Michigan Criminal Law: Theft/Larceny Crimes, Uttering & Publishing

Uttering & Publishing

Financial crimes and theft offenses are a significant portion of a typical Michigan court’s criminal docket. Financial transactions are conducted through a variety of methods, and most of those methods are typically regulated by the Federal and State government. In particular, checks, notes, and other negotiable instruments are vital components in this process. Michigan’s Forgery & Counterfeiting section of the penal code, MCL 750.48 et. al. is broad in scope and encompasses a wide variety of financial transaction devices.

In particular, Uttering & Publishing, MCL 750.249, is the title of a felony that is frequently charged against people who seek to fraudulently present checks, money-orders, or other negotiable instruments. As noted in MCL 750.249 (1);
“A person who utters and publishes as true a false, forged, altered, or counterfeit record, instrument, or other writing listed in section 248 knowing it to be false, altered, forged, or counterfeit with intent to injure or defraud is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 14 years.”

If, for example, someone alters or presents a false account number of a check and presents it for payment, they may be charged with this offense. There are a lot of very sophisticated check-writing programs out there. It is not particularly complicated to forge a check.

Further, people who steal checks and try to cash them are often charged with Uttering & Publishing as well. There are numerous potential examples and variations of alleged behavior which could trigger this charge because the statutory language is broadly interpreted.

Uttering & Publishing is classified as an “E” class, for the purposes of Michigan’s sentencing guidelines. This means that in terms of the guidelines, the possible minimum sentences and maximum minimum sentences are lower than higher classified felonies with a similar maximum penalty. The possible penalty ranges for Uttering & Publishing are comparable to people who get convicted of certain types of felonies punishable by up to five years in prison. For more information on Michigan’s sentencing guidelines, please click here.

This specific classification, in terms of the penalty ranges, was probably done by design. The facts behind this type of charge are often non-violent. Anecdotally, it seems that this is the type of charge that involves a significant percentage of people who are financially desperate due to addiction, family pressures, or other stress; but with little prior criminal history. Of course, there are plenty of people with terrible records who have been convicted of this charge as well. However, given the unique type of alleged behavior and the broadly worded statute, anecdotally, there seems to be a higher population of people involved with this type of charge, in comparison to other serious felony charges, who otherwise, have no experience with the criminal justice system.

Restitution is often a big issue with these charges. It makes sense that the Michigan legislature would provide courts with more flexible mechanisms to better allow convicted individuals the opportunity to work and pay off their restitution. Sentences for Uttering & Publishing tend to be considerably more lenient than other felonies punishable by ten years or more in prison because of how it is classified.

However, is still a significant felony charge with a maximum possible penalty, without habituals, of up to fourteen years in prison. See MCL 750.249. Even with the lower classification, people do go to prison if they are convicted of this charge, depending on their alleged facts and prior criminal history.

As a theft offense, there are collateral consequences that go well beyond the courts if a person is convicted of this charge. A conviction for this type of charge, for example, may bar someone from working in certain professions or make it nearly impossible to find employment.

Uttering & Publishing is also considered a “crime against dishonesty.” 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.

Other examples of “crimes against dishonesty” include, among others, retail fraud, first degree, embezzlement, or other similar charges.

Our experienced trial attorneys fight hard for our Michigan clients. We represent clients statewide and have proven ourselves with excellent results for past clients who were charged with a litany of different theft offenses. For a free initial consultation, feel free to contact us at (517) 507-5077.

For information Michigan’s Armed Robbery Charge, click here.
For information on Michigan’s Unarmed Robbery charge, click here.
For information on Michigan’s Breaking & Entering charge, click here.
For information on Michigan’s embezzlement charge, click here.
For information on Michigan’s charge, Home Invasion, Third Degree, click here.
For information on Michigan’s charge, Home Invasion, Second Degree, click here.
For information on Michigan’s charge, Home Invasion, First Degree, click here.
For information on Michigan’s charge, Larceny from a Building, click here.

Anyone charged, of course, is presumed innocent. The prosecutor would need to prove the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt if the matter proceeded to trial. Simply because a person is charged does not mean that ultimately, they will be convicted.

If you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances, I encourage you to privately consult with a lawyer. Circumstances may vary significantly. If you need specific legal advice, please privately consult with a lawyer.

If you are charged with an offense and cannot afford to pay for your own defense, the court may appoint you an attorney payable at the public’s expense. You have a right to counsel.