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Retail Fraud & Theft Attorney in Michigan

By Daniel T. Geherin

Theft-related charges, including retail fraud or shoplifting, are common in Michigan, and if you’ve been charged, having professional legal counsel on your side is always well advised. The consequences of a conviction are harsh and include social stigma that can have long-lasting repercussions. If you’re facing a theft-related charge, don’t wait to consult with an experienced retail fraud & theft attorney in Michigan

Types of Theft-Related Crimes in Michigan 

Michigan theft laws are wide-ranging. 

Shoplifting in Michigan 

Michigan retail fraud – or shoplifting – refers to engaging in any of the following in an effort to pay less for an item or not to pay for it at all:

●      Altering, removing, replacing, concealing, or in any way misrepresenting the price of an item.

●      Stealing an item.

●      Obtaining or attempting to fraudulently obtain money or store property as a refund or exchange.

Shoplifting charges break down into first-, second-, and third-degree charges that correlate with the amount stolen. 

Larceny refers to stealing property that belongs to another person. Michigan larceny laws categorize crimes involving property values of from $1,000 to $20,000 as felony larceny, and convictions carry 5-year prison sentences – along with fines of up to $5,000. The same is true for shoplifting criminal charges. Below this benchmark value, the Michigan retail fraud charge is a misdemeanor – or a misdemeanor larceny charge – that can lead to jail time and other serious consequences. 

Because criminal charges for shoplifting are a serious matter and the legal consequences of shoplifting convictions are significant, exploring robust defense strategies for retail fraud is key. A seasoned retail fraud and theft attorney in Michigan can help you with that.  

Michigan Theft Laws and Penalties

Michigan theft laws and theft penalties address property crimes related to unlawfully taking or fraudulently converting someone else’s property for one’s own use. Theft and larceny in this context are interchangeable. 

Theft charges and penalties in Michigan break down into misdemeanor and felony charges that are based on the value of the property stolen. 

Misdemeanor Larceny Charges

When the value of the property involved is less than $200, it’s a misdemeanor larceny – or petty theft charge – that carries up to 93 days in jail and fines of up to $500. When the value of the property involved is from $200 to $1,000, the accused faces up to a year behind bars and fines of up to $2,000. 

Felony Larceny Charges

When the value of the property involved is in the range of from $1,000 to $20,000, the related fines and penalties can include a prison sentence of up to 5 years and fines of up to $10,000. There are certain properties that – regardless of their value – are always classified at this felony level, including firearms and certain vehicle parts.  

When the value of the property in question hits or exceeds $20,000, the felony charge carries up to a 10-year prison sentence and fines up to $15,000.  

When the accused has a prior conviction under their belt, the charge in play is bumped up to the next level, which can enhance a misdemeanor theft charge to a felony theft charge. Working closely with a savvy retail fraud and theft attorney in Michigan is the best way to protect your legal rights and resolving your case as favorably as possible.  

Criminal Defense Strategies for Theft-Related Charges 

If you’re accused of a theft-related charge, bringing your strongest defense is paramount, and for that, you should have focused legal guidance in your corner. While the defense strategy you employ in your case will hinge on the unique situation at hand, there are several basic defenses that often apply. 

Proclaiming Your Outright Innocence

Just because you’re accused of theft doesn’t mean you’re guilty of the crime. Sometimes the best defense strategy is the simple truth that you’re innocent. While you’re innocent until proven guilty, your skilled criminal defense attorney will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to prove your innocence, which includes gathering compelling evidence and highlighting the many flaws in the state’s case.  

Challenging Evidence 

The state’s case will be based on evidence, and challenging this evidence can prove highly effective as a defense strategy. This can include disputing the facts involved with evidence of your own, rebutting the prosecution’s expert testimony, casting doubt on their evidentiary specifics, and more. If the evidence against you can’t hold up to rigorous examination, it shouldn’t convict you.  

Identifying Breached Constitutional Rights 

You have constitutional rights that must be upheld, and failure to do so can harm the state’s case against you. These rights include:

●      The right to remain silent

●      The right to an attorney 

●      The right not to be subjected to unlawful search and seizure

The authorities must have probable cause for charging you in the first place, and you’re entitled to fair judicial treatment throughout the legal process. 

Negotiating an Advantageous Plea Deal

With a practiced retail fraud & theft attorney on your side, you’ll be far better positioned to strike a plea deal with the state. Your attorney has developed strong working relationships with the prosecution and has the inside knowledge and legal finesse to strike solid plea deals when it serves their client’s best interests. While plea deals are often advantageous, they’re – nevertheless – an admission of guilt, which means they require careful consideration in the context of your rights and future. 

Importance of Hiring a Retail Fraud & Theft Attorney in Michigan

The impact of a theft conviction on your life can be dramatic and difficult to overcome. One of the most important steps you can take in the protection of your rights and in pursuit of your case's best possible conclusion is reaching out for a dedicated criminal defense lawyer's help. 

Your attorney brings focused knowledge of Michigan’s complex legal system and exacting theft laws to the table and has the insight and resources to help guide your claim effectively and efficiently toward a resolution that supports your brightest future. 

This includes helping to ensure that you avoid the pitfalls that too many defendants fall prey to. For example, the police are very skilled at eliciting statements from interviewees that can lead to theft charges and that can ultimately weaken their ability to defend themselves. By invoking your right to an attorney early on, you protect yourself from this – and many other – traps that the authorities set for defendants. 

The outcome of your theft case is too important to leave to chance – consult with an imposing retail fraud and theft attorney today.  

Consult an Experienced Retail Fraud & Theft Attorney about Your Case Today 

Daniel T. Geherin is the founding and principal attorney at Geherin Law Group and is one of only a handful of Michigan attorneys who are board-certified in criminal law. Our accomplished Michigan criminal defense lawyers take great pride in their impressive track record for fiercely defending the rights of those facing theft charges – and for the beneficial resolutions they achieve. Our skilled legal team is on your side and here to help, so please don’t wait to submit a contact form or call us at 734-263-2780 for more information about what we can do for you today.