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Michigan Shoplifting Laws

You've had your eye on that designer purse for the past nine weeks but you haven't quite saved enough money to buy it. You really want it, so you start rationalizing "alternative" ways to acquire it -- specifically, by covertly replacing the price tag with that of a less-expensive purse of the same brand. "They'll never know," you tell yourself. "And besides, the markup on this purse is ridiculous to begin with." You decide to dive right down that slippery slope the next day. You wait with anticipation as the cashier rings up your purchase; but then she has a puzzled look before asking the manager if it's the right price. Turns out, the manager actually saw you replacing the price tags and had called the police before you even approached the cash register.

Now you're facing charges of shoplifting (called "retail fraud" in Michigan). Since the purse was priced at $900, a conviction could land you in jail for up to one year, not to mention the steep fines that will far exceed whatever money you managed to save.

Michigan Shoplifting Laws at a Glance

The basics of Michigan's retail fraud (shoplifting) laws, including sentencing and civil penalties, are listed below.


Michigan Penal Code § 750.356c-d

Statutory Definition of Retail Fraud

An individual commits retail fraud by committing one of the following acts:

  • While a store is open to the public, alters, transfers, removes and replaces, conceals, or otherwise misrepresents the price at which property is offered for sale, with the intent not to pay for the property or to pay less than the price at which the property is offered for sale; or
  • With intent to defraud, obtains or attempts to obtain money or property from the store as a refund or exchange for property that was not paid for and belongs to the store.

Crime Classifications

  • Retail Fraud in the 3rd Degree: Theft of goods valued at less than $200 (and no prior convictions); misdemeanor.
  • Retail Fraud in the 2nd Degree: Theft of goods valued at between $200 and $1,000, or valued at less than $200 with a prior conviction; misdemeanor.
  • Retail Fraud in the 1st Degree: Theft of goods valued at $1,000 or more, or valued at $200 or more with a prior conviction; felony.

Sentences and Penalties

  • 3rd Degree: Up to 93 in jail and/or a fine of $500 or three times the value of the stolen items (whichever is greater).
  • 2nd Degree: Up to 1 yr. in jail and/or a fine of $2,000 or three times the value of the stolen items (whichever is greater).
  • 1st Degree: Up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000 or three times the value of the stolen items (whichever is greater).

Civil Remedies

Merchants may sue for damages and penalties related to an act of retail fraud. Damages equal to retail price of goods not recovered in a sellable condition, in addition to damages of up to 10 times the retail price of stolen items (between $50 and $200).

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Michigan Shoplifting Laws: Related Resources

Busted for Shoplifting? An Attorney Can Help You

If you have been caught shoplifting in Michigan and are now facing retail fraud charges, you may have more options before trial than you realize. A seasoned defense attorney who understands how the process works can advocate on your behalf and provide the best possible outcome. Get help today by contacting a Michigan criminal defense attorney near you.

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