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Is Larceny a Felony?

Is larceny a felony in North Carolina? Larceny, also known as theft, has a precise definition within North Carolina’s legal system. We aim to shed light on the exact meaning of larceny, its potential penalties, and the factors determining when it is a felony offense in North Carolina. By the end of this read, you will understand the legal ramifications of theft in our state.

What is Shoplifting? Isn’t it the Same as Larceny?

Shoplifting occurs when you conceal an item while still in a retail store. For example, let’s say you’re at a department store and slip a wallet and a bottle of perfume into your bag. You continue looking around the store until a store officer asks you to come to see the store manager. You ask, “Why?” and the officer lets you know that they have you on camera putting the items in the bag.

In this example, you have not stolen the goods. Your theft crime was not complete. You had not yet left the store. In the manager’s office, they ask to see inside your bag and find the perfume and the wallet. The manager calls the police, and you face arrest and charges of shoplifting.

How is Larceny Different from Shoplifting?

Using the example from above, let’s say you leave the store and walk down the street. You think you got away with the wallet and perfume and are headed to your car. However, officers surround and arrest you just as you unlock the doors with your keyfob.

In this case, you face charges for larceny (also called theft). You were no longer shoplifting. Instead, once you left the store with the stolen goods, you committed larceny.

Factors That Determine Whether You’ve Committed a Felony Larceny Offense in NC

There are different levels of larceny (theft) and penalties you may face depending on these five factors while stealing:

Factor 1- Value of Stolen Property

If you commit theft and the property is worth less than $1,000, you will face charges for the following:

  • Class 1 misdemeanor larceny if you leave a store with stolen goods
  • Class 3 misdemeanor shoplifting if you were apprehended before you left the store premises.

If the property is worth more than $1000, you will likely face charges for a

  • Class H felony larceny with a prison sentence of 10-41 months. 

Factor 2- Type of Property

It is essential to understand that stealing firearms is a serious offense as a Class H felony, even if the gun is worth less than $1000. This level of felony carries a prison sentence of 10-41 months.

It’s worth noting that firearms are highly regulated and are not treated the same way as common items like a wallet or earrings.

Factor 3- How You Steal

The method by which something is stolen can be just as crucial as what is stolen.

Even if the item’s value is insignificant, breaking and entering is considered a felony offense. For instance, if you break into a school to steal award trophies without permission, you can face felony breaking and entering charges in addition to larceny charges.

Factor 4- Possession of Stolen Goods

Even if you haven’t stolen anything, you can still face larceny charges if you possess a stolen item. For example, you might be suspicious if a friend gives you a new DSLR Camera and tells you that it cost him nothing.

You might wonder how he got a DSLR digital camera without paying for it. Even if he doesn’t tell you he stole the camera, a court may find that you should have known the camera was stolen property. In this case, you can face felony larceny charges for accepting the stolen merchandise.

Beware if he outright tells you he stole the camera but wasn’t caught. If officers catch up to and arrest him later, they may also arrest you. After all, you possess the stolen merchandise. You can face felony larceny charges for accepting stolen merchandise worth over $1000.

You can face misdemeanor charges for possession of stolen property, depending on the value of the property.

However, some circumstances exist where accepting stolen property worth less than $1000 can bring you felony charges! We will delve into some of those situations later, so keep reading.

Factor 5- Your Age

You may still face charges if you are under 18 and caught stealing. However, you would attend juvenile court. On the other hand, if you are over 18, law enforcement may arrest you and charge you with misdemeanor shoplifting, or misdemeanor or felony larceny.

Examples of a Misdemeanor Larceny Charges

An experienced criminal defense attorney can often get first-time misdemeanor larceny charges reduced or dropped entirely. Especially if this is your first charge for larceny, you have a better chance to receive lighter consequences than someone who officers have repeatedly arrested for stealing.

Often, misdemeanor-level convictions result in short jail sentences, probation, and smaller fines.

Examples of misdemeanor theft in NC include:

  • Taking and carrying away motor fuel valued at less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) from a gas station with the intent to steal the motor fuel
  • Shoplifting: concealment of merchandise in a store
  • Stealing property valued at less than $1000
  • Removal of a shopping cart from the parking area set aside for store customers
  • Possessing property you know is stolen worth less than $1000 (or even if you should have known it was stolen)

Examples of a Felony Larceny Charge

Real-life instances can help us visualize what felony larceny charges look like in real life. These examples are powerful illustrations of what to avoid to protect yourself from felony larceny charges.

Examples of felony larceny include:

  • Stealing property valued at more than $1000
  • Committing a burglary of a dwelling
  • Breaking or entering any building with the intent to commit theft (larceny)
  • Intending to commit larceny by breaking and entering any building and attempting to open any vault, safe, or other secure place using nitroglycerine, dynamite, gunpowder, or any other explosive, or acetylene torch.
  • Stealing motor vehicle parts
  • Stealing any explosive or incendiary device or substance
  • Theft of any firearm
  • Wrongfully breaking or entering any building that is a place of religious worship with the h intent to commit larceny
  • Stealing any record or paper in the custody of the North Carolina State Archives
  • Receiving stolen goods or receiving or possessing goods represented as stolen.
  • Receiving or possessing property you knew was in the n custody of law enforcement as “stolen goods”
  • Theft after conviction for larceny of the above items at least four times.
  • Receiving or possessing stolen goods obtained during felony larceny (such as those listed above without regard to the value)

When it comes to larceny, particularly in the realm of felonies, the stakes are significantly higher, and the road to having charges dropped is challenging. However, it’s important to remember that having a skilled criminal defense attorney by your side can make a world of difference.

With a deep understanding of how the law applies in larceny cases, legal professionals possess the knowledge and expertise to navigate the intricacies of the criminal court system on your behalf. In many instances, they can effectively negotiate with prosecutors to secure alternative outcomes such as deferred prosecution or reduced charges.

Attorney-led outcomes can range from less severe punishment, such as reduced jail time, to decreased fines. By leveraging their legal acumen and strategic approach, criminal defense attorneys have the potential to create opportunities for a more favorable resolution to your larceny case.

Is Grand Theft a Charge Under North Carolina Law?

The legal term “Grand Theft” is not explicitly used in North Carolina. Instead, the state’s criminal statutes classify theft offenses based on the value of the property stolen or other specific circumstances.

North Carolina uses a tiered system to differentiate between different degrees of theft offenses, ranging from misdemeanors to felonies. The severity of the crime and the corresponding penalties largely depend on the value of the property.

It’s essential to note that North Carolina’s larceny laws may encompass various types of theft, including shoplifting, embezzlement, and other forms of misappropriation. Understanding the specific elements and classifications within North Carolina’s larceny laws is crucial for comprehending the potential legal consequences of theft-related offenses.

Your criminal defense lawyer can help you understand how to face larceny offenses for your best legal outcome. Theft crimes vary in punishment based largely on your criminal history and past theft convictions.

Avoiding Felony Conviction

When it comes to avoiding a felony conviction, there are essential steps to remember. Firstly, it is crucial never to engage in conversations with law enforcement regarding the incident without the presence of your criminal defense attorney.

Law enforcement officers are skilled in employing tactics aimed at eliciting confessions. They desire to secure a strong case leading to a prosecution and subsequent conviction. To level the playing field, it is imperative to enlist the support of a legal expert who possesses an in-depth understanding of larceny laws and their direct application to your unique circumstances.

By having a knowledgeable advocate by your side, you gain a fighting chance to navigate the complexities of your case and strive for the best possible outcome.

Our Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help

When facing a felony larceny charge, the importance of having experienced criminal defense attorneys on your side cannot be overstated. At The Scharff Law Firm, we understand the gravity of the situation and are dedicated to providing comprehensive legal representation tailored to your specific needs.

Our team of seasoned criminal defense attorneys possesses extensive knowledge of larceny laws and the intricacies of the criminal court system. With years of courtroom experience, we have honed our skills in negotiation, investigation, and litigation strategies. From the moment you reach out to us, we will diligently assess your case, examining every detail to build a robust defense strategy.

We will work closely with you to understand your side of the story, ensuring your voice is heard throughout the legal process. Our priority is to protect your rights, challenge the prosecution’s evidence, and seek the most favorable outcome possible. Whether negotiating for reduced charges, advocating for alternative sentencing options, or preparing a solid defense for trial, our experienced criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to guiding you through this challenging time with expertise, compassion, and unwavering support.

Get in touch today for a free consultation to determine your next best steps.