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North Carolina Theft Charges

Theft is prohibited under Chapter 14, Article 16 of the North Carolina General Statutes (NCGS) and is known as larceny. In the past, the state distinguished between grand and petit larceny, also known as grand theft and petty theft. Now, based on NCGS 14-70, the state makes no distinction between grand and petit larceny, and almost all theft is charged as a Class H felony. However, if the value of the property you allegedly stole or received is less than $1,000, then under NCGS 14-72, you may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Vehicular theft is not treated as a separate larceny offense in North Carolina, though theft of motor fuel (NCGS 14-72.5) and auto parts (NCGS 14-72.8) are. If you are accused of stealing a car with the intent to deprive the owner of the vehicle permanently, you may be charged with a Class H felony. However, if the vehicle is worth less than $1,000, you may be charged with a misdemeanor.

The penalty you face for a Class H felony depends on your criminal history. If you are charged for the first time, then you likely fall into Prior Record Level I. You may be sentenced to between four and eight months of incarceration, though the presumptive sentence is five or six months. However, if you have a criminal history, then you will be assigned a certain number of points that place you in a Prior Record Level between II and VI. The higher the level, the greater your potential term of imprisonment.

Whether you face a misdemeanor theft, felony theft, or grand theft auto charge, you need to speak with an attorney right away. An experienced lawyer will thoroughly review your case to determine your best course of action. Depending on the circumstances, your lawyer may work on having the theft charge dropped by the prosecutors or dismissed. Another option may be to discuss your entrance into a diversion program. If prosecutors are determined to move forward with the case, then our team at Randall & Stump, PLLC will build the strongest defense strategy under the law.

Shoplifting in North Carolina

According to NCGS 14-71, shoplifting occurs when you conceal an item while in a store with the intent to take it without paying. If you actually leave the property of that store with the item, the charge is increased to larceny. If you are an employee of a location and steal something, even if you place it in your locker or handbag, you may be charged with felony larceny by an employee. Shoplifting charges are typically misdemeanors, but if you take the item from the property of the store and it is worth more than $1,000, then you may be charged with felony larceny.

Robbery in North Carolina

A common theft offense in North Carolina is robbery , which constitutes the taking of property from another person, or where other people are, without consent. For instance, the stereotypical example of someone snatching an old lady’s purse while on the sidewalk is robbery. You may also be charged with robbery if you went into a bank and demanded money that you are not lawfully entitled to.

Based on NCGS 14-87.1, robbery that does not include the use of a firearm or another dangerous weapon is charged as a Class G felony. Under NCGS 14-87, if you possess or threaten to use a dangerous weapon, and another person’s life is threatened or endangered, when you take or attempt to take another person’s property, then you may be charged with armed robbery, which is a Class D felony.

Burglary in North Carolina

You may be charged with burglary if you are accused of entering a house or other structure with the intent to commit a crime inside. The alleged intent is often to steal. However, you may also be charged with burglary if prosecutors believe you entered with the purpose of committing another crime, such as sexual assault or arson. Burglary is often known as home invasion or breaking and entering, but, in North Carolina, breaking and entering is a separate crime.

Under NCGS 14-51, there are two degrees of burglary. If you are accused of breaking into a home or an apartment, and someone was inside the building, then you will be charged with first-degree burglary. If you are accused of committing burglary in a building that is not a dwelling or into a dwelling that is not occupied at the time, then you may face second-degree burglary. NCGS 14-52 states burglary in the first degree is a Class D felony. Second-degree burglary is a Class G felony.

Based on NCGS 14-54, if you break or enter any building with the intent to commit any felony or larceny inside, you can be charged with a Class H felony. Although, if you do not have the intent to commit a felony inside, you may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

North Carolina’s burglary law can be complicated. If you are have been accused of any burglary or housebreaking offense, contact us at Randall & Stump, PLLC right away. We are highly experienced in handling all types of theft charges, including robbery and burglary.

Penalties & Collateral Consequences of Theft Charges

If you are convicted of a theft offense in North Carolina, you can expect certain penalties according to the criminal justice process, including fines, incarceration, and probation. You may also have to pay restitution to the victims and complete requirements like community service or counseling. The money, property, and items purchased with stolen money may also be subject to civil forfeiture laws.

North Carolina’s sentencing guidelines can be complicated. They are not only dependent on the class of the misdemeanor or felony offense. They are also based on your criminal record. For misdemeanor offenses, the number of your prior criminal convictions impacts the minimum and maximum duration of incarceration. For felonies, it is more complex. You will be assigned a certain number of points based on your record, which places you in a category level between I and VI. The higher your prior record level, the higher your maximum term of imprisonment.

You should also discuss potential secondary consequences with your attorney. A criminal conviction can lead to challenges with:

  • Continuing your education
  • Gaining certain professional licenses
  • Finding and maintaining employment
  • Your child custody and visitation rights
  • Your immigration status

To learn more about the potential criminal penalties and collateral consequences for a theft crime in North Carolina, call Randall & Stump, PLLC.