If you are arrested for shoplifting, you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony offense. Many factors, such as the value of the goods and whether you removed them from the store, will determine whether the charge will be a misdemeanor or a more serious felony. A conviction for either a misdemeanor or felony shoplifting charge can result in serious penalties, such as a jail sentence and a permanent criminal record that can have long-term consequences on your life.
Two Types of Shoplifting Charges in North Carolina
Shoplifting is considered larceny of goods in North Carolina, and larceny is committed when a person takes property without the owner’s consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of his property. There are two categories of shoplifting charges that are based on where the person is apprehended. They include:
- Concealment of goods. If the shoplifter is caught in the store, he will be charged with concealment of goods.
- Larceny of goods. When the shoplifter has already left the store before he is detained, he will be charged with larceny of goods. This is a more serious offense with more severe penalties than a concealment of goods charge.
Concealment of Goods Penalties
Whether the concealment of goods charge is a misdemeanor or felony will often depend on the value of the merchandise taken. If the merchandise is valued at less than $1,000, a shoplifter will often be charged with a misdemeanor. He would be charged with a felony if the value is above $1,000. However, there are exceptions when shoplifting goods valued at less than $1,000 would be considered a felony.
North Carolina uses a complicated system for sentencing that is based on the person’s criminal history and other factors. Here are some common concealment of goods offenses and possible penalties:
- First offense concealment of goods conviction. If a person is convicted of a first offense concealment of goods or altering of price tags, this is a Class 3 misdemeanor with a possible sentence of community service or one to ten days in jail, which can increase if the person has prior convictions.
- Second offense concealment of goods conviction. A second conviction of concealment of goods or altering price tags within three years is a Class 2 misdemeanor. The sentence can be probation, community service, or up to 30 days in jail if there are no prior convictions and an additional sentence if the person has a prior criminal record.
- Third offense concealment of goods conviction. Being convicted of a third offense concealment of goods or price tag altering within five years can result is a Class 2 misdemeanor conviction with a possible sentence of up to 45 days in jail—or longer if there are other prior convictions.
- Using a tool to prevent activation. If a tool is used to prevent activation of an antitheft device, the charge is a Class H felony no matter what the value of the property is. The possible sentence is between 4 and 25 months in jail depending on the person’s prior conviction history and other mitigating and aggravating factors.
- Use of an emergency exit. It is a Class H felony to use an emergency exit door to leave a store with goods valued at $200 or more, and the penalties are similar to using a tool to prevent activation of a security device.
Penalties for a Larceny of Goods Conviction
If a person is charged with larceny of goods, a number of factors could determine whether the charge is a felony or misdemeanor. Like with a concealment of goods charge, if the value of the property is above $1,000, the charge will generally be a Class H felony, and it will be a Class 1 misdemeanor if the value is $1,000 or less. However, there are situations where a shoplifter can be charged with a felony even if the property is worth less than $1,000, such as:
- The property taken is a firearm, explosive device, or incendiary device.
- The property was taken directly from a person.
- The person has four or more larceny or shoplifting charges.
The sentence for a Class 1 misdemeanor can be up to 120 days in jail. If the conviction is for a Class H felony, the sentence may be as long as 39 months in prison.
Contact Our Charlotte Office for Help
If you have been charged with shoplifting, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Browning & Long, PLLC, we can guide you through the criminal process and build a strong defense so that the charges are dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense with the least possible penalties. To learn about your legal options and how we can assist you, call our Charlotte office today to schedule your free initial consultation.