Theft and Fraud
Our Theft and Fraud Attorney Team Helps Individuals Facing Criminal Charges in Michigan and Indiana. Don’t Leave Your Freedom to Chance — Call LaBre Law Office Today.
Do You Need the Help of a Theft and Fraud Attorney in the Face of Allegations or Criminal Charges?
Being charged with theft or fraud can be a harrowing and stressful experience. The potential consequences of these charges are severe and can impact your personal and professional life. Charges or allegations of theft or fraud can arise from various situations, such as being accused of shoplifting, stealing from an employer, fraudulent handling of financial transactions, or being involved in complex white-collar crimes like embezzlement or identity theft. The fear of potential consequences — including fines, imprisonment, and a lasting criminal record — can create a state of constant anxiety. If you find yourself in such a situation, you must promptly begin coordinating with an experienced theft and fraud attorney to determine your next steps and start a defense strategy.
The legal system’s complexity and uncertainty about what to expect often compound the emotional turmoil associated with a serious criminal charge. A knowledgeable and empathetic fraud and theft attorney can provide guidance through the legal process, fight for your rights, and defend your future. They can help alleviate some of your stress and anxiety by providing clear information, answering your questions, and reassuring you that you’re not alone in this journey.
Remember that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and there are options and strategies to defend against these charges. Do not delay contacting an experienced theft and fraud defense attorney, as there may be early steps that could lessen the negative impact of these allegations or charges. Call LaBre Law Office today to schedule a consultation.
Types and Degrees of Theft and Fraud in Michigan
There are several types and degrees of theft and fraud in Michigan, and the penalties can vary based on the specifics of your case — including prior convictions, if applicable.
Types and Degrees of Theft or Larceny in Michigan
- Petty Theft: This is considered a misdemeanor in Michigan. It involves the theft of property valued below $200. Consequences can include up to three months (93 days) in jail and/or a fine of up to $500 or three times the value of the stolen property.
- Second Degree Theft: This is also a misdemeanor. It involves the theft of property valued between $200 and $1,000. Penalties can include up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000 or three times the value of the stolen property.
- Felony Theft: This involves the theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $20,000. It’s a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000 or three times the value of the stolen property.
- First Degree Theft: This is a serious felony involving the theft of property valued at $20,000 or more. Penalties can include up to ten years in prison and/or fines of up to $15,000 or three times the value of the stolen property.
Types and Degrees of Fraud in Michigan
Fraud convictions often lead to prison time and hefty fines in Michigan, but penalties can vary greatly depending on the type and severity of the fraud committed. An experienced Michigan fraud attorney can help you limit the negative impact of a charge or conviction. The following are general guidelines for different types and degrees of fraud in Michigan, along with common consequences for convictions:
- Felony Fraud: General fraud offenses are often treated as felonies in Michigan. This means that if you are convicted of fraud, you could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 or three times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater.
- Credit Card Fraud: If you are convicted of credit card fraud under Michigan Penal Code (750.157n), you may face prison time of up to four years and fines of up to $5,000, or three times the amount of money collected or attempted to be collected — whichever is greater.
- Welfare Fraud: If found guilty of welfare fraud, the penalties are determined by the value of the funds fraudulently collected. For amounts less than $500, it’s a misdemeanor with up to three months (93 days) in jail and/or a fine of $500 or three times the amount collected, whichever is greater. For amounts over $500, it’s a felony with up to 4 years in prison and/or fines up to $5,000 or three times the amount collected, whichever is greater.
- Retail Fraud: For retail fraud (shoplifting), the degree of the offense and the penalties depend on the value of the merchandise involved:
- Third-degree retail fraud involves items valued less than $200, punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500 or three times the value of the merchandise.
- Second-degree retail fraud involves items valued between $200 and $1,000, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000 or three times the value of the merchandise.
- First-degree retail fraud involves items valued at $1,000 or more, punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 or three times the value of the merchandise.
Being charged with theft or fraud is a serious matter, and it’s imperative to work closely with an experienced theft and fraud criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights and help you effectively navigate the complexities of the legal system.
How To Protect Yourself If You May Be Facing Charges of Theft or Fraud
- Remain Silent: You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court.
- Seek a Lawyer: Hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can guide you through the legal process, defend your rights, and advocate for your interests.
- Gather Evidence: Collect any evidence that could support your defense, including documents, emails, or witness statements. Your attorney can advise you regarding specific evidence unique to your case.
- Cooperate: Be cooperative and respectful with law enforcement and the court. However, always consult with your attorney before answering questions or providing information.
The Importance of Legal Representation When Facing Theft or Fraud Charges
Theft and fraud charges can lead to severe penalties, including imprisonment, fines, restitution, and a permanent criminal record. A skilled criminal defense attorney can make a significant difference in your case by making efforts to minimize these negative impacts on your life and your future.
Your theft or fraud attorney can:
- Advise you regarding your criminal defense strategy
- Provide guidance and assurance throughout the legal process
- Challenge the prosecution’s evidence
- Negotiate plea agreements
- Represent you at trial
- Advocate for lenient sentencing if you are facing a conviction
What to Expect During the Legal Process When Facing Theft or Fraud Charges
- Arrest and Charges: If you’re suspected of theft or fraud, you may be arrested and officially charged. These charges will be detailed in a document called a complaint.
- Arraignment: This is your first court appearance. The charges against you will be read, and you’ll have the opportunity to enter a plea (guilty, not guilty, or no contest).
- Pretrial Conference: This is a meeting between your defense attorney and the prosecutor to discuss the case. They might negotiate a plea bargain, discuss evidence, or set dates for future proceedings.
- Preliminary Examination: If your case is a felony, you’ll have a preliminary examination where the prosecutor must show probable cause that a crime was committed and that you committed it.
- Trial: If no plea agreement is reached, your case will go to trial. The prosecutor will present their case first, followed by your defense. The jury (or judge in a bench trial) will then decide whether you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Sentencing: If you’re found guilty, the judge will determine your sentence based on several factors, including the severity of the crime, your criminal history, and any mitigating circumstances.
Theft Versus Burglary and Robbery
In Michigan law, theft, burglary, and robbery are distinct crimes with different definitions and penalties. Here’s how they differ:
- Theft (also known as larceny): This crime is against property. It involves unlawfully taking someone else’s property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of its use. The severity of the charge (misdemeanor or felony) usually depends on the value of the stolen property.
- Burglary: This crime is also against property. It involves unlawfully entering a building or dwelling with the intent to commit a felony or a theft inside. It is important to note that the crime of burglary can be committed without actually stealing anything – the key element is the intent to commit a crime after illegal entry. Three elements of burglary are unauthorized breaking and entering, the building or occupied structure, and the intent to commit a crime inside.
- Robbery: This crime is against both property and the person. It involves the use of force or fear to commit theft directly from a person. If a weapon is used or bodily injury occurs, the charge escalates to armed robbery — which carries more severe penalties.
Each carries different penalties and requires different elements to be proven in court.
Penalties for Burglary in Michigan
Instances of burglary can consist of breaking and entering and home invasion, many instances of which are felonies in Michigan:
- Breaking and Entering — A felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Breaking can involve actual physical force, or it may be constructive (such as blackmail or fraud). Entry is a necessary element, but walking in is not required; this element can be satisfied by simply reaching through a window.
- Entering without Breaking — A felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. It involves unauthorized entry without the use of actual or constructive force.
- Burglary with Explosives — A felony punishable by a minimum of 15 years and up to 30 years in state prison. It is a burglary that uses explosives in the physical force component of breaking and entering.
- First Degree Home Invasion — A felony punishable by a prison term up to 20 years and a fine of up to $5,000. This involves entering a home or dwelling to commit an assault, felony, or larceny (theft) while either armed with a dangerous weapon, or while another person is there lawfully within the home or dwelling.
- Second Degree Home Invasion — A felony punishable by a prison term up to 15 years and a fine of up to $3,000. This involves entering a home or dwelling to commit an assault, felony, or larceny (theft).
- Third Degree Home Invasion — A felony punishable by a prison term up to 5 years and a fine of up to $2,000. This involves entering a home or dwelling to commit a misdemeanor, or entering a home or dwelling while violating terms of probation, parole, or a protection order.
Penalties for Robbery in Michigan
All robberies in Michigan are classified as felonies, and the presence of a weapon during a robbery generally leads to more severe charges. Three common categories are Robbery, Armed Robbery, and Carjacking:
- Robbery — A felony punishable by imprisonment for up to 15 years. It involves committing larceny or theft while using force or violence against a person who is present, assaulting the person, or putting them in fear.
- Armed Robbery — A felony punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. It is a robbery involving the robber’s possession of a dangerous weapon, using an item or article to make someone believe they have a dangerous weapon, or otherwise indicating with words or actions that they have such a weapon.
- Carjacking — A felony punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. It involves stealing a motor vehicle by using force or fear against the driver or passenger(s).
Consult with our experienced team of fraud and theft lawyers if you face any of these charges to ensure your rights are protected and to develop an appropriate and effective defense strategy.
Defending against Theft or Fraud Charges in Michigan
When facing theft or fraud charges in Michigan, it’s vital to work with your attorney to develop a strong defense. Some common defense strategies are:
- Lack of Intent: To convict someone of theft or fraud, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to commit the crime. If you can show that you had no intention to permanently deprive the owner of their property or to deceive or defraud, this could be a valid defense.
- Claim of Right or Ownership: This defense can be used if you genuinely believed you had a legal right to the property you’re accused of stealing.
- Entrapment: This defense could apply if someone induced you to commit a crime you would not have ordinarily committed. It’s often used in cases where law enforcement used deceptive tactics.
- Insufficient Evidence: The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. If there’s insufficient evidence to support the charge, this can be a strong defense.
- Mistaken Identity: If you’ve been wrongly identified as the person who committed the crime, your attorney will work to challenge the credibility of the identification and introduce doubt.
- Duress or Coercion: If you were forced or threatened into committing the crime, it could be a potential defense.
- Intoxication: While not a strong defense, in some cases, intoxication might be used to argue that you were not capable of forming the intent necessary to commit theft or fraud.
Your appropriate defense strategy will depend on the specifics of your case, including the evidence against you, the circumstances of the alleged crime, and your personal and criminal history.
Contact LaBre Law Office to Discuss Your Theft or Fraud Case and Begin Planning Your Criminal Defense Strategy
There are many factors that may affect your future in the face of theft or fraud charges, but you can begin taking action immediately to protect yourself. One crucial step is to promptly contact an experienced theft and fraud lawyer to assess your situation.
At LaBre Law Office, our criminal defense attorney team is prepared to guide you in response to or in anticipation of fraud or theft allegations. Our team of theft and fraud lawyers can help you throughout the “Michiana” area, as we are licensed on both sides of the Michigan-Indiana border. Don’t delay reaching out, as there may be important steps to take immediately to mitigate issues in your case.
Contact LaBre Law Office today to schedule a consultation. We will discuss the unique details of your theft or fraud case and begin building a legal strategy for your defense.
LaBre Law Office — Excellence is Our Standard
Every situation is different and requires personalized legal strategy and attention. Tell us about your current situation and we would be happy to discuss your legal options. We have the skills, experience and resources needed to provide you with compassionate legal service.
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Why Choose LaBre Law Office?
Our clients in the Michiana area have confidence when LaBre Law Office handles their legal issues because our general practice law firm has established a record as a trusted member of the community for over four decades, serving our neighbors:
- Caring, aggressive advocacy for your interests in many practice areas
- We represent clients in both Michigan and Indiana
- Straightforward, assertive, and dependable guidance
- Unique legal strategies tailored to each specific case
- We fully address your concerns so you always understand your case’s status
- We will be here for you long after your legal issue is resolved
Excellence is our standard. Call today to schedule a consultation.
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