Defenses to Felony Theft (Larceny) Crimes in North Carolina

Facing charges for a theft crime can lead to incarceration, financial penalties, and long-term consequences like a criminal record. A record can hinder future employment and housing opportunities. Seek the guidance of experienced criminal defense attorneys to protect your rights.

In North Carolina, theft crimes are regulated by N.C.G.S. 14-72, which categorizes offenses based on the value of the property or services the defendant allegedly took from the victim. Among the most commonly charged theft crimes are larceny and unlawful concealment of merchandise, widely known as shoplifting. The severity of the charges can vary depending on the specific circumstances and the property's value.

Larceny charges are classified as misdemeanors or felonies based on the value of the stolen property. If the value exceeds a certain threshold, it is considered a felony. The classification significantly impacts potential penalties, so having a skilled criminal defense attorney is crucial. They can analyze evidence, challenge weak points in the prosecution's case, and strive to secure the best possible outcome for you.

Arnold & Smith, P.L.L.C. attorneys are here to help if you're charged with theft. With their legal knowledge, negotiation skills, and trial experience, they'll fight for your rights and protect your future opportunities. Reach out for a consultation and personalized guidance.

Misdemeanor Larceny - Property Valued at $1,000 or Less

If someone is found guilty of possessing stolen goods worth $1,000 or less in North Carolina, they could be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. This charge carries a maximum jail sentence of 120 days, as well as a fine of up to $1,000. However, the specific outcome of the case will depend on various factors. These factors include the value of the stolen goods, the individual's intent, and any prior criminal history. It's important to remember that seeking experienced legal representation can help to reduce the potential consequences of such a charge.

Felony Larceny - Property Valued More Than $1,000

Possessing stolen goods valued at more than $1,000 in North Carolina can lead to a felony charge, which carries more severe consequences than a misdemeanor charge. Felony offenses are treated with greater gravity by the criminal justice system, and if convicted, you could face a substantial jail sentence.

When prosecutors can establish certain circumstances related to the theft, they may pursue felony larceny charges. These circumstances include taking the property directly from another person, committing theft during a break-in or burglary, or stealing a firearm. These factors elevate the offense to a felony level due to the increased severity of the crime.

In North Carolina, felony larceny is classified as a Class H felony. For first-time offenders, the potential prison sentence for a Class H felony is up to eight months. However, it is essential to note that the actual length of imprisonment can vary based on the specific circumstances surrounding the case. Aggravating factors, such as prior criminal history or the nature of the stolen property, may lead to an extended prison term.

In addition to criminal penalties, theft convictions may result in civil consequences. This includes reimbursing the victim for stolen property, legal fees, and potential punitive damages. If the property value exceeds $2,000, offenders may forfeit their vehicle.

Given the severe nature of felony larceny charges and their potential impact on your future, seeking legal representation from experienced criminal defense attorneys is crucial. Attorneys like those at Arnold & Smith, P.L.L.C., understand the complexities of the law and have the knowledge and skills necessary to mount a strong defense on your behalf.

Your attorney will thoroughly analyze the evidence against you, challenge any constitutional violations or weaknesses in the prosecution's case, and explore potential defense strategies tailored to your specific situation. Our team will work tirelessly to safeguard your rights, present mitigating circumstances, and strive for the best possible outcome through negotiations, a strong defense at trial, or alternative sentencing options.

If you are facing felony larceny charges for possessing stolen goods valued at more than $1,000, it is essential to consult with a reputable criminal defense attorney promptly. They will guide you through the legal process, advocate for your rights, and strive to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. The experienced attorneys at Arnold & Smith, P.L.L.C., are ready to provide you with the skilled representation you need during this challenging time. Prosecutors will bring felony larceny charges when they can prove that one or more of the following circumstances occur:

  • The property was taken from the person of another individual
  • The theft was committed while breaking and entering
  • The stolen property was a firearm,

In North Carolina, felony larceny is considered a class H felony, which carries up to eight months in prison for first-time offenders. The amount of prison time can be increased depending on the circumstances of the case.

In addition to criminal penalties, a person who commits larceny may also face civil penalties. These can include reimbursing the victim for the value of the stolen property, legal fees, and punitive damages. Additionally, if the stolen property's value is $2,000 or more, the offender may have to forfeit their vehicle if it was used in the crime.

Concealment of Merchandise (Shoplifting)

Shoplifting is considered a criminal offense in North Carolina and can lead to misdemeanor charges. If caught by a store official, law enforcement may charge you with a Class 3 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 days in jail. It's important to note that repeat offenses involving the concealment of merchandise can result in a Class 2 misdemeanor, which carries a higher penalty of up to 60 days in jail. 

If you have been charged with shoplifting, seeking legal representation to minimize potential consequences and protect your record is highly recommended. A skilled attorney can review your case, negotiate with the prosecution, and work towards securing your best possible outcome. Don't hesitate to seek legal assistance to protect your rights and secure your future.

Defenses Against Larceny Charges in North Carolina

To convict a defendant of theft, the prosecutor must prove every element of the specific crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Working with an attorney to create a successful defense strategy will involve providing the court with evidence that the prosecution cannot prove one or more elements of the crime of larceny. 

Depending on the circumstances of your case, there are a few ways to avoid conviction for theft. If you can prove that you didn't take another person's property, that's one defense. Another defense is proving that you didn't carry the property away. Additionally, if you can show that you had permission from the owner to take the property, you can't be convicted of theft. Finally, if you didn't intend to permanently deprive the owner of the property, that's another defense.

Another defense to larceny charges involves the defense of abandonment. A party relying on the defense of abandonment must affirmatively show that the property owner intended to permanently terminate his ownership of the disputed property. A finding of abandonment by the court will effectively defeat the larceny charge. The attorneys at Arnold & Smith, P.L.L.C., have extensive experience defending clients against larceny charges and successfully asserting the defense of abandonment to defeat larceny charges.

Contact an Experienced Larceny Defense Attorney

The penalties for shoplifting and larceny can include community service, probation, incarceration, house arrest, fines, and more. If you are convicted of shoplifting or theft, you will have a criminal record that could negatively affect your potential employment, housing, and educational opportunities. 

The attorneys at Arnold & Smith, P.L.L.C., have extensive experience defending clients in various criminal charges. If you have been charged with shoplifting or larceny, you must speak to a skilled attorney immediately. We can answer your questions and develop an effective legal defense strategy. Contact Arnold & Smith, P.L.L.C., to schedule a free case evaluation.