Retail Fraud/Shoplifting

Retail fraud is the legal term for “shoplifting.” The law in Michigan for retail fraud can be confusing, and a misunderstanding of the potential consequences can have negative effects on your personal and professional life. Many retail fraud or shoplifting cases involve teenagers who are not aware of the damaging long term effects a criminal charge can have on his/her life. A retail fraud conviction can result in a permanent criminal record, jail time, fines, and trouble maintaining employment. With so much at stake, it is critical to hire an experienced attorney like me who can arm you with the knowledge necessary in building a winning defense strategy.

What is “Retail Fraud”

Retail fraud is defined as doing any of the following “in or in the vicinity of a store that is open to the public”:

  • Stealing property from the store that is offered for sale.
  • Misrepresenting the price of a product with the intent of not paying for it or paying less than the listed price
  • Attempting to return property that was not paid for with the intent of fraudulently obtaining a refund

MPC 750.356(c) and (d)


Michigan uses a tiered system to penalize retail fraud, with first degree being the most serious and third degree being the least serious. The degree with which a person is charged is dependent upon the amount alleged to have been stolen or defrauded.

  • First Degree: $1,000 or more in money or stolen property.
  • Second Degree: $200 to $1,000 in money or stolen property.
  • Third Degree: Less than $200 in money or stolen property.

No matter what degree of retail fraud you are charged with, there are negative consequences that can have potentially lasting effects on your life. Contact ZAYID LAW today to learn more about the degrees (and penalties) of retail fraud and how to obtain the best possible outcome for your case.


Retail fraud can be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending upon the degree with which you are charged:

  • First Degree: Felony
    • Up to five years in prison
    • Fines up to $10,000 or 3 times the value of the stolen property, whichever is greater.
  • Second Degree: Misdemeanor
    • Up to one year in jail
    • Fines up to $2,000 or 3 times the value of the stolen property, whichever is greater.
  • Third Degree: Misdemeanor
    • Up to 93 days in jail
    • Fines up to $500 or 3 times the value of the stolen property, whichever is greater.

Repeat Offenders: Michigan law allows prosecutors to seek enhanced sentences and penalties for repeat offenders. It is critical to call me today to preserve your rights and fights the charges against you.

ZAYID LAW’S Defenses to Retail Fraud

Retail fraud charges are heavily dependent two pieces of evidence: eyewitnesses and surveillance footage. I dissect every second of the footage and compare it to the specific words used by alleged eyewitnesses to identify any discrepancies in the story. Many times, eyewitness testimony will paint a different picture than what is shown in the footage. ZAYID LAW has success in attacking the credibility of the witness testimony and accuracy of the surveillance footage to call into question the prosecutor’s case.

As with most theft cases, the primary focus is on intent – that is, did the person accused of shoplifting actually intend to steal the money/property? What if you tried something on and forgot to put it back? I deal with these types of cases every day, and I know how to call into question the intent factor when defending retail fraud cases. The sooner you contact me the sooner we can build your winning defense strategy and achieve the best possible outcome for your case.