On May 16, Devontea Clifford Evans was admiring a $10,000 diamond ring in a Kentwood Zales Jewelry store located in Woodland Mall when according to police, Evans and the ring disappeared. Evans, who is 23 years old, denied having the ring when he was apprehended in the parking lot by mall security guards.
After reviewing video camera footage of the parking lot and mall on which it appeared Evans swallowed the ring, the suspect was taken to the Kent County Jail. After some careful consideration about how corrections officers could retrieve the diamond ring, a search performed on Evans a bit later revealed the ring was in his pants – which led to officers suspecting that the ring may have been hidden in another orifice.
Wherever the ring was ultimately hidden, Evans now faces charges of first-degree retail fraud as a third-felony offender. A resident of Hazel Park, Evans allegedly has a long criminal record in both Detroit and New Jersey, and is wanted on a warrant in Detroit. If tried as a third-felony offender, Evans will face up to 10 years in prison. The prosecutor’s office has offered Evans the opportunity to plea as a second-felony offender, which would decrease prison time to a maximum of 7 1/2 years.
In Michigan, first-degree retail fraud involves the theft of merchandise valued at more than $1,000. Theft can occur not only by an individual physically taking an item, but also by altering the price tag of an item in some way so as not to pay the full price. Theft or retail fraud can also be accomplished by taking a product back for a refund or exchange when it was never paid for initially, and the product still belongs to the store.
There are many instances in which someone may be arrested or charged with retail fraud or shoplifting when he or she is in fact innocent. Regardless of the situation, the criminal penalties for a conviction are harsh and can affect all areas of your life. If you have been accused of a theft offense, do not hesitate before contacting an experienced and aggressive Michigan criminal defense lawyer.