750.356c and 750.356d; Retail Fraud

Retail fraud involves attempting to steal goods or merchandise available for sale to the general public from a store or establishment during the hours it is open for business. Retail fraud may be accomplished when an individual switches price tags on items in order to get a cheaper price, or returns a product to an establishment in order to get a refund, even if the item was not purchased at the store/establishment. While retail fraud may involve physically stealing merchandise from a store, this is not the only method of stealing which will leave the accused facing criminal charges.

In Michigan, retail fraud in the first degree is a felony offense; retail fraud in the second and third degrees are typically charged as misdemeanors. An extremely common crime, individuals convicted of retail fraud may face punishment, which includes fines, jail/prison time, and more. Retail fraud in the first degree is the most serious charge, although second- and third-degree retail fraud are also serious offenses.

Punishment for Retail Fraud in Michigan

A conviction for first-degree retail fraud will leave the defendant facing a maximum of five years in prison, along with fines of up to $10,000 or three times the value of the stolen goods. A person may also be charged with retail fraud in the first degree if the crime they commit is actually considered retail fraud in the second degree, but have a prior retail fraud conviction.

Anyone found guilty of second-degree retail fraud will face criminal penalties that include a maximum of one year in jail and fines of up to $2,000 or three times the value of the stolen goods. A person may also be charged with second-degree retail fraud when he/she commits third-degree retail fraud, but has a prior retail fraud conviction.

Third-degree retail fraud results in penalties that include a maximum of 93 days in jail and fines of up to $500, or three times the value of the stolen goods.

First-degree retail fraud involves the theft of property valued at $1,000 or more. Second-degree retail fraud involves the theft of property valued between $200 and $1,000, and third-degree property valued at less than $200.

Other Consequences of Being Charged with Retail Fraud

Individuals who are found guilty of any retail fraud offense will have a criminal record, which will impact employment opportunities, financing, housing, and more.

Experience Against Retail Fraud and Shoplifting

The criminal defense team at Grabel & Associates has substantial experience and an outstanding track record defending individuals accused of theft and/or larceny crimes, including Retail Fraud and Shoplifting. We have enjoyed a great level of success defending clients accused of these types of crimes, often getting results including acquittals or dismissal of charges; we have also had clients' convictions overturned on appeal on numerous occasions.

Best Retail Fraud Defenses

There are a variety of defenses, which may be effective in defending individuals charged with retail fraud or shoplifting. Unfortunately, some individuals have an addictive behavior, similar to those who use drugs or alcohol; even though they have the money to purchase goods, they cannot resist the temptation to steal. In such cases, it may be beneficial to work toward resolution of the mental health issue and attempt to avoid jail time or other harsh penalties. In other cases, the element of intent necessary to prove a retail fraud case may be missing. Regardless of the circumstances, our firm provides an aggressive, effective defense. In addition, individuals who have been found guilty of a crime may wish to seek post-conviction relief or appeal their conviction.

THE MICHIGAN PENAL CODE (EXCERPT)
Act 328 of 1931

750.356c Retail fraud in first degree.

(1) A person who does any of the following in a store or in its immediate vicinity is guilty of retail fraud in the first degree, a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years or a fine of not more than $10,000.00 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:

(a) 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.

(b) While a store is open to the public, steals property of the store that is offered for sale at a price of $1,000.00 or more.

(c) With intent to defraud, obtains or attempts to obtain money or property from the store as a refund or exchange for property that was not paid for and belongs to the store, if the amount of money or the value of the property obtained or attempted to be obtained is $1,000.00 or more.

(2) A person who violates section 356d(1) and who has 1 or more prior convictions for committing or attempting to commit an offense under this section or section 218, 356, 356d(1), or 360 is guilty of retail fraud in the first degree. For purposes of this subsection, however, a prior conviction does not include a conviction for a violation or attempted violation of section 218(2) or (3)(b) or section 356(4)(b) or (5).

(3) The values of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained in separate incidents pursuant to a scheme or course of conduct within any 12-month period may be aggregated to determine the total value involved in the offense under this section.

(4) If the prosecuting attorney intends to seek an enhanced sentence based upon the defendant having 1 or more prior convictions, the prosecuting attorney shall include on the complaint and information a statement listing the prior conviction or convictions. The existence of the defendant's prior conviction or convictions shall be determined by the court, without a jury, at sentencing or at a separate hearing for that purpose before sentencing. The existence of a prior conviction may be established by any evidence relevant for that purpose, including, but not limited to, 1 or more of the following:

(a) A copy of the judgment of conviction.

(b) A transcript of a prior trial, plea-taking, or sentencing.

(c) Information contained in a presentence report.

(d) The defendant's statement.

(5) A person who commits retail fraud in the first degree shall not be prosecuted under section 218(5) or 356(2).

(6) If the sentence for a conviction under this section is enhanced by 1 or more prior convictions, those prior convictions shall not be used to further enhance the sentence for the conviction pursuant to section 10, 11, or 12 of chapter IX of the code of criminal procedure, 1927 PA 175, MCL 769.10, 769.11, and 769.12.

History: Add. 1988, Act 20, Eff. June 1, 1988 ;-- Am. 1998, Act 311, Eff. Jan. 1, 1999

THE MICHIGAN PENAL CODE (EXCERPT)
Act 328 of 1931

750.356d Retail fraud in second or third degree.

(1) A person who does any of the following in a store or in its immediate vicinity is guilty of retail fraud in the second degree, a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year 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:

(a) 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.

(b) While a store is open to the public, steals property of the store that is offered for sale at a price of $200.00 or more but less than $1,000.00.

(c) With intent to defraud, obtains or attempts to obtain money or property from the store as a refund or exchange for property that was not paid for and belongs to the store if the amount of money or the value of the property obtained or attempted to be obtained is $200.00 or more but less than $1,000.00.

(2) A person who violates subsection (4) and who has 1 or more prior convictions for committing or attempting to commit an offense under this section, section 218, 356, 356c, or 360, or a local ordinance substantially corresponding to this section or section 218, 356, 356c, or 360 is guilty of retail fraud in the second degree.

(3) A person who commits retail fraud in the second degree shall not be prosecuted under section 360.

(4) A person who does any of the following in a store or in its immediate vicinity is guilty of retail fraud in the third degree, a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days 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:

(a) 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.

(b) While a store is open to the public, steals property of the store that is offered for sale at a price of less than $200.00.

(c) With intent to defraud, obtains or attempts to obtain money or property from the store as a refund or exchange for property that was not paid for and belongs to the store, if the amount of money, or the value of the property, obtained or attempted to be obtained is less than $200.00.

(5) A person who commits retail fraud in the third degree shall not be prosecuted under section 360.

(6) The values of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained in separate incidents pursuant to a scheme or course of conduct within any 12-month period may be aggregated to determine the total value involved in the offense under this section.

(7) If the prosecuting attorney intends to seek an enhanced sentence based upon the defendant having 1 or more prior convictions, the prosecuting attorney shall include on the complaint and information a statement listing the prior conviction or convictions. The existence of the defendant's prior conviction or convictions shall be determined by the court, without a jury, at sentencing or at a separate hearing for that purpose before sentencing. The existence of a prior conviction may be established by any evidence relevant for that purpose, including, but not limited to, 1 or more of the following:

(a) A copy of the judgment of conviction.

(b) A transcript of a prior trial, plea-taking, or sentencing.

(c) Information contained in a presentence report.

(d) The defendant's statement.

History: Add. 1988, Act 20, Eff. June 1, 1988; -- Am. 1998, Act 311, Eff. Jan. 1, 1999