Theft and Property Crimes Attorneys in Michigan
No one likes to be called a thief. Being charged with a theft or property crime can be a traumatic experience. Unfortunately, it can be all too easy to find yourself wrongly accused. You accidentally forgot to scan the last item in your grocery cart. Or maybe you made an accounting error at work. Although you know you’re innocent, don’t expect the prosecutor to take your word for it. You’ll need a defense attorney that understands property and theft crimes in your corner.
To be sure, not all our cases are false accusations. Plenty of our cases can be classified as “momentary lapses of judgment.” Maybe you thought that the department store wouldn’t miss just one shirt. Or maybe you thought your employer wouldn’t notice those few dollars missing from the books. One mistake doesn’t need to ruin your life, though. A criminal defense attorney can help you keep your record clean and you out of jail. Read what our clients say about us and our proven results.
Here are some common theft and property crimes that we see here at Grabel & Associates.
Will I go to jail for a theft or property crime in Michigan?
Yes, there is always the possibility that you will go to jail for a theft or property crime in Michigan. Even third-degree retail fraud (shoplifting items worth less than $200) is punishable by up to 93 days in jail. That said, for minor theft crimes like these, especially for first-time offenders, the odds of doing any jail time are negligible. In fact, in many cases it will be possible to obtain a deferral, so a conviction never goes on your record. Long story short, for first-time nonviolent misdemeanor theft and property crimes, jail time is unlikely.
For felony theft and property crimes, prognosticating potential jail time becomes more difficult. Any time physical force is used to accomplish the crime (e.g., breaking and entering), the odds of jail time increase. But for nonviolent “white collar” crimes such as embezzlement, it will often—but not always—be possible to work out a no-jail deal with the prosecutor. This will usually be premised on you agreeing to pay full restitution to the victim. Still, the outcome of any theft or property crime will depend on the specifics of your case.
Can I get my theft or property crime charge dismissed in Michigan?
Yes, it may be possible to get your theft or property crime charge dismissed. There are several defenses that can apply in these cases.
First, did you intend to steal the items? For theft crimes, the prosecution needs to prove that you intended to take the items knowing that they did not belong to you. So if you inadvertently walked past the register without paying for that last item in your cart, you are not liable for any crime.
Similarly, you may have had a claim of right to the items. That is, you took the property honestly believing that you had a legal right to it. If that’s the case, you will not be criminally liable. This defense can apply even if it later turns out you that you were mistaken about your claim of right.
With white collar crimes, the alleged misappropriations may be due to accounting errors rather than malfeasance. Just like with any other theft crime, the prosecution must prove that you had the intent to take property knowing that it did not belong to you. If your accounting mistake was innocent or, at worst, negligent, you will not be on the hook for a crime.
These are some of the most common defenses we see in our theft and property crime cases. There may be others that apply under the specific facts of your case.
Retail Fraud (aka Shoplifting)
We see a lot of retail fraud cases. In Michigan, retail fraud charges range from first-degree (most serious) to third-degree (least serious) depending on the value of the property you allegedly stole. Some of these cases are based on simple misunderstandings. Maybe you put an item in your purse intending to pay for it but forgot about it by the time you got to the checkout. Some cases, though, are simply regrettable mistakes. Either way, we can help you prove your innocence or else make sure a mistake doesn’t result in jail time and a permanent criminal record.
Most embezzlement cases involve employees stealing money that was entrusted to them by their employer. This is usually regarded as a so-called “white collar crime.” We often see accountants and bookkeepers charged in these cases. Sometimes, embezzlement accusations are simply accounting errors that get misconstrued or blown out of proportion. Even so, you’ll need a defense attorney to prove it.
Credit Card Fraud
If you take someone’s credit card without their permission, you can be charged with credit card fraud, sometimes called “stealing a financial transaction device.” You can be charged even if you never used the credit card.
Forging a check is commonly referred to as “uttering and publishing” in Michigan. Each case is unique, and some can get quite complicated. You’ll need a criminal defense attorney to explore potential defenses you might have.
Everyone has heard of identity theft. But what exactly does it mean? In Michigan, it generally means using someone else’s personal identifying information (usually a driver’s license) to obtain money, goods, or services. Given the widespread cultural fear of identity theft, prosecutors aggressively pursue these cases.
Larceny is, very simply, stealing someone’s property. The most common version we see is larceny in a building, i.e., stealing something from a building. This is a felony offense that carries up to four years in prison. As you’ll see, you can be charged with a more serious crime depending on the circumstances of the alleged theft.
Also referred to in common parlance as burglary, home invasion is exactly what is sounds like—invading someone’s home. It’s divided into three degrees depending on the seriousness of the conduct. Each degree, though, is a felony. It’s distinguished from larceny in that it generally involves breaking and entering with the intent to commit another crime once you get inside. Home invasion charges are taken very seriously by prosecutors. If you’re accused or charged with home invasion, contact an experience criminal defense attorney.
In Michigan, “robbery” generally involves taking money or property from someone using force or the threat of force. If you do it without a weapon, it’s unarmed robbery. Your run-of-the-mill purse snatcher will be an unarmed robber. An unarmed felony charge is a felony and can land you in serious trouble.
Armed robbery is just like unarmed robbery except—you guessed it—the person used a weapon to accomplish the robbery. In Michigan, armed robbery is a capital offense, meaning it’s punishable by up to life in prison. Prosecutors pursue these charges vigorously. You’ll need to consult a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Joyriding—sounds fun, doesn’t it? Not if you’re charged with it. Joyriding, as it is defined in Michigan, means to take someone’s car without permission but without the intent to permanently steal it. It’s common to see teenagers and young adults charged with this offense. It’s what’s known as a high court misdemeanor, meaning it’s technically a misdemeanor but punishable by up to two years in prison.
Unlawfully Driving Away and Automobile (UDAA) (aka Auto Theft)
Sometimes called grand theft auto, this is another one that pretty much explains itself. If you take a car and drive it away without the owner’s authority, you may be on the hook for UDAA, a felony. But if you took the car without intending to permanently steal it, you may be eligible for a reduction to joyriding.
Distinguished from UDAA, carjacking is stealing a car while the occupants are still in it. The victims in these cases are often very sympathetic, and prosecutors are—understandably—not lenient when it comes to carjacking. Like armed robbery, it’s a capital offense punishable by up to life in prison. But often issues arise about whether the victims have correctly identified that carjacker.
Receiving and concealing stolen property
What if you didn’t actually steal anything, but you bought or accepted something from another person knowing it was stolen? You could be liable for receiving and concealing stolen property. If the property is worth more than $1,000, it’s a felony. Most of these cases revolve around whether the person who bought or accepted the property knew that it was stolen. The assistance of a criminal defense attorney is essential.
In any theft or property crime case, there are a lot of different aspects to consider. Without giving away too much of our strategy in these cases, here are just some of the things we’ll be looking at in your case:
- Did you intend to permanently steal the property?
- Is an alleged misappropriation attributable to an accounting error rather than an intentional theft?
- Did you have permission to take the money or property?
- Did witnesses accurately identify the perpetrator?
Lawyer for Theft and Property Crime Charges in Michigan
If you need a lawyer in Michigan for any of the following property crime or theft charges, Grabel & Associates can provide the best possible defense:
- Auto Theft, UDAA
- Armed Robbery
- Credit Card Theft
- Check Forgery
- Federal Charges
- Identity Theft
- Retail Fraud/Shoplifting
- Unarmed Robbery
- Home Invasion
- Larceny from a Building
Contact Us Right Away
If you’re accused or charged in a theft or property crimes case, you need a criminal defense attorney on your side. Contact us online or call us at our 24/7 defense hotline at 1-800-342-7896.