The Differences Between Larceny Classifications and Their Penalties

Larceny is defined as the action of stealing personal property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that property. North Carolina criminal statutes classify most theft crimes as larceny, which is considered a felony in the state. A crime counts as larceny when someone:

  • Receives or possesses stolen goods
  • Conceals merchandise in a store
  • Removes a shopping cart from store premises
  • Steals gasoline at a service station
  • Steals motor vehicle parts

Larceny is classified based on the value stolen from a property. In North Carolina, a larceny is considered a class H felony unless a statute specifically labels the crime as a misdemeanor or another level of felony. All larceny crimes deemed a misdemeanor are also known as “petty misdemeanors,” which is equivalent to petty theft under other states’ laws. Here is a breakdown of all larceny classifications and penalties from minor to major:

Class 3 & Class 2 Misdemeanor Larceny. A shopper is convicted of concealment of merchandise (shoplifting) by hiding goods somewhere in their clothing, and the store owner or staff detains the shopper before leaving the store. A first offense is considered a Class 3 misdemeanor and typically involves 24 hours of community service or jail time. A second offense within three years of the first is a Class 2 misdemeanor and generally requires 72 hours of prison or community service.

Class 1 Misdemeanor Larceny. The value or property stolen is $1,000 or less. If the offender has no prior convictions, one to 45 days of imprisonment is common.

Class H Felony Larceny. The value of property is $1,000 or more. However, larceny is always considered a felony regardless of the value of the property stolen if:

  • The property is taken from another person
  • The theft is committed by breaking and entering
  • The property is a firearm, explosive device or any record or paper in the custody of North Carolina State Archives

Conviction of a Class H felony is usually four to eight months depending on case factors.

In addition to the above penalties, those convicted of shoplifting may also be help civilly liable to the store owner for damages, including compensation for damages done to merchandise, punitive damages (punishing the convicted instead of reimbursing the store), and reimbursement of the store owner’s attorney fees. These fees can be anywhere from $150 to $1,000, and cannot be any greater. If the convicted is a minor, the parent or legal guardian may also be civilly liable to the property owner with additional charges.

If you or someone you know has been accused of any degree of larceny, having a local Wilmington, NC criminal defense attorney like Brett Wentz by your side is crucial. At Wentz Law Firm, we take your case seriously and strive to deliver legal counsel that finds the best solution for your case. If you are need of legal assistance or have questions about your case, contact us today so we can get started.

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