Theft and Larceny Charges

Theft charges are a subsection of charges or crimes against property. Like most property crimes, a theft charge frequently involves an alleged threat or use of force but does not require it. Theft, also referred to as larceny in North Carolina criminal law, is defined as the taking of another party’s property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that property. Theft crimes include a number of related charges:

  • Larceny/theft of property: Governed by N.C.G.S. 14-72. With some exceptions, theft of property that is worth $1,000 or less is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Theft of property worth more than $1,000 is a Class H felony. Regardless of how much the property is worth, theft of property is a Class H felony if it is from a person, of a firearm, or committed after four (4) convictions for similar theft crimes (among other exceptions).

  • Possession or receipt of stolen goods: Governed by N.C.G.S. 14-71. Possessing stolen goods is a Class H felony if the accused knew or had reason to know that the goods were stolen. In order for stolen goods to be in your “possession,” they do not have to be on your physical person at the time, but rather simply in an area over which you had control. For example, keeping stolen goods in a storage locker to which you had the key could constitute possession of stolen goods.

  • Concealing merchandise in a store for purposes of shoplifting: Governed by N.C.G.S. 14-17.1. Concealing goods or merchandise that has not yet been purchased is a Class 3 misdemeanor. In addition, attempting to purchase goods after changing the price tag in an effort to pay less is a Class 3 misdemeanor. Meanwhile, using a lead or aluminum-lined bag or clothing to defeat antishoplifting devices is a Class H felony.

  • Shoplifting/Theft from a merchant: Governed by N.C.G.S. 14-72.11. Stealing property worth more than $200 out of an establishment’s Exit door which has legal notice about the felony offense of theft posted, is a Class H felony. Other activities included as a Class H felony within this section include removing, deactivating or destroying an antishoplifting device; and theft of infant formula worth more than $100.

  • Employee theft/larceny: Governed by N.C.G.S. 14-74. Theft from an employer by an employee over the age of 16 is a Class H felony, unless the value of the goods is $100,000 or more, in which case it is a Class C felony.

  • Chop shop activity: Governed by N.C.G.S. 14-72.7. Chop shop activity involves the altering, disassembling, destroying, reassembling or storing a motor vehicle or its parts which you know or have reasonable grounds to know have been obtained through illegal means (theft, fraud, etc.) Permitting a place to be used for the above activity is also a violation of this section. Chop shop activity is a Class G felony.

  • Theft/larceny of motor vehicle parts: Governed by N.C.G.S. 14-72.8. Unless the conduct is covered by another North Carolina theft statute providing a steeper punishment, theft of a motor vehicle part is a Class I felony as long as the cost of repairing the vehicle (i.e. the cost of replacing and installing an equivalent part) is $1,000 or more.

In the more general category of charges involving theft, there are also a number of white-collar crimes such as identity theft and credit or debit card transaction theft. You may find more information about white-collar crime charges [here/on that section of our website].

Unless one of the specific statutes from above specifies otherwise, theft/larceny is a Class H felony. In addition to the criminal penalties attached to the above theft charges, which can include jail time, community service and/or probation, civil penalties are also frequently attached to a conviction for theft/larceny. It is common that a judge will order the person to make monetary restitution to the party from which they stole, in addition to civil fines.

If you or someone you love has been charged with a theft/larceny crime, it is extremely important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The majority of theft charges are felonies in North Carolina, which can have a permanent detrimental impact on a person’s life and future, especially when attempting to find employment. Arnold & Smith, PLLC is a criminal defense and civil litigation firm in Charlotte, North Carolina known for its aggressive approach to defending our clients’ rights against a variety of criminal charges. We also offer expungement services for those eligible. Please contact our office today for an initial consultation with one of our criminal defense attorneys.