What is First-Degree Retail Fraud?

Retail fraud is the legal charge for the act most known as shoplifting.

For second-degree retail fraud in Michigan, the key element is that the property at issue is over $1,000. Property worth a different amount could be charged as First or Third Degree Retail Fraud.

A person could also be charged with first-degree retail fraud where the person has a previous conviction for retail fraud in the second degree, as well as certain other theft-related offenses specified by the statute.

A major difference between first-degree retail fraud and retail fraud in the second or third degrees is that first degree retail fraud is a felony, while the other two are misdemeanors.

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. Below is the definition of permanently deprive:

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 First 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 750.356c

What Does This Mean Exactly?

Retail fraud is more than the traditional idea of shoplifting. Retail fraud could include fraudulent store returns or price-switching. Consult with a lawyer to determine whether the charge falls under the category of retail fraud.

Penalties for Retail Fraud in the First-Degree

This charge is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 5 years in prison, jail, a $10,000 fine, or 3 times the value of the property taken, or prison and a fine.

Retail Fraud is a Matter of Degrees

A person could also be charged with

Charged with Retail Fraud? Call us at 734.883.9584 for Representation.

Call Sam Bernstein at 734.883.9584 or e-mail at bernstein@arborypsilaw.com.

Sam Bernstein is a Criminal Defense Attorney based in Ann Arbor, MI.

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

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