Woman shoplifting

North Carolina Shoplifting Crimes and Punishments

Shoplifting charges and the penalties they carry are different throughout the country. The two main charges associated with shoplifting in North Carolina are concealment of goods and larceny of goods. Additionally, there are several other kinds of charges that can be associated with shoplifting.

What someone is charged with in a shoplifting case depends on a variety of things. Where the accused was caught, the value of the goods, and the details of the case can all factor into making charges. Here, we’ll discuss shoplifting charges and penalties in North Carolina and what to do if you’ve been accused of shoplifting in North Carolina.

What is Concealment of Goods?

To be charged with concealment of goods in North Carolina, the accused must:

  1. Willingly hide or conceal goods from a store AND;
  2. Have not purchased the goods AND;
  3. The accused must be within the premises of the store.

In other words, the accused must be inside the store when apprehended in order to be charged with concealment of goods.

Penalties for Concealment of Goods in North Carolina

The number of prior offenses is a major factor in determining the penalty for concealment of goods in North Carolina. Here are some examples of typical charges for concealment of goods under $1,000:

  • First Conviction – Class 3 Misdemeanor: A minimum of 24 hours of community service or the potential for one to ten days in jail.
  • Second Conviction (within 3 years) – Class 2 Misdemeanor: A minimum of 72 hours of community service or 72 hours in jail.
  • Third Conviction (within 5 year) – Class 3 Misdemeanor: A minimum of 11 days of jail with the potential for more based on past convictions

Concealment of goods can also be charged as a felony in certain cases. Typically this only happens if the value of the goods is over $1,000, but it can also happen if additional crimes were committed at the same time.

What is Larceny of Goods?

To be charged with larceny of goods in North Carolina, the accused must:

  1. Take
  2. Personal property
  3. That belonged to someone else
  4. And carry it away
  5. Without the owner’s permission or consent
  6. With the intention of depriving the owner
  7. And with the knowledge that they (the accused) are not entitled to that property

In simpler terms, to be charged with larceny of goods, the accused must be apprehended past the last point of sale while possessing the stolen property.

Penalties for Larceny of Goods in North Carolina

Larceny is considered a more serious offense in North Carolina than concealment is.

Typically, larceny of goods worth $1,000 or less will result in a Class 1 misdemeanor. If the offender doesn’t have any prior convictions, they can be sentenced to anywhere from one to 45 days in jail. Prior convictions may result in more jail time.

Larceny of goods worth more than $1,000 will result in a Class H felony. Depending on the circumstances of the case, someone charged with a Class H felony in North Carolina could result in anywhere from four months to over two years of jail time.

There is one exception to the above rules, and that is that someone can be charged with a Class H felony for larceny of goods under $1,000 if one or more of the following are true:

  • The property is taken directly from another person (as opposed to a store)
  • Breaking and entering is committed
  • The person has been convicted of larceny or shoplifting four or more times in the past
  • The stolen property is a firearm, explosive device, or any document belonging to the North Carolina State Archives

Additional Shoplifting Charges

In addition to the charges and penalties listed above, there are several less common, crimes that can be charged in a shoplifting case:

A person can be charged with “using a tool to prevent activation” if they are found guilty of using a tool to prevent an anti-theft device from working. This crime can also be charged when someone intentionally removes an anti-theft device. This results in an automatic Class H felony and jail time (length of time served depends on criminal history).

A person be charged with “use of an emergency exit” if they are found guilty of using an emergency exit door to leave a store with stolen goods for $200 or more. This is also a Class H felony and can result in jail time (length of time served depends on criminal history).

A person can be charged with “substitution of prices” for being found guilty of transferring or altering price tags, or if they use a fake price tag. This is usually charged as a Class 3 misdemeanor and punished with up to 24 hours of community service or jail time.

Civil Court Shoplifting Lawsuit

In addition to being punished by North Carolina law, convicted shoplifters can also be sued by the person or store they stole from. If the civil suit is successful, the accused shoplifter may have to pay for consequential damages, punitive damages, and attorney fees. The total damages the accused can be held liable for can range from $150 to $1,000.

Hire an Experienced Attorney

If you or a loved one has been accused of shoplifting, you should speak to a North Carolina shoplifting attorney before moving forward with your case. Often, the person who is making the accusation will attempt to pressure the accused into incriminating themselves. Remember, if you are accused of or detained for suspected shoplifting, do not say, write, or do anything before speaking to a shoplifting lawyer.

There are several situations where one could be falsely accused of shoplifting. We have helped residents in Wilmington and all over New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender Counties, and we can help you. Contact us today to learn more about how you may be able to fight wrongful shoplifting charges.