North Carolina Theft Laws
In North Carolina law, theft is always described using the word “larceny.” Though this may sound a little confusing, “theft” and “larceny” are often used interchangeably to describe the same type of crimes that involve the unlawful taking of someone else’s property.
Types of Larceny in North Carolina
Most types of larceny fall under a few categories that are described in detail under Chapter 14, Article 16 of North Carolina Law. They are:
- Possessing and/or receiving stolen goods ( § 14-71, 14-71.1.)
- Concealing merchandise in a store (shoplifting) ( § 14-72.1.)
- Removing a shopping cart from a store’s premises ( § 14-72.3.)
- Larceny of gasoline at a service (gas) station ( § 14-72.5.)
- Larceny of motor vehicle parts (“chop shop” activity) ( § 14-72.8.)
The type of larceny an individual may be charged with depends on several factors, including the circumstances under which the theft occurred, where the theft occurred, and the value of the goods that were stolen.
North Carolina Larceny Classifications
Most larcenies committed in North Carolina are considered Class H felonies unless the law dictates that that specific form of larceny should be classified as another type of felony or a misdemeanor. What follows is a breakdown of each type of larceny and its corresponding penalty:
- Larceny of property valued at less than $1,000 is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If the property is valued over $1,000 it is a Class H felony.
- Knowingly receiving or possessing stolen property or goods is a Class H felony.
- Larceny of gasoline is a Class F felony.
- Larceny by an employee is a Class H felony if the property is valued at less than $100 and a Class C felony if the property is worth $100 or more.
- Concealment of merchandise (shoplifting) is a Class 2 or 3 misdemeanor, depending on whether it is the first offense or not.
Additionally, the following types of larceny will always be upgraded from misdemeanors and be charged as felonies, regardless of the value of the property that was stolen:
- The property stolen is physically taken off another person’s body (e.g. pickpocketing)
- The stolen property is an explosive or firearm
- The property is stolen during a burglary or breaking and entering
- The thief tampered with a security device in order to obtain the stolen property
- The property stolen is a record or any other type of document in the custody of the North Carolina State Archives
Criminal Larceny Penalties in North Carolina
Now that we’ve discussed how the different types of criminal larceny are broken down into misdemeanors or felonies, let’s look at what the specific penalties are for each type of larceny committed in North Carolina:
- Larceny charged as a Class 3 misdemeanor is punishable by as much as 30 days in jail and a $200 fine.
- Larceny charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
- Larceny charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 120 days in jail and a fine to be set at the discretion of a judge.
- Larceny charged as a Class H felony is punishable with anywhere from 4 to 24 months in prison.
- Larceny charged as a Class F felony is punishable with anywhere from 10 to 41 months in prison.
- Larceny charged as a Class C felony is punishable with anywhere from 44 to 182 months in prison.
Civil Penalties for Larceny in North Carolina
Additionally, those who steal property from a store in North Carolina may face civil penalties for actual damages, punitive damages, and/or as a means of reimbursing the store owner’s attorney fees. The damages that can be awarded in civil penalties must range between $150 and $1,000. If a minor commits shoplifting, their parent or legal guardian may be responsible for paying the same amount in damages, although they cannot be held liable for punitive damages.
Finally, if the property stolen from a store was valued over $2,000 and the person who committed the crime used any type of vehicle during the theft, the state can seize that vehicle under North Carolina civil forfeiture laws.
North Carolina Larceny and Theft Attorneys
If you’ve been accused of theft or larceny, the best thing you can do is to get in touch with the experienced larceny lawyers at Mulligan Attorneys ASAP. The trial and sentencing process for larceny in North Carolina can often be extremely complicated since charges are based on the value of the property and your past criminal records.
By hiring an attorney, you can rest easy knowing that you will be defended by someone who knows North Carolina larceny law well and is dedicated to making sure your trial proceeds fairly. Get in touch with us today at 910-763-1100 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.