Attorney DeBruin represents clients from across lower Michigan.

Attorney DeBruin represents clients from across lower michigan.

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Scenarios where retail fraud may not be punishable

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2023 | Criminal Defense

The financial toll of retail fraud can be crippling for businesses. According to industry estimates, retailers lose billions of dollars annually to various forms of retail fraud. These losses affect profit margins, disrupt operations and can lead to higher prices for consumers to offset the losses.

Punishments for retail fraud

Retail fraud in the first degree is a serious offense that involves dishonest actions in a store or its vicinity. Those guilty of this crime could face severe penalties, such as imprisonment for up to five years or a fine of up to $10,000.00. The punishment could also be three times the value of the stolen property or the money obtained, whichever is greater, or a combination of both imprisonment and a fine.

If a person has prior convictions for similar offenses, their charge of retail fraud in the first degree may be more severe. The court may add up the total value of multiple incidents within a 12-month period to decide the seriousness of the offense.

When is it not considered retail fraud

Retail fraud can unexpectedly appear during shopping excursions, taking different forms that may catch customers off guard.

  • Accidental misplacement, where an item is unknowingly left unpaid
  • Technical errors in scanning devices leading to payment discrepancies
  • Confusion over store policies or pricing changes
  • Inadvertent item switching amid the shopping frenzy
  • Mistaken identity situations
  • Language barriers contribute to misunderstandings among international visitors.

All of these scenarios can unknowingly lead to inadvertent retail fraud. In such cases, most stores are willing to resolve the matter once the customer has clarified that their intentions are nonmalicious.

Facing a charge of retail fraud in the first degree is a serious matter. Although there are instances when these charges can be resolved amicably, honesty and transparency are key in handling any legal situation. Individuals accused of this crime would still benefit by seeking legal counsel immediately.