Written by attorney Jonathan Andrew Paul

FAQ: Shoplifting in Michigan

Am I going to jail for Retail Fraud in Michigan? Do I need to hire a lawyer for my shoplifting case?

In Michigan, shoplifting is called Retail Fraud, which has three different levels. Retail Fraud in the Third Degree is a theft under $200, Retail Fraud in Second Degree is a theft between $200 and $1000, and Retail Fraud in First Degree is a theft over $1000. These crimes all carry varying jail terms from 93 days to multiple years behind bars.

In order to be found guilty of retail fraud, the prosecution must show that you took some property that the store offered for sale, you moved the property (any movement is enough. It does not matter whether the defendant actually got the property past the cashier or out of the store), you intended to steal the property (intended to steal means that the defendant intended to permanently take the property from the store without the store's consent), this happened either inside the store or in the immediate area around the store, while the store was open to the public, and the property had some value.

As for going to jail, it depends on your criminal record; if you're a first offender, you may be eligible for a first offender program, which could keep a conviction off of your criminal record. As a first offender, you stand a better chance of avoiding jail, but there is always the possibility that a judge could decide jail is appropriate in your case. Speak to your attorney about your criminal history, and the possibility of a first offender program before proceeding.

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