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Retail Crime Charges in Michigan

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorneys

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The Organized Retail Crime Act is designed to protect public health and safety by acknowledging the harmful impact of individuals engaging in the theft of retail merchandise for resale in an unregulated fashion, including infant formula, medications, pharmaceutical items, and more. Ultimately, the aim is to prevent the proceeds of these sales from funding other criminal enterprises and to punish those who commit such activities.

This offense constitutes larceny of retail merchandise from a merchant in order to resell, distribute, or otherwise reintroduce the items into commerce. This includes the transfer of stolen merchandise, completed in a barter of some type, to another merchant or to any other individual via the mail, in person, through the internet, or by other electronic media.

A person may be charged with this crime if he or she does any of the following, either alone or with others:

  • Knowingly engages in an organized retail crime;
  • Organizes, oversees, funds, or otherwise assists others in the commission of an organized retail crime;
  • Removes, breaks, deactivates, or knowingly eludes any part of an antishoplifting or inventory control device to stop activation of it or to help another individual commit an organized retail crime;
  • Conspires with another to engage in an organized retail crime;
  • Receives, purchases, or is in possession of retail merchandise for sale or resale with knowledge or belief that the merchandise is stolen;
  • Uses artifice, instruments, containers, or other items to aid in committing an organized retail crime;
  • Knowingly activates or deactivates a fire exit alarm while committing an organized retail crime or to help another commit such an offense; or
  • Knowingly buys a wireless telecommunication device—for example, cellular phones—with fraudulent credit or knowingly gains a related service agreement (or uses another to obtain this) with the intent to defraud another or to breach that agreement.

If you are facing any of these scenarios, your help begins by contacting one of our experienced defense attorneys.


For a violation, an individual may be charged with a felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $5,000.00 fine, or both. If convicted, the defendant will be ordered by the court to pay restitution to any retail merchant victim and to reimburse the government for related expenses.

If the owner of the stolen merchandise is unable to be identified, the merchandise and any sale proceeds are subject to forfeiture. Moreover, the court will order this forfeiture under terms and conditions that it deems appropriate.

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