What will happen to me in criminal court? 7 Answers as of June 06, 2011

On May 18, I was caught shoplifting. I was taken to jail and spent the night there. The next morning I had an arraignment. When I talked to the judge he said a plea of not guilty would be entered and I would have court May 31. I'm being charged with retail fraud 3. This is my first offense. I am wondering what will happen at the court and what my penalties will most likely be.

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Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
I would recommend retaining an attorney for this matter. This response does not contain specific legal advice. If you need specific legal advice, you should consult with an attorney. Anyone charged with a criminal offense is presumed innocent until proven guilty. You may not be guilty of any offense. The prosecutor would need to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt and you have a right to, among other things, legal council. You should consult with an attorney regarding your particular factual circumstances. The maximum possible penalties for a conviction of retail fraud, 3rd degree in Michigan, are probation up to two years, "imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00 or 3 times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine." MCL 750.356d. Further, the court could add community service or other sanctions within their discretion. The penalties noted above reflect the maximums; however, the actual penalties for a conviction vary greatly depending on the person's particular circumstances. Factors include whether there was some sort of plea bargain prior to the conviction, a person's criminal history, the particular judge and county, etc. District court judges have a lot of discretion. In some instances, people are just sentenced to fines, costs, and restitution. In other situations, people participate in diversionary programs which may keep the offense off their record and are placed on a short term of probation with some community service. If the property was not recovered, there is a very good chance any person convicted of that offense will be required to pay restitution, which would significantly to the potential costs. Again, everyone's circumstances are different. Most attorneys provide free initial consultations. It is worth a few phone calls. You are presumed innocent until proven guilty. I would recommend retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/6/2011
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
In short, a Retail Fraud 3rd is a 93 day misdemeanor. You could get jail time and/or up to 2 years probation, plus court costs and fines. If you have a lengthy criminal record, then jail time is more likely. If you have no prior record, then you would not be very likely to go to jail. If you have no prior record, you could get a deferred sentence plea, or your could seek some type of reduced plea. Otherwise, this matter would be on your record, and if you have no further offenses, you could seek an expungement after 5 years. Your best advice is to retain an attorney who can go over the details of your case, and then explain what may be possible in your Court before your Judge. What happens in Court can vary from Court to Court and judge to Judge. Should you need assistance, you could call and set up an appointment to discuss your case. I hope that this was helpful.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/2/2011
Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
You need to consult with an attorney specifically on this matter. These are questions you should be asking him/her and if he/she cannot answer them for you it may be time to find another attorney.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/2/2011
Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
We did not receive this question until June 1, so you may have already been to court. I would assume the hearing on May 31 was in the nature of a pre-trial conference. That is where the prosecutor and defendant/attorney can discuss the case and attempt to reach a resolution. If no resolution can be reached, the matter will be set for trial. You have the right to a trial by jury if a timely jury demand has been made or a trial before the Judge. If found guilty, this is a 93 day misdemeanor. In other words, the maximum jail sentence you could get is 93 days. However, if this is your first offense and you have an otherwise clear record, most likely you would be placed on probation with various conditions.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/1/2011
Attorneys of Michigan, PLLC
Attorneys of Michigan, PLLC | Daniel Hajji
Sounds like you're being charged with retail fraud in the third degree. This may seem as a petty charge but there can be grave consequences for you now and in the future, including but not limited to, jail, fines, costs, probation; Once convicted, anyone will be able to see your conviction on your record, even when you're applying for a job, school, etc. Those who are not U.S. citizens may experience even greater consequences, such as deportation. It's always a good idea to hire an attorney when charged with a crime. Not just any attorney but rather an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 6/1/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    Retail Fraud in the 3rd is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or $500 in fines. The $200 you paid is a civil penalty to the merchant to compensate for the items that were stolen. If you have nothing else on your record, you will probably be offered a diversion program. That means you will have to do a form of probation usually concentrating on community service and sometimes classes. As long as you successfully complete it, the charge will not appear on your public record. That's the most likely scenario. Standard probation is probably the worst scenario if you have prior offenses on your record or you are not eligible for the diversion program for some reason. You should contact an experienced criminal attorney if you have more questions or need more peace of mind about the situation.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/1/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    Well If you had no priors then your attorney MAY be able to get the authorities to give you a break and put you in a program that if you complete it you have no record. This is important because many employers will not hire someone with a theft offense on their record.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 6/1/2011
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