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Grand Rapids Shoplifting Lawyer

Although many people believe that shoplifting charges are nominal criminal offenses, a conviction for theft-related charges in Michigan can be damaging to your reputation, impact your employment opportunities – especially jobs in the financial and retail industry – and will be included on your criminal record, or create a criminal record, if one does not exist, which could impact other areas of your life, such as securing housing and child custody.

If you have been charged with shoplifting, it is important to contact a knowledgeable Grand Rapids shoplifting attorney that will assess your case and provide you with options for handling the matter. A skilled theft defense attorney is your best asset in building a strong defense to your charges.

Shoplifting Charges

Shoplifting charges can result in an individual being penalized criminally and in civil court. In Grand Rapids, shoplifting is classified as a larceny crime, known as retail fraud.

It is defined as removing or altering price tags, removing a product from a retail establishment, and attempting to receive, or receiving, a refund or an exchange for merchandise that was not purchased, with intent to deceive the business.

A person that is convicted of shoplifting in Grand Rapids can be criminally punished with both fines and incarcerations. Additionally, individuals that are convicted of shoplifting may be sued in civil court by the merchant making it important that a Grand Rapids shoplifting lawyer is contacted right away.

Felony vs. Misdemeanors

The theft of goods from a retail establishment that exceeds $1,000 or exceeds $200, when there is a prior conviction, constitutes retail fraud in the first degree, which is a felony offense. It is punishable by fines up to $10,000 or three times the value of the item(s) taken and up to five years’ imprisonment.

If the value of the item taken is valued at less than $1,000, but more than $200, and the accused has no prior convictions, they may be charged with retail fraud in the second degree. It is a misdemeanor offense that is punishable by a fine up to $2,000 or three times the value of the item(s) taken and up to one year in jail making it extremely important that a Grand Rapids shoplifting lawyer is consulted.

When the value of the retail theft is less than $200 and the accused has no prior convictions for shoplifting, the retail theft may be charged as a retail fraud in the third degree. It is also a misdemeanor offense, which is punishable with a fine that does not exceed $500 or three times the value of the item(s) taken and three months’ incarceration.

Civil Litigation

In addition to any criminal penalties that are imposed on a person that is convicted of retail fraud, they may also be liable to the merchant, as long as the individual is 18 years old or a minor that has been emancipated. In civil court, the business may be entitled to a damage award, which is intended to compensate the business for its losses, as a result of the theft, and the value of the item or the price of the item.

Contact a Grand Rapids Shoplifting Attorney

After being charged with retail fraud, an individual should immediately contact a Grand Rapids shoplifting attorney, with experience handling shoplifting cases in the jurisdiction in which the individual is charged.

Contacting an attorney will increase an individual’s chances of getting a more favorable outcome because an experienced shoplifting attorney in Grand Rapids can prepare the accused to speak with police officers, which can, ultimately, impact what, if any charges are filed.