Many people in California have no idea that return fraud is illegal. In fact, it is considered a form of shoplifting. There are several types of return fraud, each of which is against the law. To find out more about the options for a person charged with this crime, keep reading. Then contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 to talk to a criminal defense attorney who can help.
Common Examples of Return Fraud
This type of theft involves returning stole or altered merchandise to get cash or store credit. Examples including receipt fraud in which a person uses a forged, altered, or otherwise inaccurate receipt to return items, price arbitrage in which a person repackages an expensive item into a cheaper box or package, and price switching, in which a person switches price tags to get a lesser charge.
The Accused Could Face Several Types of Charges
The specific charge a person faces will depend on the value of what was stolen. If the property was worth $950 or less then it is petty theft, which is a misdemeanor. The maximum punishment is six months in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
If the property was worth more than $950 then it is a wobbler offense and the court can decide to file the charge as a felony or a misdemeanor. If it is charged as a felony then the maximum sentence is up to three years in jail and fines of as much as $10,000. If it is charged as a misdemeanor, the maximum charge is up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
There Are Several Potential Defenses to Return Fraud
Of course the best defense for your case will depend largely on the facts. One common defense is showing that you simply made a mistake. Perhaps you brought the wrong item back to return, or you may have accidentally made another error that led the confusion. This goes hand in hand with another defense, which is a lack of intent. In order to get a conviction, the prosecution must prove not just that you committed a return fraud but that you meant to do so.
Another option may be to prove that you were not involved at all. We may do this by showing that it was another person who committed the crime, that it is a case of mistaking identity, or that you were simply set up.
If you are looking to find the best defense option for a charge of return fraud or another theft crime, contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 for a free legal consultation. We can go over the facts and offer our best advice on how you can move on.