The crime of retail fraud or shoplifting is ordinarily charged not greater than a misdemeanor unless the value of the property involved is $1,000.00 or more.
Effective March 31, 2013, Michigan passed a law that will arm retail establishments and prosecutors with the ability to charge shoplifters with a felony regardless of the value of the property involved. The new law makes it a crime to engage in certain listed conduct which is now called Organized Retail Crime. Therefore, even if a person takes a pack of chewing gum, a felony charge can be supported if other circumstances are present!
The new offense, Organized retail crime, is a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years or a fine of $5,000.00, or both.
The statute provides that a person is guilty of organized retail crime when that person, or in association with another person, does any of the following:
(a) Knowingly commits an organized retail crime.
(b) Organizes, supervises, finances, or otherwise manages or assists another person in committing an organized retail crime.
(c) Removes, destroys, deactivates, or knowingly evades any component of an antishoplifting or inventory control device to prevent the activation of that device or to facilitate another person in committing an organized retail crime.
(d) Conspires with another person to commit an organized retail crime.
(e) Receives, purchases, or possesses retail merchandise for sale or resale knowing or believing the retail merchandise to be stolen from a retail merchant.
(f) Uses any artifice, instrument, container, device, or other article to facilitate the commission of an organized retail crime act.
(g) Knowingly causes a fire exit alarm to sound or otherwise activate, or deactivates or prevents a fire exit alarm from sounding, in the commission of an organized retail crime or to facilitate the commission of an organized retail crime by another person.
(h) Knowingly purchases a wireless telecommunication device using fraudulent credit, knowingly procures a wireless telecommunications service agreement with the intent to defraud another person or to breach that agreement, or uses another person to obtain a wireless telecommunications service agreement with the intent to defraud another person or to breach that agreement.
Our criminal defense firm expects to see a greater number of shoplifters charged with a felony under the new Michigan Organized Retail Crime statute since the value of the property involved is irrelevant. This means that our defense strategy will focus on avoiding a felony conviction. Fortunately, we will continue to be able to utilize the Youthful Trainee Act to obtain dismissals for offenders age 17 but before age 24. In addition, adult offenders may continue to be eligible for delayed sentence dispositions which can also result in dismissals pursuant to MCL 771.1.
Links to our other retail fraud blogs and web pages:
Most Prevalent Misdemeanor Crimes in Macomb County
Charged With Retail Fraud in Romeo or Washington Township
Retail Fraud and the 52-4 District Court in Troy
Retail Fraud and the 32-A District Court in Harper Woods
Handling Retail Fraud Cases in Clinton Township
Retail Fraud and the 41-A District Court in Sterling Heights
Retail Fraud and Larceny Require an Intent to Steal