Stealing packages in MI could be subject to harsher penalties under two bills recently passed by the state senate. Authorities in Lansing believe that current state larceny laws do not adequately address and punish mail theft, which is on the rise as more and more people use online shopping services. In 2017 and 2018, for example, more than 17,000 Amazon packages never arrived at their Michigan addressees.
Mail theft is a federal crime, but the United States Attorney’s office rarely prosecutes package theft, because it focuses primarily on bigger cases. So, the Michigan state government is tackling the problem. The new penalties will go into effect if the House of Representatives approves the legislation, and if the governor signs it into law.
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges for larceny, a Detroit criminal defense lawyer can help. Call Davis Law Group today at (313) 818-3238 or use our online contact form for a free and confidential consultation.
Michigan Legislature Makes Bipartisan Effort to Increase Theft Penalties
It’s rare for both parties to agree on legislation – especially when it concerns an increase in criminal penalties. In this case, proponents of the penalty increase had to compromise to gain wider support for their policy. Initially, the legislation introduced by Republican State Senator Pete Lucido would have made a first offense of package theft a felony. But the version passed by the senate describes a first offense as a misdemeanor, which is a less serious category of crime.
If adopted, Senate Bills 23 and 24 would put in place the following penalties for mail theft:
- First offense – Misdemeanor punishable by up to one year and jail and/or a $500 fine
- Second offense – Felony involving up to five years in prison and/or $1,000 in fines
- Third offense – Felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and along with possible fines of $2,000.
According to Senator Jim Runestead, another Republican sponsor of the bills, these increased penalties will “put some teeth” into the state’s mail theft laws, and give prosecutors better tools to deal with offenders.
Under current law, prosecutors can charge people with stealing mail if they use the credit cards or cash the checks that they steal. But when it comes to stealing packages, it can be difficult to prove that the victim’s incurred a financial loss, and thus to prosecute suspects. According to Wayne County state prosecutor Dennis Doherty: “We didn’t have a statute to prosecute them, and it’s almost hard to believe.”
A Detroit Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
If the new laws go into effect, suspects will benefit from two affirmative defenses. An affirmative defense is a legal strategy in which your legal defense team admits that you took the mail, but that you were justified in doing so. In this case, Senate Bills 23 and 24 give you the ability to avoid criminal liability if you can establish that you took or moved the mail with permission, or that you did so in order to prevent a crime. Additionally, your lawyer can fight against your mail charges by showing that there is a reasonable doubt as to whether you committed the offense.
At the Davis Law Group, we stand ready to defend your rights at every stage of the criminal justice process. We will explore every avenue for the defense of your case, and advocate forcefully on your behalf to obtain a good case outcome. Do not plead guilty to larceny charges before you have consulted with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. If you’ve been accused of theft, call us today at (313) 818-3238 or use our online contact form to reach out for a free consultation.