’s what you need to know about retail fraud, as Michigan calls it.
Is retail fraud a felony or misdemeanor?
In Michigan, there is first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree retail fraud:
- First-degree: The theft of anything over $1000, whether through concealing goods, altering the price, or misrepresenting the price. First-degree shoplifting is considered a felony and may be punishable by up to 5 years in prison, a fine of $10,000 (or three times the value of stolen goods), or both.
- Second-degree: The theft of items between $200 and $1,000. It is considered a misdemeanor, which may result in a year in jail, a $2,000 fine, or three times the stolen item’s value) or both.
- Third-degree: A misdemeanor where the value of the stolen goods is less than $200. Sentencing may include up to 93 days in jail, a fine of $500 (or three times the value of the stolen goods), or both.
If this is not the first offense, shoplifting is considered a felony, no matter the amount of the goods. In addition to jail time and a fine, the store may also sue for civil damages.
Aside from the financial consequences and jail time, a criminal record can have serious implications for your future. Finding someone who can help you understand your defense options will be crucial.