Is shoplifting a misdemeanor in North Carolina?

There are several important distinctions when it comes to shoplifting crimes in North Carolina, all of which come with serious consequences.

When people in North Carolina think of shoplifting, they may picture someone stealthily taking a small item from a merchant, like a teenager lifting a candy bar from a convenience store. However, these incidents actually can be costly and much more damaging.

Take, for example, this recent case: Last year, a North Carolina man went to a Sam's Club with his ex-wife. According to WNCN, the pair took more than $3,000 in merchandise, including a surround sound system and a laptop computer. He faced and pleaded guilty to multiple charges stemming from the shoplifting incident, including felony larceny. He was sentenced to 142 months in prison.

State law outlines how crimes related to shoplifting may be assessed and prosecuted. The penalties can be severe.

Concealment of goods

There is an important distinction when it comes to the crime of shoplifting, and that is whether or not the person ever leaves the establishment with the goods. When someone simply conceals the item in the store and does not leave, he or she may be charged with a misdemeanor. The merchant can detain the person for a reasonable amount of time and, if the person is a minor, call his or her parents.

If the merchant chooses to press charges under these circumstances, the charge for is a misdemeanor, the degree of which depends on how many prior offenses the person has. For first of second offenses, the associated imprisonment may be substituted with community service.

Larceny of goods

Someone who shoplifts an item, or leaves a merchant with the item, could be charged with larceny of property. The degree of these charges is based on how much the stolen goods are worth. If the value is less than $1,000, the person would likely face a misdemeanor. However, the law states that certain circumstances, such as stealing a firearm or an incendiary device, will automatically warrant a felony charge.

When someone shoplifts property worth more than $1,000, the resulting charge would be a Class H felony. Under the law, a Class H felony is punishable by as much as 39 months in prison.

Civil repercussions

It should also be noted that people who have been charged with crimes related to shoplifting could face a lawsuit from a merchant. Merchants are allowed to recover damages when it comes to the cost of any goods that were stolen or consequential losses, such as property damage.

Shoplifting, like any other crime, can jeopardize someone's future and freedom. It can create a permanent criminal record and prevent someone from obtaining gainful employment. Anyone who has questions about this issue should speak with a criminal defense attorney in North Carolina.

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North Carolina vs. M.W.
Charge: Charge: Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon (4 Counts), First Degree Burglary, Conspiracy to Commit Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon
Facing: 12 - 17 years in prison
Result: Dismissed

An incarcerated defendant accused our client of participating in the robbery of a group of youth at a party. We were able to raise doubt as to the credibility of this individual. In the end, the prosecutor dismissed these charges, citing a lack of evidence.