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Theft and Property Crimes Attorney in Michigan

Nobody enjoys being labeled a thief. Facing charges for a theft or property crime can be a distressing experience. Regrettably, it's not uncommon to find oneself wrongly accused. You might have overlooked scanning the last item in your shopping cart, or perhaps made an accounting mistake at your job. Even though you know you're innocent, don't expect the prosecutor to simply take your word for it. You'll need a defense attorney, like John N. Elliott, who comprehends theft and property crimes to defend you.

Certainly, not all cases handled by John N. Elliott involve false accusations. A number of cases are categorized as "momentary lapses of judgment." Maybe you thought your employer wouldn't notice a few dollars missing from the books, or you assumed the department store wouldn't miss a single shirt. However, one mistake doesn't have to ruin your life. A theft crime attorney can assist in keeping your record clean and prevent you from serving jail time. Learn about our proven results from our clients' testimonials.

Here are some common theft and property crimes that John N. Elliott often handles.

Will I go to jail for a theft or property crime in Michigan?
Yes, there's always the potential for you to serve jail time for theft or property crimes in Michigan. Even third-degree retail fraud, such as shoplifting items worth less than $200, can be punished by up to 93 days in jail. However, for minor theft crimes, especially for first-time offenders, the probability of serving jail time is minimal. In many cases, it's possible to obtain a deferral, meaning a conviction never appears on your record. In essence, for first-time non-violent misdemeanor theft and property crimes, jail time is unlikely.

For felony theft and property crimes, predicting potential jail time becomes more challenging. Any crime involving physical force (e.g., breaking and entering) increases the likelihood of jail time. However, for non-violent "white collar" crimes, such as embezzlement, it's often possible, but not guaranteed, to negotiate a no-jail deal with the prosecutor. This usually depends on you agreeing to pay full restitution to the victim. Regardless, the outcome of any theft or property crime depends on the specifics of your case.

Can I get my theft or property crime charge dismissed in Michigan?
Yes, it may be possible to have your theft or property crime charge dismissed. Several defenses can apply in these cases.

Firstly, did you actually intend to steal the items? For theft crimes, the prosecution needs to demonstrate that you intended to take the items knowing they didn't belong to you. Therefore, if you unintentionally walked past the register without paying for the last item in your cart, you aren't liable for any crime.

Likewise, you may have believed you had a legal right to the items. That is, you took the property honestly thinking you had a claim to it. If that's the case, you won't be criminally liable. This defense can apply even if you were mistaken about your claim of right.

With white-collar crimes, the alleged misappropriations might be due to accounting errors rather than wrongdoing. As with any other theft crime, the prosecution must prove that you intended to take property knowing it didn't belong to you. If your accounting mistake was innocent or, at worst, negligent, you won't be criminally liable.

These are some of the most common defenses John N. Elliott employs in theft and property crime cases. There may be others that apply based on the specific facts of your case.

Retail Fraud (aka Shoplifting)

John N. Elliott handles many retail fraud cases. In Michigan, retail fraud charges range from first-degree (most serious) to third-degree (least serious) depending on the value of the property allegedly stolen. Some cases are based on simple misunderstandings, such as forgetting to pay for an item you put in your purse. Regardless of the circumstance, John N. Elliott can help you prove your innocence or ensure a regrettable mistake doesn't result in jail time and a permanent criminal record.


Most embezzlement cases involve employees accused of stealing money entrusted to them by their employer, often classified as a "white-collar crime." Frequently, accountants and bookkeepers are charged in these cases. Sometimes, embezzlement accusations are simply accounting errors that get misconstrued. Nevertheless, you'll need a defense attorney, like John N. Elliott, to prove it.

Credit Card Fraud

If you take someone's credit card without their consent, you can be charged with credit card fraud, also called "stealing a financial transaction device." You can be charged even if you never used the credit card.

Check Forgery

Forging a check is commonly referred to as "uttering and publishing" in Michigan. Each case is unique and some can become quite complex. You'll need a criminal defense attorney, like John N. Elliott, to explore potential defenses you might have.

Identity Theft

Identity theft typically involves using someone else's personal identifying information (usually a driver's license) to obtain money, goods, or services in Michigan. Due to the widespread fear of identity theft, prosecutors aggressively pursue these cases.


Larceny is simply stealing someone's property. The most common version is larceny in a building, i.e., stealing something from a building. This is a felony offense that carries up to four years in prison. As you'll see, you can be charged with a more serious crime depending on the circumstances of the alleged theft.

Home Invasion

Also referred to as burglary, home invasion is invading someone’s home. It’s divided into three degrees depending on the seriousness of the conduct. Each degree is a felony. It generally involves breaking and entering with the intent to commit another crime once inside. Home invasion charges are taken very seriously by prosecutors. If you’re accused or charged with home invasion, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney, like John N. Elliott.

Unarmed Robbery

In Michigan, "robbery" generally involves taking money or property from someone using force or the threat of force. If you do it without a weapon, it's unarmed robbery. An unarmed robbery charge is a felony and can land you in serious trouble.

Armed Robbery

Armed robbery is similar to unarmed robbery, except a weapon is used. In Michigan, armed robbery is a capital offense, meaning it’s punishable by up to life in prison. Prosecutors pursue these charges vigorously. You'll need to consult a criminal defense attorney, like John N. Elliott, as soon as possible.


Joyriding, as defined in Michigan, means to take someone’s car without permission, but without the intent to permanently steal it. It’s common to see teenagers and young adults charged with this offense. It’s a high court misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years in prison.

Driving Away an Automobile
(UDAA) (aka Auto Theft)

Sometimes called grand theft auto, this involves taking a car and driving it away without the owner’s authority. This constitutes UDAA, a felony. However, if you took the car without intending to permanently steal it, you may be eligible for a reduction to joyriding.


Carjacking is distinguished from UDAA, as it involves stealing a car while the occupants are still in it. The victims in these cases are often very sympathetic, and prosecutors are not lenient when it comes to carjacking. Like armed robbery, it’s a capital offense punishable by up to life in prison. But often issues arise about whether the victims have correctly identified the carjacker.

Receiving and Concealing
Stolen Property

What if you didn't actually steal anything, but you bought or accepted something from another person knowing it was stolen? You could be liable for receiving and concealing stolen property. If the property is worth more than $1,000, it’s a felony. Most of these cases revolve around whether the person who bought or accepted the property knew that it was stolen. The assistance of a criminal defense attorney, like John N. Elliott, is vital.

Winning Strategies

In any theft or property crime case, there are several aspects to consider. Without revealing too much of our strategy, here are some of the things we'll examine in your case:

  • Did you intend to permanently steal the property?
  • Is an alleged misappropriation attributable to an accounting error rather than intentional theft?
  • Did you have permission to take the money or property?
  • Did witnesses accurately identify the perpetrator?

Lawyer for Theft and Property Crime Charges in Michigan - John N. Elliott.

If you need a lawyer in Michigan for any of the following property crime or theft charges, John N. Elliott can provide the best possible defense:

  • Auto Theft, UDAA
  • Armed Robbery
  • Carjacking
  • Credit Card Theft
  • Check Forgery
  • Federal Charges
  • Joyriding
  • Embezzlement
  • Identity Theft
  • Retail Fraud/Shoplifting
  • Unarmed Robbery
  • Home Invasion
  • Larceny from a Building

Contact John N. Elliott Right Away

If you're accused or charged in a theft or property crimes case, you need a criminal defense attorney like John N. Elliott on your side.

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Client Testimonials

Crystal Painter

Highly recommend GREAT GREAT GREAT lawyer resonabrea price he told me once I hired him he is 100% confident I will not go to jail he said call me as many times you want I felt really bad always calling him but he was always there to answer my questions John is very very great he got me thur court I'm walking free thanks so much John for all your help I will be recommending you to anyone and everyone it was a pleasure working you with!!!

Jon Crego

Best Attorney in town, you will Not be Disappointed. Go see him.

Aaron Appel

Grateful for the diligent and dedicated action of John Elliott and his law practice in his support of me and his countless other clients. Couldn't ask for better representation and hope that others find their way into his capable hands.

Nick E

John Elliott is an aggressive attorney who truly works hard for all of his Clients. I have worked in the legal field for many years and found that not all attorneys will fight for their Client's the way we would like them to. Mr. Elliott has surpassed all my expectations pertaining to his professionalism, aggressiveness and ability to achieve results others can't. I would highly recommend his services.