Sometimes tough economic circumstances, especially during the holidays, can lead those who have never considered shoplifting before to do so. No matter the reason behind it, the consequences of a shoplifting charge or conviction can be devastating. Here, we review the two types of shoplifting charges in North Carolina, the penalties, and how an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney can help you if you are charged with shoplifting during the holidays and beyond.
Shoplifting in North Carolina
Examples of shoplifting include hiding an item in a bag or jacket before purchasing it, swapping a higher price tag for a lower price tag, or blocking the store’s theft detection services.
There are two types of shoplifting charges in North Carolina. The main difference between the two is where the shoplifter was caught. If the shoplifter is caught inside of a store, he will likely be charged with Concealment of Merchandise under N.C.G.S. § 14-72.1. If the shoplifter leaves the store and is later caught off the premises with an item they did not pay for, he will likely be charged with Larceny of Goods under N.C.G.S. § 14-72.
Penalties for Concealment of Merchandise
A Concealment of Merchandise charge is usually a misdemeanor but can rise to a felony in some cases, usually if the merchandise taken is valued at over $1,000. Punishment will also depend on the shoplifter’s criminal history, and penalties include:
- First offense: This is usually a Class 3 misdemeanor, with community service or a jail sentence of one to ten days.
- Second offense: A second offense within three years of the first conviction is usually a Class 2 misdemeanor, with community service or a jail sentence of thirty days, or more if the person has a prior criminal record.
- Third offense: A third offense within five years of the prior two convictions is usually a Class 2 misdemeanor, with a jail sentence of up to forty-five days, or more if the person has a prior criminal record.
Penalties for Larceny of Goods
The penalty structure for Larceny of Goods is even more complicated. Numerous factors are taken into account, such as the value and type of items taken and how they were removed from the store.
If the value of the goods is more than $1,000, a shoplifter will usually be charged with a Class H felony, which carries a maximum sentence of thirty-nine months. Anything valued at $1,000 or below will generally be charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of 120 days in jail.
A judge will also consider other factors, such as the type of item taken (e.g., firearms or explosives) or if a tool was used to deactivate an antitheft device, both of which will be Class H felonies no matter the value of the goods. Additionally, if a person has four or more prior shoplifting convictions, they will likely face felony charges.
We Can Help.
Whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony shoplifting charge, you do not want either conviction on your record. Cotten Law can help. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your options and how we can build a strong defense against your shoplifting charges and reduce your penalties.