Shoplifting Charges in Michigan

Learn about the laws, penalties and civil consequences of a shoplifting charge in Michigan. Find out if you can avoid a conviction and criminal record.

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Shoplifting is treated as a serious crime by Michigan law, with convicted shoplifters facing potential jail time and fines. Shoplifters also can be sued by merchants in civil court for damages.

Michigan Shoplifting Laws

Shoplifting is categorized as retail fraud (a type of larceny) under Michigan law (M.C.L.A. 750.356(c-d)). Retail fraud is committed when a person alters or removes price tags, steals property, or obtains or attempts to receive a refund or exchange for unpurchased store merchandise, with the intent to defraud the merchant. Criminal penalties for retail fraud include possible jail time and fines. Those who commit retail fraud may also be sued by the victimized merchants in civil court for damages.  Criminal and civil penalties for retail fraud are described below.

Shoplifting Criminal Penalties

Charge

Classification

Penalty

Retail fraud in the third degree: theft of goods valued at less than $200 with no prior convictions

Misdemeanor

Up to 93 days of jail time and/or a fine equal to the greater of $500 or three times the value of stolen goods

Retail fraud in the second degree: theft of goods valued between $200 and $1,000, or theft of goods valued at less than $200 with a prior conviction

Misdemeanor

Up to one year of jail time and/or a fine equal to the greater of $2,000 or three times the value of stolen goods

Retail fraud in the first degree: theft of goods valued at $1,000 or more or theft of goods valued at $200 or more with a prior conviction

Felony

Up to five years of jail time and/or a fine equal to the greater of $10,000 or three times the value of stolen goods

Civil Liability

Merchants can sue an adult or emancipated minor shoplifter (or the parents of an unemancipated minor shoplifter) in civil court for damages and penalties. Merchants are entitled to damages equal to the retail price of goods not recovered in sellable condition, as well as damages equal to 10 times the retail price of the stolen property (with a minimum of $50 and maximum of $200).

Diversion Programs and Plea Bargains

Pretrial diversion programs may be available to certain individuals accused of first-time or low-level crimes. Diversion programs allow the accused to avoid criminal conviction by completing specific requirements, such as making restitution and undergoing a probationary period, after which the criminal charges will be dropped.

If diversion programs are not an option, the accused may try to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor assigned to the case. Plea bargains usually involve the accused receiving reduced charges or lighter sentencing in exchange for a guilty plea. Plea bargains are available at the discretion of the prosecutor.

Learn more about diversion and pretrial options.

Getting Legal Help

Shoplifting charges can result in serious consequences, including large fines and jail time. If you have been accused of shoplifting in Michigan, it is imperative that you consult with a qualified and experienced attorney who can provide you with advice on how best to proceed to minimize the consequences you face, including exploring diversion programs, raising defenses, and negotiating plea bargains.

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