Retail Fraud, Third Degree

Loss and theft prevention is a big issue for retailers. Stores, especially larger chains, often have advanced surveillance, loss-prevention employees, and train their staff in techniques designed to deter or minimize losses from theft. However, even with all of these measures, theft offenses still cost larger retailers millions of dollars in losses and these cases still comprise a significant portion of a local court’s misdemeanor docket.

“Retail Fraud, Third Degree”, MCL 750.356 (5), MCL 750.356d (4) is often charged against people who allegedly “shop-lift” merchandise from merchants and retailers when the value of the allegedly stolen merchandise is under $200.00. This offense may also be charged as some variation based on a local municipal ordinance; however, the possible maximum punishments are often similar.

This is a misdemeanor punishable upon conviction by up to ninety-three days in jail, “a fine of not more than $500.00 or 3 times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater,” MCL 750.356 (5), MCL 750.356d (4) costs, restitution, probation up to two years, or other sanctions at the court’s discretion.

In general terms, this particular charge, MCL 750.356 (5), MCL 750.356d (4) is the least severe of the theft offenses that will be discussed in later posts. However, it is considered a “crime against dishonesty,” and as a theft offense, there are collateral consequences that go well beyond the courts if a person is convicted of this charge.

As noted in the Michigan Rules of Evidence, convictions involving a “crime against dishonesty,” may be used against someone by an opposing lawyer if they ever testify in another court-proceeding to attack their credibility.

A conviction for this type of charge, for example, may also impact a person’s ability to find work in certain fields. A lot of employers, especially those professions involving the financial industry, may be deeply concerned about an applicant or employee if they have this type of conviction on their record.

If convicted, as a misdemeanor, it could stay on a person’s record for a long period of time.

However, certain people, especially younger alleged offenders between the ages of 17-20 who are interested in potentially pleading guilty may be eligible for diversionary programs such the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (see MCL 762.11-762.16), which, if completed, could keep a conviction from being entered in their public record. Diversionary programs often require probation and generally need to be negotiated through the plea-bargaining process prior to any trials.

If you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances, we encourage you to privately consult with a lawyer. Our office frequently handles this types of matters. For a free initial consultation, please contact us at (517) 507-5077.