Theft offenses in Michigan include Larceny -the taking of another person's personal property with the intent to keep it; Identity Theft; Uttering and Publishing; Embezzlement; Retail Fraud; and Possessing Stolen Property; and more. These are examples of specialized theft offenses comprised of different requirements that require the assistance and guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Retail Fraud is Michigan's shoplifting legislation. It can be charged as Third Degree Retail Fraud, a 93-day misdemeanor, Second Degree Retail Fraud, a 1-year misdemeanor, and First Degree Retail Fraud, a felony with a maximum sentence of five years. The the degrees are based on the value of the goods in question and the number of prior Retail Fraud offenses a person has.
Identity Theft involves using, with intent to defraud, “personal identifying information” to obtain or to try to obtain property, access confidential information or commit another crime. "Personal identifying information" means a name, number, or other information that is used to identify a specific person or to access to a person's financial accounts. This can be as simple as giving a false name, driver license or social security number or as extensive as using a person’s mother's maiden name or log-in password.
Embezzlement is the theft of property that you came to possess as a result of your employment or other agency relationship. Depending on the value of the property, it can be charged as a 93-day misdemeanor (Embezzlement under $200), a 20-year felony (Embezzlement over $100,000) or anywhere in between. For example, Embezzlement $1,000.00 or more but less than $20,000.00 is a five year offense. Prior convictions may increase the possible penalty. If the embezzlement victim is a non-profit corporation, a charity, or a person 60 years of age or over, a sentence for embezzlement may run consecutively to any sentence imposed for any other criminal offense.
Many people don't realize it is also a crime to buy, receive, possess, conceal, or aid in the concealment of stolen, embezzled, or converted money, goods, or property. A person can be guilty of this crime even if he did not know that the property was stolen. All the prosecutor needs to show is a reason to believe that the property was stolen. A cracked steering column in a vehicle you are driving would almost certainly suffice – even if you can prove that you paid the “owner” $10,000 for the car. Telling the police you paid $100 for a nearly-new 16-inch MacBook Pro is an example of how a prosecutor may try to establish a reason to believe that the computer may have been stolen. A deal too good to be true usually is.
What Do The Best Criminal Defense Attorneys Do To Defend Theft Offenses?
Ethically, lawyers cannot and should not make claims about themselves such as being “the best.” Instead, lawyers should stand on their experience, ratings, reputation, and results. The best practices to defend theft cases include: intimate knowledge of the local courts and participants; a thorough confidential client interview; obtaining all case discovery including in-car and body-cam police video, audio dispatch recordings, 9-1-1 audio recordings, obtaining surveillance video, interviewing any witnesses, preparing a client for the courtroom, and the ability to present a case in court in pretrial motion hearings and at trial.
In Michigan, theft offenses can be nuanced and complicated and should be defended by only the most experienced defense attorneys. For over 35 years, Joseph A. Simon has been helping persons charged with theft offenses protect their freedom, reputation and future goals. Our attorneys have over 60 years combined experience in criminal defense and an unwavering commitment to excellence in criminal defense. If you or a loved one are being investigated for or charged with a theft offense in Washtenaw, Wayne, Jackson, Livingston, or Lenawee County, contact our firm at 734-887-6200 for a free consultation.