Retail Fraud

Most people use the term "shoplifting."  Michigan law calls it "retail fraud."

Retail Fraud includes stealing merchandise from a store, switching price tags, and returning stolen merchandise.  In instances of theft, the defendant does not have to leave the store itself or the store's property; passing all points of purchase without attempting to pay may be sufficient to prove the required intent to steal.

Our Retail Fraud Diversion Program is used for both adult and juvenile offenders.

How Does the Retail Fraud Diversion Program Work?

A Lenawee County business that is the victim of a retail fraud files a formal complaint with a police agency. The ECU uses the following guidelines to determine eligibility of participants:
  • The case must involve theft of less than $200 (Retail Fraud 3rd Degree).
  • The participant did not fight, struggle, or resist police or store employees.
  • The participant must not have any prior criminal convictions.
  • The participant must not have participated in a diversion program before.
If the wrongdoer qualifies, then the ECU sends a formal letter to them detailing the steps required to resolve the matter. If the wrongdoer completes the necessary steps, the Prosecutor's office will not issue formal charges.

Steps in the Process

  • After receiving the formal contact letter, the participant must call to schedule an intake appointment and interview.  At the scheduled appointment date, participants must:
    • Pay the applicable civil demand fee in a money order. A business can charge a civil demand up to 10 times the amount of the value of the item stolen, but the total civil demand can only be between $50 and $200.
    • Pay a diversion fee to Lenawee County in a money order.
    • Complete a written statement and complete the diversion agreement.
    • Complete an economic counseling class with Recovery Road.  (Please call Recovery Road for dates and times and cost of classes.  Contact information is on the right side of this page).
  • When all four steps are completed, the complaint will be closed without prosecution. If all four steps are not completed, the participant has failed diversion and will be formally prosecuted.