Michigan Petty Theft and Other Theft Laws

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Defining Theft Under Michigan Law

Michigan criminal laws refer to the general crime of theft as "larceny." A person commits larceny in Michigan is he or she steals property that belongs to another person, including the following specific types of property:

  • money
  • goods
  • receipts
  • real estate deeds, and
  • public records. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.356(1).)

Classification and Punishment for Larceny in Michigan

Like many states, Michigan classifies theft and larceny offenses as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the dollar value of the property that is the subject of the offense -- and, in some cases, according to the circumstances surrounding the theft. Let’s take a closer look at each level of larceny offense under Michigan’s classification scheme, as well as the punishment at each level.

Misdemeanor Larceny in Michigan. If the property stolen is valued at less than $200, larceny is a misdemeanor under Michigan law (sometimes called "petty larceny" or "petty theft." This level of theft is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days, or a fine of not more than $500.00 or three times the value of the property stolen, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.356(5).)

A person who steals from a store property that is priced at less than $200 (or who alters the price of goods if the resulting difference in price is less than $200) commits 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 or three times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine. (§ 750.356d(4).)

If the property stolen is valued at $200 or more, but less than $1,000, the theft still qualifies as a misdemeanor under Michigan law. This level of theft is punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not more than one year or a fine of not more than $2,000 or three times the value of the property stolen, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine. (§ 750.356(4)(a).)

Likewise, a person who steals from a store property priced at $200 or more, but less than $1,000 (or alters the price of goods if the resulting difference in price is $200 or more but less than $1,000) commits retail fraud in the second degree, a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than one year, or a fine of not more than $2,000 or three times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine. (§ 750.356d(1).)

Felony Theft in Michigan. If the property stolen is valued at $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 -- or if the property is a motor vehicle, trailer, or certain motor vehicle part -- theft is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than five years, or a fine of not more than $10,000 or three times the value of the property stolen, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.356(3), § 750.356a(1).)

A person who steals from a store property priced at $1,000 or more (or alters  the price of goods if the resulting difference in price is $1,000 or more) commits retail fraud in the first degree, a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than five years, or a fine of not more than $10,000 or three times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine. (§ 750.356c(1).)

If the property stolen is valued at $20,000 or more, theft is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than ten years, or a fine of not more than $15,000 or three times the value of the property stolen, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.356(2)(a).)  

Civil Liability for Theft in Michigan

In addition to the criminal penalties described above, a person who commits retail fraud in the first, second, or third degree is civilly liable to the store owner for the full retail price of the stolen property if it is not returned, or if it is not returned in a condition in which it can be resold.  Additionally, the person will be liable for civil damages of ten times the retail price of the property, in an amount not less than $50 and not more than $200. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 600.2953.)

Effect of Previous Convictions on Theft Charge in Michigan

If a person faces a theft charge, and has previous convictions of one or more theft-related offenses in Michigan or elsewhere, the punishment may increase to that of the next most serious theft offense under Michigan law. For instance, if a person faces a theft charge involving property valued at less than $200, but has previous theft convictions, the person will face a sentence of imprisonment of not more than one year, or a fine of not more than $2,000 or three times the value of the property stolen (with no previous convictions, the same person would only face a sentence of no more than 93 days in jail or a $500 fine, or both). (Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.356(4)(b), (5).) 

by: , J.D.

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